Forest lands and forest industries


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Forest lands and forest industries
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Winslow, Carlile P
Forest Products Laboratory (U.S.)
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory ( Madison, Wis )
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aleph - 29392818
oclc - 757389349
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Carlile P. 17inslow
Director, Forest Products Laboratory-1
Forest Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture

Markets for forest products are the neck of the
industrial bottle through v"hich forest lands .iay .'nate-ially
contribute to our economic development. It is because of
the magnitude and diversification of such market: thnt we
have been able to develop upon our unparalleled timonr
resources enormous industrial,financial, and territorial
activities, w-hich'- in capital invested, value of products,
a.nd labor employed rank collectively in the foreground of
our national developments, It is upon the stability of such
markets that rests the security of the millions of dollars
invested in timber and timber lnnds, logging equipment,
mills, wood-working factories, -cod-preserving plants,
naval-stores operations, railroads, wharves, ships, b.nks,
stores, roads, schoolhouses, and dwellings, and, of euual
or greater importance, the security of a yearly labor pay-
roll of- one and one-fourth billion dollars aggregate for
over 1,110,000 men in America's forest industries, includ-
ing pulp and paper.

The successful continuation and future development
of these gigantic and ramified economic interests are being
threatened by the declining consumption of lumber.

Had the per capital lumber consumption from- 1899
to 1909 continued, the 1939 gross consumption would have
been almost twice vhat it -'as in an era of prosperity and
building activity never reached before (1920-29), when the
consumption of all other -iajor building materials %-as
greatly increased. Gross lumber consumption actually de-
creased, hovtever, and enlargement of rood consumption for
pulp, paper, and other uses has by no means replaced in
volume the shrinkage in lu..iber consumption.

This reduction in markets for lumber since 1903,
vwhen a peak in lumber consumption iwas reached, has not been
due to a reduction in potential outlets for lu..-:ber.
Although the large expansion in farming with its lu.aber
requirements for buildings began to fall off at about that
time, industrial development increased at svch a rapid rate
.LHIaintained at Ma.dison, "is., in cooperation with the
R9Uiversity of '"isconsin.

thereafter that there was no dearth of potential opportunities
for the use of lumber. Neither had the price of lumber
increased to such an extent that it had become prohibitive
for general construction purposes. 7ith neither potential
outlets nor price standing in the way, what is it that has
caused a severe decline in lumber consumption in the face of
an increase in population and in industrial development?
The answer lies largely in that wood and other forest products
have not kept pace with the development of other competin-

Uses long held by wood have been contested both by
old -aaterials refined by science and by new materials of
scientific origin, promoted in industry with the a:.d cf
extensive technical knowledge of their properties. Metal
lath and window sash, synthetic boards, all-metal automobile
bodies and airplanes, steel desks, metal doors and trim,
composition floors, concrete bridges and piling, asbestos
and tile roofing, metal poles and posts, petroleum paint
thinners, synthetic wood alcohol -- these are but a few
illustrations of the prevailing tendency tc'jard substitu-
tion. The real and constant quest of modern Americans for
technical progress and improved products and service are
factors that must be candidly faced. If in the case of any
material, wood included, it is assumed that it will stand
for all time on the strength of its past and present state of
perfection, there is almost a certainty, because of ohe
increasing interchangeability of materials, that its use will
steadily diminish.

A review of the facts and tendencies of the market
situation leads to the inevitable conclusions that our require-
ments for forest products in the future will not be what they
have been in the past, either in form or quantity; that it
cannot be taken for granted that because per capital consumption
of forest products has been high in the past it will automati-
cally so continue in the future; that new forms and economies
in the use of the basic raw materials, such as are represented
by notable developments during recent years in steel-skeleton
construction, veneered coverage, and large-size structural
units of light weight, may upset the most exact predictions
based on past experience; and that there is an important
distinction between the need for wood. as a cheap raw material
for conversion by industry into salable commodities in a
highly competitive field, and wood or forests essential
in themselves for other purposes.

Once recognizing these conditions, we may turn
attention to ways and means for retaining, recapturing and
'.'xparding markets for forest products. This w-ll require



persistent and unflagging accomplishments in four distinctive
fields: First, a lowering of costs to the consumer; second,
an increase in satisfaction in the use of the product through
improvement of properties and qualities; third, the develop-
ment of new products or -nodified products; and, fourth, the
promotion of popular acceptance and use of the products by
all legitimate contributory means that may be effective.

The development and application of whatever measures
are necessary to make progress in these fields are the concern
of both private industry and the public. Let us consider a
few of the outstanding opportunities for progress trT'-ard
these ends.
Markets for a material are dependent pri.,m-.iily
upon its cost and the service that it will give, Industry
can cut costs in a number of ways. Integration of various
forest products industries such as lumber, dimension stock,
and pulp, at central points so that each species, size, and
quality of wood may be most efficiently handled and fabrica-
ted, and waste and handling reduced to a minimum, although
already partly under way, offers many opportunities for
reducing costs.

Instituting accurate cost keeping systems will show
up unprofitable operations and help in lowering production
costs. Ar an example, it has been convincingly established
through cost studies by the Forest Service in every producing
region that the smaller timber for a region is handled at a
loss in most lumber operations. In southern pine, the small
trees are often cut at a loss of approximately lO.00 per :t
which adds to the price at which the larger timber must be
sold to yield a profit.

