What do we do to our logs to turn them into the kind of hardwood lumber we need to make the kind of furniture we want? And since we are so dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the wood, why process at all? The answer is that some processing is essential to create quality furniture that lasts, but we insist on as minimal a process as possible.
When we mill the hardwood logs into lumber we exclusively flitch saw them. This means that we are creating natural edge lumber. When the logs are flitch sawed the edges are not trimmed to make perfectly rectangular lumber; rather the irregular natural edges are retained.
The next process is debarking. The tree bark is removed by hand from the natural edge lumber with a draw knife. Why do we remove the tree bark from the natural edge hardwood lumber? Wouldn't it be that much more natural looking if we left the bark on? Possibly, but most tree bark will eventually fall off after milling which we are sure would not delight our customers if it happened in their living room. Also the bark retains moisture that can cause problems in the drying process.
Speaking of the drying process, once again we opt for the most natural and least environmentally disruptive process: Natural air drying. This is a long slow process; when we stack our lumber to naturally air dry it takes years. In Alabama, to lower the internal moisture of our natural edge lumber to about 30% it takes one year per inch of thickness. Most of our natural edge hardwood lumber is cut 3 to 4 inches thick so we're looking at three to four years of drying. This natural air drying not only limits the carbon footprint of our enterprise, it also allows the stresses associated with drying (the shrinking) to ease without causing breaks.
Our final process is some kiln drying, a process we keep to a minimum by the extensive natural air drying. This lasts about two weeks and is essential for producing furniture grade hardwood lumber (and if any additional stress and cracking take place, it occurs in the kiln and not in our customer's home or hotel).
The RWF way of doing things: Minimal processing with maximal respect for the environment to produce the highest quality and most beautiful product.