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It is Still in Favor Although the Supply is Limited---Largely a Local Production in Two States---Most of Figured Wood Cut Into Veneer for Furniture By WARFIELD WEBB
HERE will always be a place in the mind of the furniture lover for bird's-eye maple. Its peculiar beauty lies in the fact that it is "different" from all other woods, and consequently of such character as to make it a continual source of admiration by lovers of the beautiful. The use of bird's-eye maple wood is centuries old. Long ago the Romans had a special liking for this lumber, and it was used for some pieces of furniture and was specially prized for its beauty.
But in those days, as now, it was scarce. It seems that there has never been more than a limited supply, and the sources, being few, seem to have had much to do with this condition. There were some rare specimens found in Istra and Boetia, and it was deemed of still greater value than the citrus, a highly valued wood. Today one finds it in England and America. In this country it is found in two states only, Wisconsin and Michigan, and then the supply is limited, so that the wood can only be used for the manufacture of veneers, for the greater part.
The trees grow in groups, many times only a few specimens being found in a given locality. In such instances, there might not be found other trees for a distance of forty acres. The bark is rough, and the trees when they have attained a twenty-five year growth, are rarely more than two feet in diameter. The cutting is always done in the winter months, when the sap is down, and they are hauled to the log yards of the plants and permitted to lie in the open until the following spring.
The trees being straight, it is often possible to get a seven-foot veneer strip from many logs, and in this way it makes the beauty and the value of the stock more profitable to the veneer manufacturer. The trees are sorted as to their particular value, and the best only cut into veneers. The others are sawed into lumber for furniture, piano backs and kindred uses. The rotary cut is the only kind of veneer made from this stock, thicknesses being from one twenty-fourth of an inch to one twenty-eighth and one thirty-second. The grain of the stock varies as the saw divides the eyes transversely or longitudinally, making the wonderful effects that characterize this veneer as an ideal material.
The figured effects are made possible from the small curls, zones or spots in the log. The finished stock has little dots or sometimes ridges, and these are caused by little cones which are found on the logs, and are directly traceable to internal spines, or points in the bark. The wood is molded in layers upon these projections, and their fibers are curled in their respective places. When the log has been cut into veneers they are noted as prominent features, and are in reality the foundation for the veneer's beauty.
The short supply of stock of this character makes the industry limited, and there are very few lumber or veneer manufacturers featuring this line.
always confined to a limited number, do not increase, as the supply of stock will not permit it, and the cost of the stock is also a prohibitive element that enters into the theme to a great degree.
In the spring the logs, which have now become well seasoned, are placed in steam boxes, and then cut into
veneers. The stock is placed in the dry kiln and the selection is made according to quality. The fewer knots that are found in the stock, and the freedom from black streaks, makes the quality of the stock much superior to such as have these defects.
There are uses to which the less desirable stock is put, and much of this finds its way to the piano manufacturer who uses it in the manufacture of pin blocks for pianos. Other uses for this less desirable stock are interior finish and panels and kindred uses. The natural color of the bird's-eye maple has in the past few years given way to the many colored varieties that are found for the foregoing purposes. It has been found that this stock will readily take any color of dye, and that the finish will also be obtained that makes it a very striking factor for the use on interiors.
The furniture manufacturer does not need this innovation for his commodities. The beautiful effects that are possible with the use of bird's-eye maple veneer for the finer grades of furniture, make it an ideal material in its natural state. There is a delicate and very artistic effect thus gained that makes it appeal to the housekeeper who is eager for the chaste effect that is not found in any other wood.
The mottled maple has something of the effect produced by the bird's-eye maple, but there is not the same peculiar effect that has been made possible with the spines or eyes. The roots of the common yew have also some very beautiful effects in this way The common elm produces some pleasing and artistic effects for furniture, the latter being manufactured from the root and trunk of the tree, made possible by the continued stripping off of the side branches. The latter is a practice much in use.
However, there has been nothing that can quite replace the artistic effects made possible by the bird's-eye maple. It is, we might say, in a class by itself, and there will always be the same admiration for this stock, by the purchaser of a better grade of furniture, that has marked the industry for generations. It cannot be imitated, and there is no substitute that can take its place. The delicate lines and the clean and alluring effects made possible in this stock are not to be noted in others, though, of course, some of them are much more costly.
