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A Case for Wood

A Case for Wood-webThe following historic commentary was penned by Charles M. Hines, President of Edward Hines Lumber Company on August 15, 1960 as part of a company marketing pamphlet extolling the benefits and uses of wood products.  And 53 years later, these words are as strickingly relevant and contemporary as they were then!

“The durability of wood is legendary. Rightly so. No other structural material, natural or man-made, combines the utility and lasting qualities of wood. No other material requires so little care and maintenance. The conditions necessary to preserve long life are far less exacting for wood than for any other structural material.  Two years ago, while digging near Ankara, Turkey in an area adjacent to the tomb of King Midas, archeologists from the University of Pennsylvania came upon massive wood beams which have remained perfectly sound during 2,700 years . The beams were found in the tomb of King Gordius, established as King Midas’ father. The wood from which the beams are formed is a species similar to our pine. It has received no special treatment. The beams themselves are hand-hewn, beautifully sanded and smoothed , and so expertly fitted that even after these many centuries the joint s are practically invisible.

Other findings unearthed by scientists in recent years have been equally astounding to us. But why should this be? Beginning with the earliest recorded history, when Man first emerged from dark caves, he has looked to wood for his primary shelter. Why, then, must we be reminded in mid-20th century of what the human race has known always!

The venerable old colonial homes throughout New England stand as a more recent reminder of wood’s incomparable durability. Many still retain the original wood sash, siding, and exterior trim after more than 300 years. Since then, the nation has spread from one ocean to the other while building with wood. No historian could conceive of our tremendous growth without wood as the basic raw material. The myriad of uses for which wood has been adapted speak eloquently of its versatility.

Truly, if wood did not exist on our earth it would have to be invented! Civilization could nowhere exist at its present level. Try to imagine man’s state of development without wood!  Instead of rockets into space, and nuclear armaments, we could easily be locked in a deadly competition with unfriendly nations in the development of this thing called “wood”. This morning’s newspaper might well be filled with dire warnings of our economic disaster if we should lose in the race for development of this most remarkable material!

The truth is that we actually do need to be reminded of the advantages and the inherent qualities of wood. Any traditional material can be placed at a serious disadvantage in the tempo of modern life. Today the public is preoccupied with the novelty of anything new, if only for the sake of newness. New, seemingly glamorous materials are being pushed into uses f or which they are not adapted, and in which failures can even be predicted.  At the same time, the traditional material seems the victim of too few facts and many unfounded fantasies. Superstitions and old wives’ tales perpetuate themselves here as in other areas of thought and wood is not immune to popular misconceptions. Even those who merchandise wood are often, inadvertently at fault.

The story of and for wood is a story worth telling.”


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