Engineered Wood: The Product from Worlds Colliding

Engineered Wood: The Product from Worlds Colliding

If there was a movie about our engineered wood product, it would have to be science fiction. First of all, this wood creation occurs when we merge two very different realities. Every table is a blend of old-world, old-growth wood with the modern world’s most advanced Baltic birch plywood.

Let’s start with the old-growth half of the equation. It’s not as simple as just picking up an old piece of lumber—reclaiming wood takes time and attention.

“Through the process itself there are definitely more hands touching things [compared to run-of-the mill lumber production]. We still need to have that artisan touch to it,” said Lake Wood Designs Co-Owner Devin Garrett. 

After finding old-growth wood, we start by reducing its moisture content.

“All of our reclaimed wood is kiln dried, before we start milling it, down to the 8 to 10 percent moisture content range,” said Devin. “Then we shepherd the wood through the engineering process as quickly as possibly to mitigate how much moisture it takes on. Once it is glued to the plywood it is going to stay very stable.”

Our engineered product is on the bottom, it features a half inch, 9ply Baltic substrate bonded to an 9 mm “wear layer” or “tread layer” (which is our reclaimed lamella). The competitors feature: Middle boards have a 4ply substrate bonded to a 2 mm tread layer. The top board is a fiberboard with a 1 mm tread layer.

After the kiln, we make the cuts. We shape this old wood with gigantic heavily-powered saws, then hand inspect the results of each and every step. This old-growth wood has been traveling through time, and we will carefully monitor its journey toward its final form and destination. 

“If there are any twists in it we clear out that twist as best as possible,” said Devin. “Then we mill that out. Then we set our re-saw to a thin cut to get the thin pieces of what we call our ‘tread layer’ or the ‘the lamella’. We then sand the back and then we glue the lamella on to the (new) Baltic birch.”

Let’s talk about that Baltic birch plywood layer. As artisans we are very interested in controlling all the variables which go into making a fine product. Though we do not make the plywood for our engineered wood products, we spend a lot of time ensuring only outstanding plywood arrives safely at our shop. 

“We go through a good vendor that we trust and it kind of starts there. We curate our substrate,” said Devin. “Our vendor has fast shipping for us and we are getting it from their warehouse to ours quickly with very little handling.”

When you look at our finished engineered wood product, you can see the difference. Here you can see the natural tightly spaced grain of the (old-growth) lamella next to the tightly spaced layers of the (new) Baltic birch plywood. While the natural lines are more curvy, both of these layers have a tremendous impact on the strength and durability of the final product. 

Why combine old and new? It helps the world stretch out a limited supply of old-growth timber. All living old growth trees are now protected, and the previously cut-down stock that exists can’t last forever.

By combining reclaimed wood with modern wood, we are able to keep this “portal to the past” open longer. These methods will allow us to reap the benefits of nature’s best wood for many years to come.

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