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Join Us at the Shriner’s Auditorium Home Show Wilmington, MA Feb. 8-10 2013

Hull Forest Products wide plank wood flooring display
Visit us at the Home Show at Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, MA February 8-10, 2013

Attention Greater Boston residents! Don’t miss the opportunity to see our locally grown wood flooring in person at the Home Show at Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, MA February 8-10, 2013.  Selected floors will be 10-30 percent off. This show is free and open to the public and ample parking is available.  Save yourself the drive to our Connecticut sawmill and check us out while we’re in your back yard.

Show hours are Friday 11 am t0 10 pm, Saturday 10 am to 10 pm, and Sunday 10 am to 6pm.  we hope to see you there!

Shriners Auditorium, 99 Fordham Road, Wilmington, MA, take exit 39 off of I-93, whether you’re coming from the north or south.

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Hull Wide Plank Flooring Appears in Old House Journal

Red oak wide plank flooring from Hull Forest Products
The editors of Old House Journal selected this photo of our wide plank Red Oak flooring to accompany an article on the history of wood flooring that appeared in the Dec/Jan 2013 issue.

Interested in the history of wood flooring? Dan Cooper has written an informative article on the topic for Old House Journal, and OHJ editors selected this photo of our wide plank oak flooring (taken by Damianos Photography) to accompany the article.   Wide plank flooring is touted as a way to get a historic look or help a new addition blend with an old house. Here’s the link to the Dec./Jan 2013  OHJ article, The History of Wood Flooring.

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How to Choose a Wide Plank Wood Floor

wide plank white oak flooring from hullforest.com
Figure 1:  Hull Forest Products’ wide plank white oak flooring in a mix of 7, 8, and 9 inch widths with a semi-gloss poly finish in a Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts home. Floor #200.

Not sure what kind of wide plank wood floor you want? Flooring manufacturer Hull Forest Products recommends you ask yourself  four questions to help determine your style when choosing wide plank flooring:

1. Do you prefer a clear floor or one with some knots or other natural markings?

Clear floors, like the White Oak floor shown above in Figure 1, present a more uniform appearance. While all planks exhibit a natural beauty unique to the tree from which they came (there really are no two alike), there is a more obvious grain and color variation between the planks of floors exhibiting light to heavy character markings. (See Figure 2 below)

Natural grade White Oak flooring with character markings.
Figure 2: Natural grade live sawn White Oak with some character markings. This is the same species of wood as shown in Figure 1, but a different grade and saw cut. This natural grade of wood has character markings such as knots, bark pocket, and mineral streak.

In Figure 2 we have a natural grade of live sawn White Oak with some knots and other character markings that create a homey, less formal, atmosphere.

2. What kind of statement do you want your floor to make (or not make)?

If you want a floor that draws a lot of visual attention, you may like something with strong contrast between heartwood and sapwood, such as Hickory. Or you might prefer a floor that showcases the rustic beauty of character knots, bird peck, and other variations as unique as each individual tree.

If you want your floor to blend into its surroundings a bit more, you may prefer a traditional choice, such as Red Oak or White Oak. Trends come and go, but Oak is a classic. Eye pleasing but not attention-grabbing, Oak accounts for approximately 2/3 of all new floor installations in the United States. We offer flawless Oak floors that showcase clear grain beautifully and we offer character grade Oak floors with varying degrees of rusticity.

3. If you are not sticking with the natural wood color but are planning to stain your floor, are you going for a color that is light, medium, or dark?

Many of our clients choose to keep the natural color of the wood. Others want a bleached floor, or a very dark one. In general, lighter floors lend an open and airy feeling and can make a room seem larger, while darker floors tend to have a vintage, more formal look. Of course you can stain your floor any color you like, but it helps to start with a wood that is close to the color you are trying to achieve. In addition, some woods, such as Oak and Pine, absorb stain more readily than others and can be stained equally well light or dark.

4. Where will the floor go in your home, and what is your tolerance for dings and dents?

All wood floors develop wear marks over time. This is part of the charm of wood, an organic material. Some people actually prefer softer woods because they develop this patina more quickly. For example, our wide pine is very popular among farmhouse and period homeowners because it quickly gives an “aged” feel (See Figure 3 below). Others do not find wear charming, and they tend to choose harder woods such as Maple, Ash, Red Oak, White Oak, and Hickory.

Figure 3: Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum in Massachusetts, uses our wide plank pine. They deliberately apply no finish to the wood so it wears quickly. This floor has been subjected to heavy public foot traffic for years, aging it very quickly so it looks older than it is.

Where you plan to place the floor in your home may make all the difference in your wood selection. Depending on your tolerance, a harder wood may be a better choice for a high-traffic area, while a lower-traffic area such as a bedroom may be the best place for a softer wood.

Your choice of finish will also affect the condition of your floor, with a poly finish providing more protection than an oil finish or no finish.

