The future of Wood.

HomeBuiltAirplanes.com

Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes.com:

Staggermania

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Apr 11, 2014
Messages
347
Location
Dahlonega Georgia
I suppose someone with an entreprenureal bent (and $$$) could find a trustworthy source, purchase a truck load of quarter sawn DF out west, and start grading and marketing it.
 

TFF

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
13,055
Location
Memphis, TN
The model balsa industry started when a dockworker who built models in the early days saw the balsa as we use foam packing thrown away on the docks. He bought a table saw and was sawing free wood in his apartment in the NY city area.

Somewhere about ten years ago when wind mills started to be massed produced, China was going to South America and buying up forests of Balsa. ARF models had this big run of cheap good planes coming out of China until this happened. They doubled and tripled in price overnight and just buying balsa became almost impossible in the US unless it was already on the shelf. I went to the Balsa USA factory while I was on a business trip. Bunch of warehouses full of balsa. One was about half full of a high school gym of balsa to the ceiling. The guy said they were down to almost empty when the supply loosened.

Same happened to Spruce. The issue for Spruce is it is being made into musical instruments which is a much more regular commodity. Think making 500,000 violins a year where everywhere else would have been making 5000. No way to complete with scale.
 

Aviacs

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
85
I suppose someone with an entreprenureal bent (and $$$) could find a trustworthy source, purchase a truck load of quarter sawn DF out west, and start grading and marketing it.
A few weeks ago i linked some of these posts to a sawmill in the PNW that saws high grade QS DF. (i know the principals) Suggested some connections with EAA tech counselors out there for on-site advice. Linked some commercial current sources/retailers. They are intrigued, will see if anything comes of it "eventually". The market is so tiny it's almost a nuisance, though. And the price of high grade, relatively close grain DF is fairly high, without the nuisance factor of sorting, grading and drying for AC spec. I mean 1 MBF quantities for small scale work, or truckload (7 - 10 MBF) are the norm in millwork. How many of you guys want even 100 BF minimum per order? Would you buy it RWL (In the rough, random width and length as it comes off the mill) or do you need it processed and planed to aproximate dimension? As a first step refinement, what thickness would you be most likely to buy, for further processing in your shops? 4/4, 5/4, 6/4, 8/4? What actual widths (say 4" through 10") ?

Further price resistance occurs with (potential) customers due to factors unrelated to the mill: just the cost of packing & shipping largish bundles of "valuable" commodity in small value lots.

How big is the Doug Fir aircraft market in a year? Does it even break $250K total? (I'm very roughly guessing 250 kits including restorations and wings for "other" started, with between $500 to $1,500 in wood?

smt
 

Speedboat100

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Messages
1,066
Location
Europe
The model balsa industry started when a dockworker who built models in the early days saw the balsa as we use foam packing thrown away on the docks. He bought a table saw and was sawing free wood in his apartment in the NY city area.

Somewhere about ten years ago when wind mills started to be massed produced, China was going to South America and buying up forests of Balsa. ARF models had this big run of cheap good planes coming out of China until this happened. They doubled and tripled in price overnight and just buying balsa became almost impossible in the US unless it was already on the shelf. I went to the Balsa USA factory while I was on a business trip. Bunch of warehouses full of balsa. One was about half full of a high school gym of balsa to the ceiling. The guy said they were down to almost empty when the supply loosened.

Same happened to Spruce. The issue for Spruce is it is being made into musical instruments which is a much more regular commodity. Think making 500,000 violins a year where everywhere else would have been making 5000. No way to complete with scale.

Yes it is a bit funny that balsa is being used in HAWT wind mills, that only last for 10-20 years and are problematic waste after that..
 

TFF

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
13,055
Location
Memphis, TN
My guess for rough lumber would be 6/4 if green. Minimum of 5/4. Shipping is the key. If a good chunk could get to the Eastern US without doubling the cost, it would probably be a winner. 100bdft is probably four sets of wing spars. If 100% useable. Quality is the real key. If it’s superior, it’s worth it.
 

Toobuilder

Well-Known Member
Log Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2010
Messages
4,775
Location
Mojave, Ca
I cant help but think about the incredible supply of viable "project" homebuilts on the market RIGHT NOW that nobody wants. Who the hell cares if the wood supply dries up tomorrow? What is the real market here? Probably slightly more than nothing.
 

Speedboat100

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Messages
1,066
Location
Europe
I cant help but think about the incredible supply of viable "project" homebuilts on the market RIGHT NOW that nobody wants. Who the hell cares if the wood supply dries up tomorrow? What is the real market here? Probably slightly more than nothing.