There has been no very great change in the amount of this stock used in the past few years. The supply being much the same, and the uses not varying to any wonderful degree, makes the stability of the same much the same, as a general rule. There is always a fair amount of stock on hand, and the market values do not seem to vary appreciably from year to year. However, the fact still remains that there is a lessening supply of this timber and the effect on the market must in time be noted with a greater or lesser effect. Higher prices will no doubt be the rule in the future, and there does not appear to be any great reason for any decline in the demand for the finished articles made therefrom.
The Brocton Furniture Co., Brocton, N. Y., is building an addition to its factory to afford 500 feet of additional floor space.
Many Kilns and Many Systems---Process of Kiln Drying Must Be Applicable to the Material Subjected---Test for Determining Dry-Kiln Results
By ALEXANDER T. DEINZER
'HE dry-kiln is essentially a device for increasing the efficiency, both from a first cost and operative and time-consumption viewpoint as well. Few concerns could afford, and still fewer would wish, to keep sufficient supplies of lumber on hand to allow for the slow process of natural drying.
Various types of dry-kilns are in existence today with very greatly varying degrees of efficiency. The ordinary structure used for this purpose consists of a rectangular shed with track extending through it from end to end, on which the cars are moved, entirely through a door at one end and leaving at the other. The drying is accomplished by means of heating the air in contact with the lumber, thus increasing its absorptive power for water, and after the air has become saturated from the sap in the lumber by its removal and the substitution of fresh supplies of comparatively dry air.
The heated air is produced in various ways. Thus, the heating is accomplished by means of steam pipes in tanks or under the tracks, or along the sides of the shed, and the air driven over these by means of a fan. After being heated it is circulated around the lumber, and finally drawn off into a condenser, and the water vapor condensed out of it, after which it is ready for re-heating and re-use in the drying chamber.
Hygrometric Conditions Influence
Hygrometric conditions enter very largely into this problem, although they are fairly well understood in this connection. Air will absorb a certain amount of moisture at all temperatures. This capacity for moisture, however, varies very greatly with the temperature and hygrometric state of the air. When air contains all the moisture it can possibly carry at that temperature it is said to be in a saturated hygrometric condition and any fall in temperature or increase in pressure at this point causes condensation and precipitation of the water content. Air which has passed through boiling water contains 250 grains of water vapor to the cubic foot, and a fall of one degree, or an increase in pressure will result in rapid condensation and deposition of water.
The side walls of your kiln should be maintained cooler than the inside air and ample air space left between the lumber and the side walls. The kiln should also be arranged that any degree of humidity may be maintained within; if of the progressive type, the circulation should be entirely transverse and the humidity should be graded from 100 per cent. (saturation) at the entering end to the degree corresponding to the required dryness at the discharging end.
The furniture manufacturer often asks the question, What make of kiln should I install? There are a number of reliable makes on the market which will give very satisfactory results. However, you will appreciate that every kiln must accomplish certain conditions. (It is to be regretted that space does not permit a discussion of these conditions). The trouble with some dry-kiln manufacturers is that stress is laid on minor details, while fundamental principles are ignored. The kiln manufacturer must study every case by itself. This is not a cooked and dried proposition as it appears to be.
A very popular concern, located in the state of Michigan, has what I consider an ideal dry-kiln. Drying is accomplished by a series of steam coils under the kiln and a natural circulation miantained through a series of flues. The cold air, or fresh air, enters the kiln through openings in chimneys at the side, dampers being placed at the ground level, where the air enters. It rises through flues to the level of the top of the kiln and then flows in. The moisture, or heavy laden air, is withdrawn from the bottom of the kiln. A series of vitreous pipe flues leads from the center of the floor under the steam pipes to vertical flues at the side. Each of these vertical flues contains a coil of steam pipe which heats the air contained in it, thus establishing a circulation. This movement draws the heavy moisture laden air from the floor of the kiln through the vitreous pipes to the vertical flues and discharges it from the chimney above the kiln The circulation is controlled by means of dampers in the cold air or entrance flues.
