A Carefully Crafted Chest

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Nussbaum

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Nussbaum

Jonathan Nussbaum of Jonathan A. Nussbaum Furniture Maker  creates incredible, hand crafted furniture from wood sourced and grown locally. Born in Salem, Jonathan grew up with an appreciation for the forests and rivers of Oregon. His family would visit with the Deumling family at nearby Zena Forest. Their model of restoration forestry is a continued inspiration to Jonathan.

After several years in outdoor education, rafting the waters of the southern Oregon, Jonathan decided to pursue his passion as a wood craftsman. While working as a river guide, Jonathan heard many different responses to clear-cuts. Inspired by his time on the river and in places like Zena Forest, Jonathan set out to join the responsibly managed wood supply chain. After apprenticing with German Master Furniture Maker Kai Furhmann he started his own business focused on turning responsibly managed local woods into fine furniture.

One of Jonathan’s recent projects is a chest that features Red Alder and Western Red Cedar.  The project required unusually long lengths of alder in order to make the curved front of the chest from one piece of wood.   Sustainable Northwest Wood’s network of local suppliers connected Jonathan to Red Alder from Wild Thyme Farm near Olympia, Washington, a source he might not have found on his own. This allowed Jonathan to move forward with a project that might not have otherwise been possible.

The chest’s dividers are made from Western Red Cedar, which is known for its aromatic oils. This species has been used for millennia by native people in the Pacific Northwest for canoes and houses. The cedar was sourced through Sustainable Northwest Wood, from a forest restoration project on the Nature Conservancy’s Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

The result is a carefully crafted chest that showcases local wood species and the artistry of a Pacific Northwest craftsman.

BLA Members Involved: Jonathan A. Nussbaum Furniture MakerSustainable Northwest Wood

Wood Species Used: Alder, Western Red Cedar

Project Type: Furniture


A Maple Transformation

BLA members turn beautiful trees into equally beautiful, craftsman pieces. This is especially evident in the work of Jonathan Nussbaum, owner of Jonathan A. Nussbaum Furniture Maker, a BLA member and strong advocate for local, responsibly harvested wood. Jonathan works with many species of wood to create classic fine furniture that highlights the beauty of the wood he uses. One of his recent projects is work on a custom, Big Leaf Maple kitchen.  The wood for this project traveled only 60 miles from the forest to the kitchen! He has also created a walnut and spalted maple media console, as shown below.

BLA Members Involved: Jonathan A. Nussbaum Furniture Maker

Wood Species Used: Big Leaf Maple

Project Type: Cabinetry, Furniture

Ace Hotel Project

The Ace Hotel in downtown Portland is known for its unique design, local flare and commitment to sustainability. Three BLA members can attest to this first hand as their wood is being used to update and enliven the decor in the guest rooms.

The Ace management selected 100% locally harvested, FSC® certified Douglas fir for the project, which was sourced from BLA member Zena Forest Products, just west of Salem. Zena forester Sarah Deumling carefully chose the fir trees to be harvested as part of a program to restore oak habitat, reducing competition from the fir trees and ensuring that the oak could thrive in particular areas of the forest.

Kaster’s Kustom Cutting, a BLA member in Mulino, then milled the logs into lumber. Once dry, this lumber was transported to Sustainable Northwest Wood, the Portland lumberyard and BLA member that partnered with the Ace for its renovations. What a great example of a collaborative effort between BLA members to provide local, responsibility grown wood for the Ace Hotel project!

BLA Members Involved: Sustainable Northwest Wood, Zena Forest Products, Kaster’s Kustom Cutting

Wood Species Used: Douglas Fir

Project Type: Furniture

Beaver Creek Home

Nestled within the mixed conifer forest of Beaver Creek, OR, this new home is built entirely with FSC® Certified framing lumber and locally sourced hardwoods for its interior finishes. The homeowners, founders of an international environmental nonprofit, are deeply committed to responsible forestry and guided the design and build process to ensure their new home reflected these values.

Most of the wood used in this home was sourced through members of the Build Local Alliance. The framing lumber and plywood were harvested from FSC forests in Oregon and Northern California and were purchased through Sustainable Northwest Wood, as was the FSC®  Big Leaf Maple flooring used throughout the home. The Doug Fir trim that frames the interior doors and windows was grown by Hyla Woods and purchased through Sustainable Northwest Wood. BLA member Green Hammer’s urban salvage operation, Urban Timberworks, supplied the one-of-a-kind live-edge countertop for the kitchen.

The extensive use of FSC®  Certified wood products in this home won it an Honorable Mention in the Design & Build with FSC® 2011 competition.

BLA Members Involved: Sustainable Northwest Wood, Hyla Woods, Green Hammer, Urban Timberworks

Wood Species Used: Big Leaf Maple, Douglas Fir, Madrone

Project Type: Trim, Countertop

BLA Members Tackle the Living Building Challenge

Builder James Arnold and his crew at JRA Green Building Construction recently built a custom home for a client in Southwest Portland. But, it was not just any custom home. The client decided to go for the Living Building Challenge. The Challenge is a strict rating system that leaps far beyond LEED in its requirements for non-toxic, locally sourced materials for every component of the building. Wood used in the Challenge must either be reclaimed or FSC® certified, and it must all be sourced from within 200 miles of the job site.

James Arnold, a BLA member, knew who to call. He contacted Sustainable Northwest Wood, BLA member and Portland lumberyard. They were able to get beautiful, 100% FSC® and locally sourced wood from local mills, including Kaster’s Kustom Cutting, a BLA member in Mulino, for every last foot of wood in the building.

