Posted on 10/25/2011 2:23 PM by Grace Jeffers

American-made plywood panels by Columbia Forest Products are made from the common tree species that grow abundantly in the regions near our mills in the South, North and West. This means that the wood used in the individual plywood layers will vary from region to region. Each region has a specific climate and soil, therefore different species will be common to that region. Yellow Poplar is most common aast of the Mississippi River. Aspen and White Birch are dominant species in Canada; Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine are frequent in the Northwest.

Columbia literally built their plants where the trees are. As Columbia states on their website “We use only species that grow naturally and in great numbers in the region,” allowing them to save on transportation costs and keeping the consumption of a single species in balance.

Columbia Forest Products has an amazing, interactive page on their website that literally ‘highlights’ the ranges of specific tree species in the United States. Once you select a species, you are given a profile, including images and useful facts, detailing that species’ characteristics. Each profile uses information largely provided by the USDA Forest Service, so you know it is well-researched.  As Darrell Pendris, Southeast Regional Manager at the Forest Stewardship Council US, said, "It is unique to have a Forest Products company share its on-the-ground forestry approach in terms that both the public and a forester can understand and relate to."  This tool is informative and substantive but still quick and easy to use and above all FUN!

SHARE THE KNOWLEDGE! If any of you know of a useful tool or resource that helps us understand more about materials please share it with us. The more we all know the better off we will all be!

Bio: Jeffers received her masters in Decorative Art History at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts and was one of the first in her field to focus her attention on materials instead of the objects that they became. Her pioneering work conserving the Ralph Wilson House in Temple, Texas was awarded the Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the house is the only structure on the National Register of Historic Places listed because of its use of material. Her approach is a synthesis of design history, materials science and cultural anthropology. And for the past eight years she has been working on an encyclopaedia of modern materials.