The Construction of a Dry Kiln
In addition to the steam pipes for heating there are perforated pipes under each section of the kiln through which direct steam may be admitted to control humidity. In the first section of the kiln, into which the lumber is introduced, the humidity is maintained between 85 and 95, and the temperature between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The lumber is kept in the first section of the kiln from 24 to 48 hours for one-inch stock, and a greater length of time for heavier material. When the stock has been in the kiln a sufficient length of time the curtain between the first and second division is lifted by means of a tackle extending outside of the kiln. The cars are then pushed forward so as to run one car from the wet end to the dry end of the kiln. The curtain is then dropped' back of this car and the second stage of the operation begun. In the dry end of the kiln the humidity is maintained between 45 and 55. Of course, the humidity varies in different parts of the dry end of the kiln, being greatest at the end where the stock enters, and least at the end where it is discharged. The temperature of the dry end of the kiln is maintained between 165 and 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
Moist air condensing kilns have given excellent results. Continuous kilns are very satisfactory if properly handled, but involve the problem of having more humidity at one end of the chamber than there is at the other end. As the lumber gets dryer and advances to the out end, the amount of humidity is less; as the reader can readily see the proposition of having air in one end of the room much more moist than at the other end is quite difficult, and if not carefully watched checking and honeycombing may result.
The Principles in Drying
What are, after all, the principles of drying lumber? The Forest Product Laboratory will gladly give this information to anyone interested.
It is not uncommon to find plants where the manufacturer will permit any employe to look after his kilns. This is a great mistake. Have one good man take charge of your kilns and hold him responsible for the results. To
work the kiln to its highest efficiency one must observe conditions of the stock going in, and note what its condition is when taken out, when dried with varying temperatures and degrees of humidity.
It is amusing to see how some of the men determine the dryness of the lumber in some of our furniture manufacturing plants In one very large factory, employing nearly eight hundred men, this testing was done by a man operating on a rip-saw. Whenever the gang wanted to move a car from the kiln Mr. Tester would smell of one or two boards, which were, of course, taken from the car, and if he said, "The lumber is suitable for manufacturing," the gang would pull the truck to the break out department.
One of the ways of testing lumber is to cut a section of a board, and by observing the appearance of the cut and general condition of the sawdust, and perhaps the taste or swell of the wood, arrive at some conclusion as to its condition as to moisture.
The Only Sure Test
The only sure test of dryness is to cut a small sample, say a cross section about an inch thick, weigh it, then dry this small sample in an oven, or hot room until it is perfectly dry (which may be known when it ceases to lose weight); then weigh again. The loss in weight is the moisture and this loss divided by the dry weight times 100 is the moisture per cent. which the sample contained when first weighed.
I will add that it is impossible to remove absolutely all of the water from the wood without destroying the wood. Wood is, however, considered thoroughly dried when it ceases to lose weight in a constant temperature of, say, 100 degrees C, though it still contains 2 to 3 per cent. of moisture, and if exposed to higher temperature will continue to give up water until the wood is charred.
I read an article in one of the trade journals a short time ago in which the author states that a small scale, accurate to 4 ounce, is sensitive enough to do this work. I very much disagree with the author. The writer uses a balance sensitive to one miligram. If you are going to do this work, do it correctly or not at all. It is possible to drive a nail with an ax, but what cabinetmaker would think of employing an ax for this purpose."
A very accurate registering hygrometer is now being manufactured. It consists of two specially constructed thermometer tubes, similar to a physician's fever thermometer and is mounted in a coppered case. This hygrometer will automatically register the wet and dry bulb temperature. This same company manufactures a scaleometer which is used for the purpose of determining the dryness of lumber.
BY A STAFF CORRESPONDENT
T IS not usual to commence a treatise on a technical subject with lines of verse, but an ancient Persian philosophical poet thus commented on the world and
""Tis all a checker-board of nights and days,
Then one by one back in the closet lays." Whether or not you agree with the Omar doctrine you will admit that every progressive industry is much like a game of checkers, and that every year a new feature is pushed forward that practically eliminates an old one from the game. Then occasionally some one gets the "king row" by improving an old method and bringing it into the game again stronger than ever. Thus it has been in the woodworking industry as well as in others.
