Watch Wood Go Through a Milling Machine in This Stop-Motion Animation

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The journey of a log through a milling machine – or at least, a really convincing approximation of it – is captured in mesmerizing detail by this stunning stop-motion animation by photographer Brett Foxwell called ‘Woodswimmer.’ Thousands of photos were captured during the process of sanding away the surface of the wood a bit at a time, so you not only watch the log transform, you get to take a journey through its history.

Short of somehow fitting a camera and lighting inside a real machine to get a similar view, Woodswimmer is probably the closest we’ll ever get to this highly unusual and surprisingly fascinating perspective.

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“A music video made entirely from wood for a song by, WoodSwimmer is based on a concept I developed while designing a new stop-motion universe where wood is the primary element,” says Foxwell. “The sequences are cross-sectional photographic scans of pieces of hardwood, burls and branches. It is a straightforward technique but one which is brutally tedious to complete.”

Innovative Wood Floors Made of Waste Pulp Generate Renewable Energy

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How do you make a renewable, natural, oxygen-producing, CO2-storing material even more sustainable? Make it as close to zero-waste as possible. Wood waste left over after milling lumber already gets put to myriad valuable uses, from paper products to biomass fuel, and a new innovation will actually enable it to produce clean energy. Engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered a way to manufacture wood floors embedded with wood pulp nanofibers that generate electricity when you step on them.

Chemically treated, tiny cellulose fibers within the waste pulp produce an electrical charge when they come in contact with untreated nano fibers. Stepping on wood floors enhanced with these fibers generates electricity, effectively harnessing energy from footsteps without the need for complex equipment.

Published in the journal Nano Energy on September 24th, 2016, the method is ingeniously simple and inexpensive, with the potential to produce electricity that can be harnessed to power lights or charge batteries. The technology can easily be incorporated into virtually every kind of wood flooring that’s already on the market, including Eastern White Pine.

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The functional section of the wood containing the electricity-producing fibers takes up less than a millimeter in thickness, so it doesn’t significantly alter the shape or look of the wood. To produce more energy, manufacturers could simply add more layers.

The technology is currently being tested and optimized on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, with a prototype in development to demonstrate the concept.

“Our initial test in our lab shows that it works for millions of cycles without any problem,” says Xudong Wang, an associate professor of materials science and engineering who’s working on the project. “We haven’t converted those numbers into year of life for a floor yet, but I think with appropriate design it can definitely outlast the floor itself.”

Solve a Puzzle to Turn Each Page in This Amazing Wooden Book

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Skyscrapers can be made of wood, gadgets can be made of wood, wood can be made as transparent as glass – seriously, what can’t wood do? The latest cool and unexpected wooden design is so intriguing, it has already raised over five times its goal on Kickstarter with twenty days remaining on its fundraising campaign. ‘Codex Silenda’ is a five-page book made of wood, each page featuring an intricate puzzle. To turn the page, you have to figure out how to unlock the corresponding bolts.

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“As the puzzler moves through the book, a story begins to unfold, depicting the story of an apprentice in Da Vinci’s Workshop who encounters the same Codex. However in the story the Codex acts as a trap set by Da Vinci to capture any would be spies/snoopy apprentices in order to protect his work. The only way to escape is to solve each of the puzzles before the master returns from his trip.”

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The puzzles look pretty incredible, full of rotating parts and wheel mechanisms, and every single piece is made of laser-cut, hand-assembled wood. Laser cutting technology is what allows these complex parts to be made quickly, precisely and consistently enough to be produced on a large scale. So what inspired the Codex?

“The problem with puzzles today is they are either simple and cheap or handcrafted and supremely expensive,” say the creators, Brady Whitney and Hanna Humphrey, on the Kickstarter page. “Yet once you’ve solved either type of puzzle, you know the solution and have no desire to ever play with the puzzle again. The Codex addresses this issue of deployability by offering five puzzles in one, an intriguing story that ties everything together and a hidden storage compartment. On top of that, the beautiful design makes it perfect for putting on display in your home!”

