Here is a great example of why I love New York salvaged wood over the crap new wood that comes from god knows where.

Salvaged wood is better because it is:
saved from the overflowing landfill
does not cut down a new tree
is ‘harvested” locally from buildings
already dried out and won’t shrink or warp
is stronger
has history and spirit

That last point is so important. The new stuff is devoid of spirit compared to the old stuff. Here is a photo of new and old wood together.

Notice the rings. The rings of a tree are caused by the yearly bark growth. One year is one new growth of bark. Rings get progressively closer together as the tree ages: when you look at the cross cut of a tree the rings in the center of the tree are farther apart from each other than the rings near the outside of the tree trunk.

This is because the tree grows very quickly when young and thus the trunk expands quickly each year, leaving more space between the yearly bark rings. As the tree’s trunk slows in growth there is less expansion each year and the rings are closer together.


In the photo you see two pieces of wood. The old wood comes from a tree with at least 150 rings, which means it came from a tree at least 150 years old. It is not cut from the center of the tree since you can’t see any full circles. You only see arcs of a circle. This means the tree is definitely more than 150 years old.

Also you can see the arc of inner rings are large thus this piece of wood was cut far from the center of the tree. This means there are many rings between this piece of wood and the center. Each of those many rings are a year above the visible 150 years of rings.

The inner rings are no farther apart than the outer rings, which means this tree has stabilized in growth, which means it is very old.

I would guess this was a 300 year old tree.

This particular piece of wood is about 100 years old since it came out of a house that old. It is about 400 years old in total……

Think about it. This piece of wood was here before the city, before the settlers.

This piece of wood is magic. It has spirit.

And somebody threw it into a dumpster. It should be a crime to do that.

This wood is national heritage. It has more right to be here than we do. It has 400 years of karmic energy and the ignorant fool who threw it away without a thought clearly does not deserve to even touch it, let alone toss it in the dump.

Now look at the new piece of wood. It has 11 rings of wood. And you can see the center of the tree where it started to grow. i don’t know many rings go beyond this piece of wood so the only thing i can say with certainty is that this piece of wood is at least 11 years old.

Wow (sarcasm). A whole 11 years.

My guess is that it is cut from the center of the wood because the trunk was not much bigger than the piece of wood. I’d be surprised if the tree was more than 20 years old…..

One piece of wood is an ancient piece of history full of strength, wisdom and experience. The other is a sad excuse for wood in comparison.

As green carpenters, we at Eco Brooklyn see this energetic element of wood as important. When you touch it there is a difference. It is more than physical. It is spiritual.

I am not a Christian but I got into carpentry when I was 16 because I thought it was so cool that Christ was a carpenter. I appreciate the symbolic implication of that.

One of the largest spiritual icons of our world was a wood worker. He wasn’t a baker or blacksmith. He worked with wood.

Buddha attained enlightenment under a tree. He wasn’t next to a river or beside a rock. It was a tree.

The central imagery of esoteric Islam is The Tree of Life. Not the river of life or the mountain of life. The Tree of Life.

To acknowledge that spiritual element of wood is deeply empowering. To understand a building made with wood is more than sticks piled together but pillars of energy with the sap channels acting as life force energy lines is to understand the true basis of the Chinese Art of Space, or Feng Chui.

This is understanding that building materials have spirit is a key element of Building It Forward. To see this is to bring building to a new level and in turn elevate the spirit of the inhabitants.

To ignore it is tragedy, as evidenced by the quick and ongoing fall of our natural world.

We need to acknowledge it again. Now.