Take the new "curing" process. Comparatively few furniture manufacturers are familiar with what this signifies today, but it is safe to say that it will be as well known as kiln-drying in a very short time This process has been used for over fifty years, but, while never entirely eliminated from the game, was formerly so expensive and involved such a difficulty in operation that it was commercially impractical.
Lumber is "cured" by steaming under pressure. For many years the few who realize the benefits of this operation used a retort which contained a man-hole, through which it was necessary to pass the material by hand, and the cover of which had to be bolted down by means of a wrench. Thus it will be seen that the process was too slow and expensive to come into common usage. The modern invention for curing lumber consists of a cylindrical steel retort permanently closed at one end, fitted at the other with a patented quick opening and closing door, which makes it possible to steam from 50,000 to 70,000 feet of lumber per day of ten hours.
This steaming of lumber under pressure is of more than passing interest to the furniture manufacturer, for by the use of lumber so treated he can carry less raw material in his yard, increase his kiln capacity, and have a better and more uniform product.
Hardwood lumber is the material universally used by the furniture-maker. He buys this when and where it seems most economical to do so. His usual specifications call for air dried lumber, which means that he gets a product that has been stacked from two to six months at the sawmill. Indeed, the present demand for lumber is so great that there is a strong inducement to market it as air dried when actually it is green from the saw. Then the re-manufacturer has to crowd his dry kiln or tie up considerable capital in the stock he carries in the yard. Finally, in manufacturing his goods the operators are forced to lose time in sorting the shades of several boards so that they will match and have a uniform appearance in the tops, fronts and sides of case goods, tables and so forth.
Lumber that has been steamed under pressure really undergoes a metamorphosis. Just what happens no one can satisfactorily explain, since the change takes place under a pressure of from fifteen to thirty pounds per square inch. It is known, however, that lumber so treated can be put through the kiln in less than half the time required by lumber that has not been so prepared. Such material does not case harden, honeycomb, check, end split, or warp to the extent of lumber not so steamed. All varieties are livened up in appearance, and in such woods as mahogany and oak the color is diffused so that the lumber has the appearance of having come from the same tree. The strength is not impaired and the tendency to swell when exposed to moisture is very nearly eliminated. Water stains used in finishing will not raise the grain appreciably, and on oak less filler is required.
The foregoing is written as the result of investigations now under way by THE MANUFACTURER to ascertain what benefits the furniture industry may obtain by the installation of a retort for steaming lumber under pressure, or by the use of lumber so treated. Those who are now using this lumber are enthusiastic over its possibilities
The next article will deal with actual observations in the machine room and other departments of plants where this material is being used.
The Eli D. Miller Manufacturing Company, formerly of Evansville, Ind., has begun operation at its new stand in Knoxville, Tenn., in what was formerly the plant of the Cumberland Manufacturing Company.
IS AMERICAN WALNUT COMING BACK?
The Supply is Abundant and Sufficient for Present Needs---The German Markets Overstocked With It---Can New Interest Be Created in the Wood? By GEORGE D. CRAIN, JR.
lumber, seems to show that they have a high regard for the wood, considered with reference to its intrinsic qualities alone, and as the Germans are among the leading
cabinet-makers of the world their opinion on the matter is not to be lightly regarded.
It is true, also, that one cannot get big walnut logs. The manufacture of furniture, if solid tops and panels were used, would be rendered difficult on account of the narrow lumber and the large amount of gluing up which would be necessary. But there is no reason why walnut veneers should not be used, as this would both result in a better appearance, and would conserve the supply of the wood. The practical details are not at all difficult. A furniture manufacturer who announced himself as being in the market for walnut lumber and veneers would soon find that he could get the material and that he could keep on getting it.
The situation in the lumber business, as far as walnut is concerned, shows graphically the possibilities of the wood, and seems to eliminate the theory upon which furniture manufacturers have been working heretofore, that the supply is not sufficient to "make a market" for the wood. In other words, many furniture men, who appreciate the intrinsic value of walnut, have not used it, first, because they believe that it is too difficult to restore a vogue for a wood that has gone out, and second, because they believe that the supply is insufficient to enable any general use to be made of it.