Placing area rugs over your wood floor in high-traffic areas will also help reduce wear.

The beauty of solid wood floors is that they can be sanded and refinished many times and still have a lifetime of wear left in them.

See Figure 4 for an example of a hardwood floor that is subjected to heavy public foot traffic but still looks great.

Figure 4 below shows the  floor of the Frye Boot flagship store on Spring Street in lower Manhattan. We made this floor for them out of ten inch wide natural grade White Oak planks, and they chose to stain it a very dark color.  The floor we made for Frye Boot  looks fantastic and it gets walked on every day by all kinds of shoes–including high heels.

Figure 4: Our White Oak flooring in the natural grade, Frye Boot flagship store, Spring Street, lower Manhattan.

Your own living room is unlikely to ever see this level of foot traffic, but I point it out as an example of what you might want to go with if  you really don’t want to see any dings or dents on  your wood floor. For those uncomfortable with any wear, a hardwood like Oak is a great choice.

Have questions or need more advice in choosing a floor?  Our flooring specialists can help.  Browse our wide plank floors.

Call us toll-free at 1-800-353-3331 or email us today.

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Preserving May Brook Glen

Donation of May Brook Glen to Opacum Land Trust
Members of the Hull family stand with MA state senator Stephen Brewer and MA state Rep. Todd Smola at the dedication of May Brook Glen, a property donated to the Opacum Land Trust by the Hull family.

October 2010-

The Hull family has donated a 3.3 acre parcel in Holland, Massachusettts, comprising May Brook Glen to the Opacum Land Trust in order to see the parcel protected from development.

May Brook Glen has over 1,000 feet of frontage on May Brook, which rushes and tumbles over rapids in May Brook Glen and then flows into Holland’s greatest recreational asset, Hamilton Reservoir. The property includes a deep, cool hemlock shaded gorge with massive boulders that contour the river.

The land also holds an important piece of history for the Town of Holland. There are remains of a dam on the property built by Captain Nehemiah May (1730-1793), a signer of the petition to form the Town of Holland. Captain May also served as the first selectman for Holland in 1785.

The donation of this potentially developable parcel to Opacum preserves both scenic and historical resources, and will aid in protecting the water quality of Hamilton Reservoir, part of the Quinebaug River. For more information, visit the Opacum Land Trust online at www.opacumlt.org.

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Hull Forest Products Earns FSC Certification

August 2009- Hull Forest Products is now certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards and we are pleased to offer our customers FSC-certified flooring and lumber from our sawmill.

Nearly a decade ago, the Hull Forestlands were certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards.  Since then public concern about the state of the world’s forests and timber resources has increased, and we’ve taken another step—FSC chain of custody certification for our sawmill— to show that our products comply with the highest social and environmental standards on the market. Hull Forest Products has been managing forests in a responsible manner for over 40 years.  But as public demand for certified wood grows, the FSC label has become an effective way to gain consumer recognition for responsible forestry practices as well as credibility with business partners and environmental organizations.

The FSC label provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment. Hull Forest Products’ FSC certifier is SCS, Scientific Certification Systems, a leading certifier of wood products manufacturers.

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Helping Nature Conservancy Conserve Working Forests

Myers Pond Forest, Union, CT
Formally managed for timber production for over a century, the Myers Pond Forest also provides critical wildlife habitat, including wintering and staging areas for migratory waterfowl.

March 2009- By conveying an easement on 450 acres of forestland it owns and manages in Union, CT, Hull Forestlands has helped the Nature Conservancy reach its 50,000 acre mark of protected forests, rivers, and coastline across the state.

The conservation easement, established with the help of a grant from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), permanently protects Hull Forestlands’ Myers Pond Forest from development and tips the scales for the Nature Conservancy, which has now protected over 50,000 acres of forests, rivers, and coastline in Connecticut.

Located within the Quinebaug Highlands Landscape, an expanse of unbroken forests and sparkling streams in the northeast corner of the state, the Myers Pond Forest has been formally managed for timber production for over 90 years. It is home to wetlands, streams, and forest that are critical wintering and staging areas for migratory waterfowl. As part of the Highlands Landscape, the property also helps sustain the largest drinking water supply watershed in Connecticut, with benefits that trickle down all the way to Long Island Sound.

The Connecticut DEP Natural Diversity Database indicates an observance of Louisiana waterthrush on the Myers Pond property.  A variety of habitat types including exceptional sedge/tussock meadow, open water, and riparian and upland habitats are capable of supporting many additional waterfowl and migratory bird species including:  black duck, wood duck, hooded merganser, American bittern, sora, American woodcock, marsh wren and Cerulean warbler.  Cerulean warbler is considered among the rarest of breeding warblers in Connecticut requiring large blocks of interior forest such as those located on the Myers Pond property.  The streams and water bodies of the Myers Pond parcel, including Bigelow Brook, are part of the State of Connecticut DEP designated Natchaug River Greenway.