The wood was sourced from restorative forestry projects designed to improve overall forest health and help restore old growth conditions. FSC® Western Red Cedar was used for the decking and siding, bringing warmth to the clean, modern lines of the building. FSC® Big Leaf Maple was custom-milled into flooring, trim, and architectural panels for the cabinetry and interior doors. It was also used to build the eye-catching floating staircase, a focal piece in the house, as shown in photos below.

The maple cabinetry in the kitchen is a special product that was made using a veneer log on plywood cores. The maple is from another BLA member, a small custom sawmill, Zena Forest Products, which utilizes a variety of restorative forestry methods.The veneer is from Oregon grown, FSC® certified softwoods. The maple veneer and softwood base are joined beautifully by BLA member Sustainable Northwest Wood.

There are many different hardwood plywoods available on the market, but none used local hardwoods – until Sustainable Northwest Wood started making them recently. This innovative partnership between BLA members provides a beautiful way to showcase our Pacific Northwest hardwoods.

The home was designed by Michelle Jeresek, who was at Departure Design at the time and is now principal at Ivon Street Studio. It also has net zero water and energy. It generates all of its own electricity through its solar panels and Passive House design, and all of its water through an advanced rainwater harvesting system. Way to push the design envelope, BLA members!

BLA Members Involved:  JRA Green Building Construction, Sustainable Northwest Wood,  Zena Forest ProductsKaster’s Kustom Cutting, Ivon Street Studio

Wood Species Used: Western Red Cedar, Big Leaf Maple

Project Type: Flooring, Trim, Cabinetry, Doors

Fall 2013 Event & Tour – Douglas Fir


Thank you to everyone who joined us for the fall event and tour!

Participants learned about Doug Fir from Barbara Bond, Professor Emeritus of Forest Physiology at Oregon State University and were able to see how Pseudotsuga menziesii is being used in local projects from Alan Hart-McArthur, of Versatile Wood Products.

After the presentations, attendees had the opportunity to network with local business professionals, while enjoying food and beverages at the Quimby Lucky Labrador Beer Hall. Thank you to our board chair, Michael Ahr from the West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District for being the MC.

Did you know?

  • Doug Fir trees are one of the tallest trees in the world.  A Doug Fir residing in Brummit Creek, Coos County, Oregon is a whopping 327.3 ft (99.76m) tall!
  • Doug Fir’s north-south range in North American is the greatest of any commercial conifer in the West
  • BLA members’ work can be found in Timberline Lodge and Portland City Hall.

On Saturday, November 16th, we toured the First Presbyterian Church, a stunning building featuring a variety of hardwoods, including Doug Fir. Anna Myers, a historian at the church, and Alan Hart-McArthur of Versatile Wood Products shared their knowledge of the building’s past!

See you at the Spring Event, where we will be learning about red alder!

Thank you to our speakers:

  • Barbara Bond, Professor Emeritus of Forest Physiology at Oregon State University
  • Alan  Hart-McArthur, Versatile Wood Products
  • Michael  Ahr, West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Anna  Myers, First Presbyterian Church

And thanks to our Event Sponsors:







Fir Connections for a Historic Kitchen Remodel

This gorgeous kitchen remodel was completed in collaboration between three BLA members. Craftsman Design and Renovation, an award-winning Portland design-and-build firm, designed the kitchen updates. Then, in search of the perfect wood, Craftsman’s design team contacted Sustainable Northwest Wood. Sustainable Northwest Wood is a Portland lumberyard and BLA member, which supplies lumber from small mills in rural Pacific Northwest communities. Everything carried by SNW Wood is grown on forests managed to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or as part of stewardship programs restoring native ecosystems.

The result: a super-selectively harvested FSC® Pure Douglas Fir wood from a Girl Scout camp just 20 miles outside of the city. Fir is a traditional wood used in the Pacific Northwest. Though these trees were relatively young, several had extremely tight growth rings, mimicking old-growth trees. When carefully milled by BLA Member Kevin Kaster, of Kaster’s Kustom Cutting, the fir wood provided a perfect match with the existing flat-sawn trim.

This FSC® certified wood was cut through restorative forestry overseen by BLA member Trout Mountain Forestry. They manage camp properties for several youth development groups including the Girl Scouts and Camp Fire. The forest is managed in a way that promotes forest health through strategic thinning, enabling a diversity of ages and sizes of trees.

BLA Members Involved: Sustainable Northwest Wood, Trout Mountain Forestry, Kaster’s Kustom Cutting

Wood Species Used: Douglas Fir

Project Type: Cabinetry

Photos by Pete Eckert for Craftsman Design and Renovation.

Spring 2012 Showcase

Recap: Celebrating the Big Leaf Maple

Thanks to our members, supporters, sponsors, and speakers for joining us at our Spring Showcase at the Lucky Labrador Beer Hall on April 17th. Our Showcase featured the beautiful Big Leaf Maple. Highlights included presentations by Michael Ahr—Forest Conservationist, West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District; Rod Jacobs—Owner and Sawyer, Unique Woods; Robert Wood—Certified Master Builder, Mountainwood Homes; and a maple syrup tasting for all attendees!


Spring 2013 Showcase: Ash & Cottonwood

Thanks to everyone who made it out to our Spring Showcase Event on Wednesday April 17th at 6:30pm at the Lucky Lab Beer Hall! The event was a big success with great presentations on our local species Ash and Cottonwood.

We’d like to especially thank our fantastic line-up of speakers:

  • James Ray Arnold of JRA Green Building
  • Robert Wortman of Heartfelt Woodworks
  • Glenn Ahrens of OSU Forestry Extension
  • Scott Ferguson of Trout Mountain Forestry

In addition BLA members were able to enjoy a free beer during the event thanks to our sponsor Sustainable Northwest! The night concluded with some great discussions and networking time. Thanks to everyone who helped make the event a big success and we hope to see you again for our next BLA event soon!