Rainforests are being cut down at an alarming rate.
 

TFF

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
13,055
Location
Memphis, TN
It is amazing how picky someone can be for a low buck plane. Turn away from fliers under $10,000 like a leper. Planes way higher on the food chain than they would be building. What doesn’t make sense is the guys with the $100k planes, if they could not afford them, would be all over the cheap planes just to fly something. Not the budget people. Just looking on barnstormers and at the $5k level, there is $30k airplanes almost complete. Hiperbipe project with engine,$8500.
 

blane.c

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Jun 27, 2015
Messages
3,906
Location
capital district NY
The one thing that stands out to me is that trees can be farmed and fabric covering although today is synthetic a few decades ago though it could be farmed, so except for the engine and some hardware you could build an airplane from farmed products. Farmed products are renewable. Every other way of getting material for an aircraft requires mining and refining or drilling (a form of mining) and refining. Mining is not renewable, sometimes recyclable but not renewable.

You can only buy two kinds of products, it is either farmed or it is mined. Either renewable or sourced.
 

Hot Wings

Grumpy Cynic
HBA Supporter
Log Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2009
Messages
7,080
Location
Rocky Mountains
would be all over the cheap planes just to fly something. Not the budget people. Just looking on barnstormers and at the $5k level, the << >>Hiperbipe project with engine,$8500.
If it weren't for the politics and the minimum services clause in the required contract at my airport I'd be all over planes like these to start an Experimental only flying club. Lots of resources out there just wasting away.:(
 

TFF

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
13,055
Location
Memphis, TN
The problem with aviation wood is slow farming. Can you wait 80 years to build your plane? It’s a resource that will run out for what it’s being sucked up for too. It’s interesting that carbon fiber instruments sound really good and are tougher than a wood version, yet they are not massed produced for consumption. Some for snobbery, but wouldn’t it be better to give your kid a plastic violin they can stand on and sounds superior to cheap wood ones? Let them earn the wood one. Loggers probably hate watching the good trees go arbitrarily or go overseas.

On airports, they do stuff like this against federal policy, but you can’t fight it on any regular person’s budget and if you could afford to fight it, they are not going to bother you with your doings because you can afford to.
 

lr27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2007
Messages
3,822
Should enough industrialists decide to do so, I'm sure plastics, carbon fiber, etc. can be made from waste materials. You might have to convert the stuff to uniform goo first, I suppose. Oil is just dead plants with a few animals thrown in, isn't it?
 

JohnBouyea

Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2019
Messages
12
Location
Hillsboro, Oregon
This thread has become pretty far off topic. I asked about Hem-Fir.
Further research found it is just a marketing term for a mix of what you'll find in the stacks of material for sale under that description. Going deeper into trying to determine which of the mixed lot is actually Western Hemlock lead me to scientific texts and photos. Example: https://woodidentification.net/western-hemlock There are also historical pieces about how that species [Tsuga heterophylla] has escalated in value and worth as a building material over the years.
FAA lists Western Hemlock as an acceptable alternative to Sitka Spruce which has gotten too expensive for simple airplane projects to be viable.
 

ToddK

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
312
Location
The Real Texas
I cant help but think about the incredible supply of viable "project" homebuilts on the market RIGHT NOW that nobody wants. Who the hell cares if the wood supply dries up tomorrow? What is the real market here? Probably slightly more than nothing.
Hard to say. Depends on how many people would be willing to switch woods. It took me 8 weeks to get the spruce for my CubMajor.

Projects can certainly be a good value that often sell for pennies on the dollar. The only issue is working behind the first builder(s). There were many things on the Chinook Plus 2 that I rebuilt that left me scratching my head, and ultimately had to come right off and go into the trash. Including a trim tab that was put on backwards and flown for 200hrs that way buy the previous owner. His left leg must have been useless after each flight. Thankfully the owners of the factory were on airport and were incredibly helpful and supportive during the rebuild and testing. After that experience, I will not purchase a project that is much more then an uncovered structure. I want to plumb it, rig it, wire it, power it, and wrap it myself.
 

lr27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2007
Messages
3,822
I've finished two boat projects that other people started. I think in one case it might have been easier to start from scratch and certainly the result would have looked better. So I'd be reluctant to take on an airplane project with much work completed on it unless I had a very good reason to think the first guy was at least as talented and careful as I would be. (Possibly a low bar.)
 
Top