I found myself this week with our partners at Superior Thermowood in Central Minnesota. They’re located in beautiful Central Minnesota, where there are more vacation homes than full-time residents. We’re continuing to expand the amount of Boulevard thermally-modified wood in our product line, and I was here to do some start-of-the-year planning. I thought I’d take a few pictures and document where our wood comes from…
This is where it starts. This is at our vendor Savanna Pallet. At their peak, they store over 15,000 cords of wood on site. They typically use the lowest grades of logs to make their pallets, and take the clear, select red oak (the good stuff!) and mill it for us. They have a highly automated sawmill, processing thousands of board feet of wood every day. I was quite impressed. They are a family-run business, and one of the few FSC certified processors in the area. We’re lucky to be working with them.
Meet John and Ed. John, on the right, is the owner of Superior. He’s pretty single-minded in his dedication for expanding the market for thermally modified wood. Ed, to the left, is the teams official “pilot”. When there’s wood to be stacked, he’s the one to pile it!! Superior’s operation is a combination of automated and old-fashioned manual labor. Until you’ve been around it, it’s hard to understand the amount of work that goes into processing wood.
This is a load of ash, about to go into the thermal-modification kiln. The wood actually starts out in a more conventional drying kiln, going from green wood down to 10-12% moisture content. This takes about 2-4 weeks, depending upon the starting moisture. The wood is pre-cut to a size that will allow for some shrinkage before it is kilned twice. The thermal-modification kiln is a computer controlled process that mixes hot air, steam, and reciprocating airflow. The temperature and moisture level of the wood is carefully monitored, and follows a proven “recipe” to get to the Boulevard wood product.
Once removed from the kiln, the wood is milled to its final size. In this case, the red oak has been cut into slats for our structural wood tiles. The wood will be cut to length, then assembled into a tile. The whole process is 100% American. Other thermally-modified products start with domestic wood, which is shipped to an oversea location, modified and then sent back to the U.S. We’re proud that we use nothing but FSC-managed wood sources, made right here in Minnesota.
Boulevard wood is the next important material for Tournesol Siteworks. The 25+ year resistance to rot and decay, combined with the moisture stability and awesome dark color make it the right solution for commercial construction products. We’re proud to be on the edge of the sustainable wood trend.