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The fact that this puzzle book is made of wood is what truly makes it a collector’s item. It’s beautiful, durable, and there are no high-tech parts to fizzle out or go obsolete all too quickly. The pre-sales offered to Kickstarter backers have sold out, but perhaps this imaginative project will inspire more people to create such cool wooden curiosities. Learn more about how the puzzles work here.

Wooden Wonders: You’ve Never Seen a Staircase Quite Like This

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This shockingly beautiful staircase stands as a sculptural centerpiece within the Atrium office tower in Tel Aviv, Israel, with spiraling steps leading up to a tornado-shaped deck. Designed by architect Oded Halaf and built by Tomer Gelfand, the structure is not just a work of art in its unusual shape, it’s an example of how high-tech design and traditional woodworking can come together for modern usage.

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29,527 feet of raw poplar were cut using a CNC machine to form a series of arches, which were assembled on-site into the final shape. Navigating it isn’t meant to be as simple as taking a functional set of stairs to get from one level of a building to the next; it’s an experience in itself, taking in the whole structure from a new angle with every step.

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The firm Tomer Gelfland uses advanced design and simulation software to create digital models that calculate exactly how much wood is needed, and the precise angles at which it will need to be cut and assembled. This information is fed to the CNC machine to make the cuts, but the wood is finished by hand. You can view the construction and assembly process at the firm’s website. 

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This gorgeous project is just a peek into the future of wood as a sustainable, durable and incredibly versatile material that will be increasingly utilized in ultramodern settings.

Toyota Unveils Wooden Car Made Using Traditional Japanese Joinery

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The strength and durability of traditional Japanese joinery techniques are put to the test with Toyota’s ‘Setsuna,’ a vehicle made almost entirely from wood. No nails, screws or glue were needed to assemble the thousands of wooden parts that went into the creation of this prototype thanks to ‘okuriari’ and ‘kusabi,’ also known as housed dovetail joints and fox-wedged mortise and tenon joints.

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Designed to be a family heirloom, the Setsuna proves that cars don’t have to be technologically advanced to be modern-day marvels. Gadgets come second to the beauty of the wood in this ten-foot-long two seater, which has 86 body panels made from Japanese cedar. These panels can be fitted and removed without fasteners, so the dovetailing and mortise joints can be maintained over time if they wear down.

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In fact, if properly maintained, the car could last over one hundred years, says Toyota. “When we created the Setsuna, we envisaged a family pouring its love into it over generations so that the car gains an irreplaceable value. Continuous development is possible in the form of bonds between the car and the family, like the growth rings of a tree. To proceed with the development of a car utilizing the appeal of wood, we directly spoke with experts with wide-ranging knowledge, including carpenters specializing in temple and shrine construction and ship’s carpenters.”

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It’s unclear just how this wood construction would hold up in an accident, and it’s probably not exactly street legal, but it sure is beautiful.

Timber Tech: Even Gadgets Can Be Made of Wood!

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Who says gadgets have to be made from throwaway, environmentally unfriendly plastics? Just as with furniture, decor, household items and even architecture, they’ll last longer – and look a lot more beautiful – when they’re hand-crafted from high quality wood. Timber tech might seem like a gimmick upon first glance, but it’s actually a step in a more sustainable direction, and these gorgeous items are just as functional as their more conventional counterparts.

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Take for example this multitouch trackpad and numerical keyboard, each constructed from a single piece of wood. Compatible with any Mac OS, Windows 7 or 8 computer, these items connect wirelessly via Bluetooth and are available at the Design Boom store.

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The wooden Tok Tok ‘Trobla’ speaker consists of a system of detachable wooden pieces designed to fit different generations of iPhones and other smartphones. You simply insert your phone in the top, and the sound is amplified through a special chamber that enhances the stereophony and low frequencies.

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Maybe you can’t actually push any of the buttons or adjust the other ‘controls’ laser-engraved onto this fun wooden boombox, but you don’t need to – you control it through your phone or computer. Connect via Bluetooth or 3.5mm audio input to project sound through two 3-inch full-range speakers.