Hand Powered Tree Sawing Machine (1822)

Hand powered tree saw

A hand powered sawing machine to harvest trees. Click on the illustration to see the full plans. Source: Bulletin de la Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale, june 1822.

Building With Whole Trees

Whole Trees Architecture via The New York Times.

TimberTower: a High-Tech Wind Turbine, Made from Trees

Timbertower Our article on industrial windmills appeared on The Oil Drum and, as could be expected, this generated many interesting comments. One in particular was made by a reader named “anyone“, who sent in a link about a high-tech wind turbine placed on a tower made entirely of wood.

So while we suggested to redesign traditional windmills by using modern, high-tech materials, the German company TimberTower proposes the opposite: redesign modern wind turbines by using traditional, low-tech materials.

Large wind turbines are usually made of steel, and while they definitely deliver more energy over their lifetime than it takes to produce them (contrary to small wind turbines), using no energy at all would of course be even better – and cheaper.

Wood is easier to transport (the TimberTower is manufactured out of glued laminated timber panels which are assembled on-site), doesn’t need to be mined, has no corrosion issues (think of offshore turbines), and it captures carbon. And while trees bend in strong winds, they usually don’t break.

Using a timber tower for a 100 metre high wind turbine can save approximately 300 tons of sheet steel, writes the company at their website. One “TimberTower” also ties up approximately 400 tons of CO2. They say they can build them as high as 200 metres. Serial production should start in 2010. More:  TimberTower. Related: wooden pipelines, wooden bridges.

Hand Powered Table Saw

Table saw jointmaker Pro R2

The Jointmaker pro R2 is a great example of a modern tool being high-tech and low-tech at the same time. And it’s already sold out. Video here. Update: there is a new version available, the Jointmaker Pro v2. Related: Human powered drilling tools and machines / Hand powered tree sawing machine.

Scale Models of Dutch Windmills

scale model dutch windmill

Penterbak shows a dozen scale models of traditional Dutch Windmills. The text is in Dutch, but that should not stop you. Above: a saw mill. Some building plans are here, here and here. Related: Wind powered factories – the history (and future?) of industrial windmills.

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Wooden Bridges

wooden bridge new

This wooden bridge (length 32 metres, width 12 metres, height 16 metres) was inaugurated on April 15th in Sneek, the Netherlands. The “Krúsrak” is the first wooden bridge in the world that can support the heaviest load class of 60 tons. Its life expectancy is 80 years.

Thanks to a chemical treatment of the softwood, the bridge can withstand insects, fungi and the harsh weather conditions in the most northern province of the Netherlands (Friesland). Wooden bridges require much less energy to construct than steel or concrete bridges.

Only the road-surface of the “Krúsrak” is made of steel – originally it was planned to be of wood, too, but then it should have been 2 metres thick. More information here (in English) and here (in Dutch).

Related: Covered bridges – how to build and rebuild them. Also: wooden pipelines.