Touching on the second point first, it may be observed that millions of feet of walnut logs are held in this country at present because of the fact that the German market, which takes most of the walnut produced, is overstocked. An American lumberman, representing a large mahogany concern, said that on a trip to Germany a few months ago he saw 17,000 walnut logs piled up in one yard. The Germans are overstocked, and lumbermen in the United States, who have made a point of selling both their logs and lumber to concerns exporting to Germany, are holding their stock on account of the lack of demand and the correspondingly reduced prices which are being quoted.
As a matter of fact, there is a large supply of walnut timber. It is not big enough in the sense that the supply of mahogany, oak and gum is big; but it is ample for the needs of the trade. Should furniture manufacturers in this country decide to give American walnut a place in their operations, they would find it possible to get all the walnut they need. In nearly every lot of hardwood timber sold these days, one learns that it contains a considerable amount of walnut; and every fence-corner on the farms through the Middle West and the Central South gives up a tree now and then and makes a contribution to the supply. Thus, while there are no big forests of walnut, there are enough trees growing now to indicate that the supply is far from exhausted.
Furniture men have been talking about walnut being exhausted for fifteen years, and yet all during that time the Germans have been getting millions of feet a year from this country, and will continue to get that amount unless domestic manufacturers decide to use it themselves. The fact that the Germans are paying transportation, brokerage, yardage and other costs involved in getting American walnut to them, both in the form of logs and
Some factories which were making walnut at the height of the demand for furniture of that kind are still turning out walnut furniture. That is to say, they have been taking care of at least a small and well-defined demand for the material, so that it is not fair to say that walnut, as a furniture material, has been entirely out of the market. These factories, which are small in number, have been making a real contribution to the trade by keeping alive the idea that walnut can be had, and that it has not become obsolete.
This has a bearing also on the point suggested above, that it is difficult to restore a vogue which has gone out. Furniture manufacturers have told the writer that they would rather take a wood like figured gum, which is new and has some talking-points not before stressed, than to attempt to revive a dead proposition, such as they consider American walnut. Their attitude is that to follow the line of least resistance is the best policy, and that the public wants something which it has not had before.
This sounds very well, and would apply to fashions in women's clothes, for example. But considering the comparatively narrow range of woods available for the cabinetworker, and to be had in commercial quantities, it would be decidedly illogical to insist that something new be brought out with the frequency, say, of fashions in women's dresses. As a matter of fact, novelty of design and finish are the strongest points of appeal which one may use in building up a furniture demand; and while figured gum, to refer to the wood suggested by the manufacturers has enough good qualities to justify a permanent place in furniture manufacturing, that place will be gained and held not merely because of its being new and unused, but rather in spite of this fact.
It might almost be suggested that the same manufacturers who object to using walnut, on the ground that they cannot handle a worn-out proposition of that kind, likewise oppose using a new wood like figured gum because they dislike to run the risk of having the public refuse
to take hold of a new wood with which consumers are not yet familiar. The point is that oak and mahogany are the only staple materials for the furniture manufacturer, and that any other woods put on have either gone out or are just coming in. This does not take account of Circassian walnut, which for obvious reasons has never cut much figure, as far as the vast bulk of the furniture produced is concerned.
The present seems to be a particularly good time for the revival of walnut. The condition of the market on that wood, with prices lower than they have been and the supply much larger than it ordinarily is, would give the furniture trade a chance to take hold without running the risk of bulling the market and forcing prices up to a prohibitive degree. In fact, such a move would be welcomed by the lumber trade, inasmuch as competition for the wood would improve present conditions, a few large export houses now operating practically undisturbed in the walnut end of the business; and the return of the furniture manufacturers to the use of American walnut could not be regarded other than as a healthy sign.
Again, the changes seem to have been rung in about every possible way on the staple woods referred to. Oak has been finished in every possible way, from golden oak at one end of the line to fumed oak at the other; and mahogany has changed from the highly figured types which were wanted a few years ago to the quieter and less extreme effects produced in most of the high-grade mahogany furniture seen today. There is little left, as far as novelty is concerned, in either of these woods; and the introduction of something new would not hurt oak or mahogany very much, since both by reason of intrinsic qualities and large supply are certain of permanent and uninterrupted use, but would merely add a fillip of interest to the line of the manufacturer now restricting himself to these woods.
