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10/31/2013
Scrollsaw basic course
Introductory scroll saw course
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אומנות בעץ > Words
 
Do those who love wood and woodworking also love trees?
 
Since ancient times a complex relationship has existed between humanity on the one hand and the forests, the trees and the wood, on the other hand. Human civilization from its very beginnings, marched hand in hand with wood. It was the most accessible construction material, and the easiest to use and work with, in answering many human needs.
 
Wood was the raw material for the construction of homes, fences and boats. It was used to make weapons and tools, as fuel for cooking and heating, and as a source of food. Trees provided protection from the elements and a means of marking out territory.
 
During thousands of years of human history the supply of trees and wood was far greater than the demand. There was no need to give attention to the manner of growth of trees or to the ways use of wood.
 
Only in the past hundred years has the balance between the demand for the resource and the pace of its renewal been disrupted. Growing population and rising living standards have brought a steep increase in the demand for wood products in general and paper and cardboard in particular. Even though we live in the Space Age, with all sorts of exotic synthetic materials available, the demand for wood continues to rise steeply. In the developed countries the annual per capita consumption is about four tons, about half for paper products.
 
Two factors made it possible until quite recently to ignore the dwindling capacity of the forests to supply the raw material, wood. The one was the expanding use of oil as an alternative source of energy.   The other was different technological developments, particularly in the field of adhesives. These led to the manufacture of a wide range of composite boards and brought a sharp rise in the efficiency of use of the raw material.
 
However we can no longer ignore the fact that the forests of the world have been decimated, in many regions beyond the point where the process is reversible. Most of the remaining natural forests of the planet are in third world countries, where much of the population struggles hard for mere survival. People burn forests to clear land for cultivation or settlement. They cut down trees in order to trade them for foreign currency. But only about 3% of the forests are popular species and are saleable in the world market.
 
The remaining forests of the temperate regions are also exploited.   There is some man made reforestation, but mostly of evergreen trees, intended for the paper industry. There in little to no replanting of hardwood trees.
 
The time has passed when wood could be taken for granted. Where once it was the only option, or at least the preferred one, other materials have come to be used. Composites are being used in the making of furniture and in building construction. Metals are used in construction, plastic for furniture and utensils, and so on.
 
But there is a place where there is no substitute for the living tree or for the wood that it produces.
 
For those of us for whom wood is our chosen raw material, for whom wood "does something",
its fragrance during work, its silken touch after the final finish, its warmth, the sense it gives of closeness to nature, there is no substitute.
 
And the forests; they are an ecological must for the well being of the world as we know it on the one hand, and widens our hearts when we walk among its inhabitants, the majestic trees, on the other.
 
Too little is done, to save the forests. But trees, being a renewable resource, make it still possible, to turn back the destructive process. At the same time, wood is becoming a more valuable and more expensive commodity and its use is becoming more selective.
 

And to the question we started with, do those who love wood and woodworking also love trees? Of course, could it be any other way ?!?


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