Transportation charges, which always are a large item
in lumber ;-erchandizing, can be reduced by better drying of
lumber at the mill, cutting out defective material at the
mill as far as possible, avoiding excessive overlapping of
shipment ranges from different territories, and, in a large
range program, by growing forests nearer the centers of

Costs can also be cut by the adoption of modern
methods in construction and fabrication. Mass production
and factory assembly so as to avoid slow and costly handwork
are almost virgin fields in wood construction.

The matter of eliminating waste in logging,
milling, fabrication, and pulping offers tremendous
opportunities for reducing costs on account of the large
a..ount of material 7rhich is wasted under present methods.


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Improving the service given by wood products is one
of the best means of assuring a continuing market in competi-
tion with other materials. Sills decay, floors show wide
shrinkage cracks, doors warp, furniture comes apart at the
glue joints, siding discolors and blisters paint, packing
boxes open up in transit, and fires originate in unprotected
wood nerir chimneys. All of these undesirable happenings,
however, are not basically the fault of wood, but of the
manner in which it is used. Enough is known about preventing
decay, reducing shrinking and warping, making strong glue
joints, designing packing boxes, etc., to prevent many of
the unfortunate failures of wood in service. Much more needs
tc be known, however, if wood is to continue to compete
successfully with some of the newer materials in the con-
struction and fabricating fields.

Rule-of-thumb methods have carried developments
in these fields about as far as can be expected except for
occasional findings. Further progress on a large scale
must be looked for along technical lines. Technical
knowledge itself must widen and deepen or its application
in reducing costs, improving quality, and developing new
uses will reach a level beyond which further progress is
slow and intermittent. The continuous development of new
facts and principles through research is the only sound
basis for substantial progress.

Improved design of wooden structures so as to
economize on material without impairing their strength and
to permit of factory assembly and mass production, requires
greater refinement in our knowledge of the wood. The effect
of defects in different locations, of the orientation of
the annual rings, and of changing moisture content; the
holding power of nails, screws, and bolts; and the efficacy
of perhaps entirely new methods of fastening members
together need to be kno.n. This requires research in the
fields of timber mechanics, timber physics, wood technology,
and wood chemistry.

Improving the usefulness of lumber through better
grading and selection, making paint stick better to the hard
summerwood of softwoods, developing cheap methods of making
glue joints permanent, finding out cheaper and simpler ways
of making wood fire resistant, reducing shrinkage in wood,
preventing the raising of grain in finished softwood and
hardwood lumber, devising new methods for seasoning
refractory woods, which check, warp and collapse badly,
hardening the surface of softwoods so that they will better
resist wear and indentation, redesigning wooden structures
on a scientific basis so as to eliminate weak r.nd undesirable
ier.ures, and improving wood-working .chinery and methods,



are some of the many problems that need research in order
to increase the satisfaction that wood may give in service.

A big field for the increase in markets for
forest products is in the development of new products from
them. Although plywood has been kno-n for a long time, its
relatively recent increase in use has made it virtually a
new product for many purposes. More needs to be known about
its technical properties, such as behavior under stress,
shrinkage, and stability as affected by the thickness and
number of plies. BEuilt-up beams, columns, and laminated
arches, although also not new products, will probably see
much greater use in the future and need technical data for
their efficient development.

Probably the largest expansion in the market for
wood will be in fibrous and chem'nical products. The "synthetic
board"; molded products to be used in furniture, electrical
equipment, novelties, etc.; the derivatives of cellulose,
as nitrates, acetates, and perhaps many new products; the
compounds of lignin, about which relatively little is known;
and the extraction of the other minor but highly diversified
constituents of wood, open up a field whose possibilities
can be compassed only by a liberal imagination.

Lack of stability in prices is another source of
demoralization in markets for forest products. Lu'nber,
newsprint, and naval stores suffer alike from a fluctuating
market. The periods of high lumber prices have been at the
sacrifice of the good-will of the buying public, have brought
about the substitution of inferior material which has not
given satisfaction and have opened the way for competing
materials. Rapidly receding lumber prices, on the other
hand, act to retard buying.. The stabilization of prices
through controlled production, legislation, and other means
has been one of the chief concerns of the lumber and naval
stores industries during the past decade, but so far little
progress has been made.

Although sound principles for the economic use of
forest lands and stabilization of forest industries must
largely be applied by industry, the public is vitally
concerned both with their development and their successful
application. Aside from the loss of revenue from timber
lands that the public itself owns when they are not producing
to their ilaximum capacity, the public foots the bill for
private lands which are idle for lack of marketss in such
items as costs of governmental supervision, roads, tax
delinquency, fire hazard, long freight hauls of lumber
fro.a other regions or countries, more expensive substitute



materials, lack of water-shed protection, erosion and
silting of streams, and loss of wild life and recreational

Once it is realized that forest lands are a matter
of public concern, such matters as equitable taxation, tariffs
technically sound building codes, fair legislation for
adjusting production to requirements, and the expansion of
research in timber growing and the utilization of forest
products should find ready public support.

The public has lifelong familiarity with and
attachment to wood and rood products. The nation has a vast
program of forestry at stake in the trend of wood consump-
tion. The fiscal stability of local governments is bound
up with profitable use of the land. The weight of public
opinion vill be a mighty factor that may well be cultivated
in stabilizing forest production and safeguarding forest



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