It seems hardly necessary to call attention to the qualities of walnut. It is famous all over the world for its workability, its durability and its excellent finishing characteristics. It wears better than any other wood, probably, and walnut furniture of a generation ago, restored to use by those who love the quaint and the unusual, looks as good and is actually as serviceable now as it was then. Walnut is really the aristocrat of domestic hardwoods, and those who have seen the continued shipments of the wood to foreign lands, and the disuse into which it has fallen at home, have been inclined sometimes to resent the lack of judgment and appreciation of American manufacturers, distributors and consumers.
The "horrible examples" of finishing such as prevailed when walnut was formerly used generally will probably not be duplicated if it comes into its own again. Instead of a high polish, obtained by the use of varnish so heavy as to obscure the beauty of the wood itself, a rubbed finish, bringing out the quiet elegance of its appearance, is required; and this, undoubtedly, is the treatment it will receive at the hands of discriminating manufacturers.
Some Disadvantages of the Rich
HE mere expenditure of money for things, so I am told by those who profess to know, soon palls upon one. The novelty of being able to purchase anything one wants soon passes, because what people most seek can not be bought with money. These rich men we read about in the newspapers can not get personal returns beyond a well-defined limit for their expenditure. They can not gratify the pleasures of the palate beyond very moderate bounds, since they can not purchase a good digestion; they can not lavish very much money on fine raiment for themselves or their families without suffering
from public ridicule; and in their homes they can not go much beyond the comforts of the less wealthy without involving them in more pain than pleasure. As I study wealthy men I can see but one way in which they can secure a real equivalent for money spent, and that is to cultivate a taste for giving where the money may produce an effect which will be a lasting benefit.-John D. Rockefeller.
Preserving the Polish
HAVE often been asked the question by dealers as to what is the best method for preserving the appearance of the polish on the pianos which have to stand in their showrooms. The question is not an easy one to answer offhand, since so much depends on the quality of the polishing in the first instance.
Inferior polish is without doubt a frequent cause of the troubles which dealers have to encounter in this respect. The secret of polishing is a good foundation. If the foundation is finished off too quickly and not allowed to stand long enough trouble is eventually bound
Different woods vary, of course, in the amount of polish required; some soak it up so thirstily that until they are really full up with polish the latter cannot stand.
But even when the polish is perfect it is bound to sweat under certain circumstances, and a few general hints, therefore will not be out of place.
To keep pianos or any polished work in good condition it is very necessary to maintain the showrooms at an equal temperature and to avoid as much gas as possible; the fumes of the gas are damp, and in condensing deposit carbon on the surfaces of the goods exposed in the shape of an oily substance, which takes up the dust, etc., and in time becomes hard and difficult to remove.
Great care should be taken in dusting to use a very soft cloth in a very light manner (in fact it would be better to blow off as much as possible), so as to take the dust off without scratching; it is then sometimes found that the surface is clammy and requires reviving, which can only be done by practice, which is easily gained in a short time. Should this treatment not be successful a good reviver is the only thing to bring it up to its natural state, but if a professional polisher is going to touch it up he would use oil and spirit. This can only be successfully accomplished by an expert
Speaking of revivers it is well to note that we do not mean that revivers should contain wax, turps and such like ingredients, as they are entirely opposed to the nature of the materials used in polishes, which is shellac, etc.The Music Trades Review, London.
The Quality of Human Interest
VEN the most unresponsive and callous individual is mellowed when convinced that you are genuinely interested in him and his welfare. In employment work we repeatedly find this true. Seemingly stolid, taciturn and unresponsive men, from whom their foremen can secure scarcely more than a grunt, come to one of our assistants who has previously shown interest in him, and pour out their very souls in confidence.
The quality of human sympathy is indispensable in dealing with others. We often criticize others harshly and unjustly, largely because we are unable to put ourselves in their place. In dealing with others, one of the cardinal principles in salesmanship is to secure the name of the person and remember it so as to address him by name when next you meet him. This is only one indirect way of showing the quality of friendly interest and sympathy.-Doctor Katherine M. Blackford.