Hull Forestlands, sister company to Hull Forest Products, the largest hardwood sawmill in the tri-state region, will still own and pay taxes on the property and continue to practice responsible forest management, growing and harvesting timber to meet the needs of society.  “We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Nature Conservancy,” says Bill Hull, General Partner of Hull Forestlands. “Unlike some environmental organizations, the Conservancy recognizes that land can be used for multiple purposes—one use is not necessarily exclusive of all others—and they are willing to forge win/win relationships to achieve their goals.”

Hull Forestlands owns several thousand acres of forests in western Massachusetts that have earned certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, and selectively harvested wood from these forests is turned into woody biomass, wood chips, lumber, timbers, and flooring. These private forests also provide public benefits that make them important to the region as a whole, including wildlife habitat, enhanced air and water quality, carbon sequestration, and their contribution the rural character of the New England.

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Champion of Youth and Wildlife Award

February 2009-   The nonprofit organization Facts About Wildlife & Nature Society (FAWNS) has recognized Hull Forest Products for their long-time generous support of the Massachusetts Outdoor Expo (“The Big MOE”) with a special “Champion of Youth and Wildlife Award.”

The Big MOE is an outdoor experience where families are encouraged to sample, entirely free of charge, all of the traditional outdoor sports and wildlife activities under expert supervision.  They can fish, shoot, kayak, rock-climb, mountain-bike, see and touch wildlife, and learn about recreation and conservation opportunities.  The Big MOE also provides an opportunity for youth to participate in nature-related arts and crafts, build a bird nesting box, practice calling wild turkey and waterfowl, and savor the flavor of wild game and fish.

Hull Forest Products, of Pomfret, CT, and Russell, MA, has donated rough-cut pine for more than a thousand nesting boxes over the past several years.  Hundreds of these bird boxes are assembled and built by excited local children at the event every year, and are then brought proudly home to improve local wildlife nesting habitat.  Hull Forest Products also sponsors and presents the Forestry station at the event, teaching participants how to identify, age, and understand the management of native trees.

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Waste Not, Want Not: Recovering Optimum Value from Every Board

How the edger views a board
This photo shows how our edger views a board as it approaches the saw box. The computer models the 3D data collected by a scanner and analyzes the geometric limitations of the NHLA grade rules across several grades, combined with relative values, to obtain the optimum solution based on human-entered variables combining appearance, grade, and recovery. At a cost of $1 million, the computer-optimized edger system gives us a recovery value of 97-99 percent from each board.  

January 2004-Hull Forest Products Installs First-of-Its-Kind Edger

In 2004, Hull Forest Products installed and began running a new computer-optimized edger system that was the first of its kind in North America.

An edger is a machine that saws the round edges off boards from the saw carriage. This may sound like a simple task, but with thousands of boards sawn each day, even the best trained human operators can only be expected to perform at about 75 to 80 percent of optimal. Small errors in edging of 1/16 or 1/8 inch per board add up to significant lost profits.

With our new system, we have the ability to consistently saw products to within a couple of thousandths of an inch, yielding 97 to 99 percent of the optimal value recovery from each board. We can also saw fixed width, random width, and specialty products, as well as edge different thicknesses to different parameters, all in the same production run. This system has enabled HFP to provide more customized and value-added products to its customers, which benefits not only manufacturers and end users, but also landowners, who may receive more money for a given quantity of timber due to the increased value of a product that is manufactured using computer optimization.

The new edger cost over $1 million and is essentially a production rip saw that incorporates the latest in laser scanning and computer processing technology. In contrast with the traditional method of manually operating an edger (which requires extensive grading and math skills utilized in just a short moment to make the best decision on how to edge each individual board, at thousands of pieces each day), the new edger can process a day’s production and achieve the highest value solution on every board from the first to the last.

With minimal human input to identify grade zones and defects on the lumber, the edger scanners collect a high density 3D profile of each board within one foot of travel. As the board continues toward the saw box, the computer models the 3D data collected by the scanner and analyzes the geometric limitations of the NHLA grade rules across several grades, combined with relative values, to obtain the optimum solution based on human-entered variables combining appearance, grade, and recovery. The optimizer can evaluate over 20,000 independent solutions for each board in only tenths of a second. As the board approaches the saws, the computer finalizes its decision and directs the hydraulic system to position the saws at the correct angle and spacing. As the saws enter the cut, they slew at a rate defined by the angle and speed of the board. As the board exits the machine, it is pushed out onto the lumber deck, while the edgings are dropped into the by-product system.

The edger machine hardware was produced by Timber Machine Technologies (TMT) of Tualatin, Oregon. The scanning and software package was produced by Inovec of Eugene, Oregon. Inovec is a division of GE Infrastructure. The two companies have a history of working well together on sawmill optimization projects.

Our new edger installation was featured in The Timberline Magazine.