Starting at the top of the Vegetable Kingdom – Trees . . . There is so much information out there about “Wood” that it is both easy and hard to find what you want/need. Here are just a few that I like:
The Wood Database, and specifically its Wood Finder: this is a private/crowdsourced project, and it is a useful way to start to make sense of the vast variety of species out there. With the ability to search by color, strength, location – it also includes information on the very important . . .
CITES List: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, aka CITES (why not CITESWFF . . .?) is an important resource for anyone working with natural materials. Updated regularly to – hopefully – protect dwindling resources and ensure their survival. Most people think of animals going extinct, but, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, of their survey of half of the known plant species – almost 70% are endangered.
Think Wood: a sort of uber-industry group, this site is a merger between a number of North American trade groups, but does have some solid information on innovations in timber technology.
Moving down the foodchain, in terms of size, we come to bamboo:
World Bamboo Organization. Not the most helpful site in terms of actual information on the material, but its rather-poorly-named BamBook is a good place to find a local source of both information and the material.
[Better information on the possibilities of bamboo can be found here, and here. I was intrigued by the second resource, Guadua Bamboo, as they have done a fair bit of experimenting with the shaping of bamboo as it grows. So have the people at Lewis Bamboo, though they are looking at shaping the profile of the material . . .]
Cotton Incorporated: created when “King Cotton” (of US royalty) was losing its grip on the fiber market, due primarily to the rise of synthetics, Cotton Inc. is a research and promotion industry group. Their site has a tremendous amount of information on markets, technologies, and materials.
La Confédération Européene du Lin & du Chanvre/The European Confederation of Flax and Hemp (CELC): a remarkably informative site about remarkably interesting materials. You will never look at these two in the same way.
Future Fibers: a site run by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN where you’ll find all sorts of information on Jute, Sisal, Abaca, and Coir. I have to assume that the UN is pulling out a rare ironic moment, as these are ancient fibers that powered early civilizations. That said, they are incredibly useful.
Wood K Plus: a German think-tank for wood and wood-based products. While this isn’t either an information site, or a manufacturer, one will get a sense of what is coming in terms of next-generation wood products.
Bolefloor: this Estonian wood-floor manufacturer uses proprietary software to construct innovative, “live edge” floors that maximize the amount of wood obtained from every tree.
Urban Timber: a purveyor of interesting reclaimed, charred, and otherwise different wood products.
Columbia Forest Products: one of the leaders in sustainable wood production, CFP’s most notable contributions is Purebond plywood.
Medite: MDF and OSB are not usually associated with “advanced technology”, but here they are.
FlexForm: innovative natural-fiber non-wovens for automotive and office products.
PlyBoo: horrible name, interesting products. I have especially liked their milled plywood effects.
Lingrove: why use fiberglass when you can use linen? Lingrove supplies a variety of reinforced-resin products using linen instead of synthetics.
Procedes Chenel: This company takes paper further, creating interesting interior finishes.
Molo: The original honeycomb interior product. They always manage spectacular tradeshow booths.
Reboard: The uber-cardboard. Remarkably useful/sustainable stuff.
Tencel: some of the most advanced wood cellulose fibers.