MADISON, WI - Students from Madison College now have their work on permanent display at the Washington, DC.

The college, located in Madison, WI, was asked to provide a reception/guard desk as part of the Sydney Yates building renovation, headquarters for the U.S. Forest Service. Under the guidance of Madison College Cabinetmaking & Millwork instructors, including Patrick and Jeff Molzahn, students designed and built the desk and recently shipped it to Washington, DC.

Recently transported to Washington DC, where it stands a focal point as one enters the Yates building lobby, the desk features reclaimed timbers and other wood, each with a story of its own.

One source was the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Products Lab, also located in Madison, which provided reclaimed wood for the project, including old-growth, southern yellow pine, white oak from northern Wisconsin, and live oak reclaimed during a restoration of the famed warship, the U.S.S. Constitution, "Old Ironsides."

The front of the desk features 4” thick, by 8” wide, by 12’-6” long laminated timbers, a product with a unique background as well.

Growing demand for research and information on the use of glued structural timber in the mid-1930’s led to the construction of a service building at Forest Products Lab (FPL).Designed and tested by FPL, this building was one of the earliest laminated timber buildings in North America, and showcased the latest developments in the use of wood in engineered structures.

Several types of glued members were used as arches in this historic building. The laminated arches were exposed to a variety of conditions during their service life, from severe snow load events to a fire in the 1990’s.

Seventy five years after its construction, in October 2010, this historic building was taken down as part of FPL’s construction and renovation efforts. All of the original arches were retained, presenting a rare opportunity to evaluate how in-service conditions affect the long-term performance of wood structures.

The transaction counter and work surface of the desk are made from laminated white oak. Forest Products Lab conducted a series of tests in the early 1990’s to determine the performance of connections used in wooden minesweepers during Operation Desert Storm.

The glue-laminated white oak members represented critical structural elements used in the hulls of wooden minesweepers that were built for the United States Navy by Peterson Builders, Inc., of Sturgeon Bay, WI. Most of the white oak used in the minesweepers was harvested from forests in the upper Midwest, the majority from Wisconsin and upper Michigan.

Inlayed into the counter’s surface is the iconic, forest service tree that is part of their emblem. It is made from live oak, a species that grows in the southeastern region of the United States.

Known for its incredible strength and durability, the live oak was also used in the construction of the U.S.S. Constitution. Built in 1794 under orders from George Washington, she proudly stands as the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy, and serves as an excellent example of the durability of wood.

Madison College Cabinetmaking & Millwork students completed the desk over the past few months. It was recently transported to Washington DC, where it stands a focal point as one enters the Yates building lobby.

Madison College is an accredited, Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA) Evaluation Center. Graduates of the program are employed throughout the mid-west and across the country. For more information, contact Patrick Molzahn, pmolzahn@madisoncollege.edu (608) 246-6842.

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