November 14, 2015 my emergency pager woke me at 2am for a fire in the village of Spring Green.
This is my dash cam image as I pulled up, just as the first water was being sprayed from the Engines. (lower left is the initial water attack from our Engine 2)
I grabbed another hose from Engine 2 and went to work on this side of the fire - too late to save anything, but we put out the fire to find the cause.
I have never been so glad to have the young firefighters from Plain and Lone Rock and Arena and Richland Center arrive and ask me if they could help. Exhausted, I handed them the nozzle and stood back.
Mark and Wynn Dedrick, owners of the nearby Shed Restaurant came up to me with hot chocolate and sandwiches - that was so welcome at 3 am. Their front door security camera was replayed later to show us the origin and progression of the fire through the whole event, revealing the story as it happened.
Our community came together that night to do what we could.
The fire had burned unnoticed for about one hour, Firefighters from five departments did what we could, but we were not able to save the Cornerstone Church building.
One large Ash Tree stood in front of the Church
Two large Honey Locust trees stood beside the old white church on the S side.
Pastor Derek Miller and his congregation knew they had to rebuild and immediately began planning.
Pastor Derek hired a local logging crew to remove the three large trees to make room for the new building.
This Ash tree was known to be hollow at the bottom and the top - and was a major potential hazard.
Derek had performed the wedding ceremony for one of the young men on the crew a year ago, and knew them all well.
The crew gathered in prayer and then began an incredible process to use the wood in these trees to help rebuild the church.
A powerful log skidder was used to pull the trees into the now empty lot.
Everyone was discouraged when we saw how rotten the butt log was - along with the upper logs, not to mention the family of squirrels living high in the tree.
The first cut revealed sound wood and we proceeded with cautious faith. Three nine foot long logs were salvaged from the Ash tree.
The crew hooked their cable high in the Honey Locust tree to pull it away from the power lines.
The two Locust trees must have been planted to replace dying Elms and were about 45 years old, though the Ash was much older.
160 years old is my estimate based on measuring the growth rings in the upper logs - about the age of the old white church building.
This Ash tree was likely planted when they built the church when Spring Green was still a native prairie.
The loggers gladly delivered the sound logs to Timbergreen Farm. The boss told me,
"We were just planning to haul them to the dump."
Here is the trimmed butt log of the Ash tree on our WoodMizer sawmill. The rott cleared up about 3 feet off of the ground.
The third log of the tree included a long crotch with amazing grain - the prize of this project.
Trees from streets and yards often contain large amounts of crotch wood that can be featured in their final use. Industry and firewood cutters avoid this wood due to the gnarly grain patterns that are difficult to work with. We treasure this wood and go for the Gold Medal Use - Unique and Incredible - The Best!
Our Solar Cycle Kilns dry this wood with no problems, and we Know how to work this amazing wood. Just Waste to everyone else.
One large bolt and cable were surgically removed from the second log, to sawmill as many boards as possible from this tree.
The one hour Matt and I spent to work around this embedded metal, saved enough lumber to be very important later.
We sawed about 1,000 board feet of lumber from the One Ash Tree. Here the wood is air drying in our Solar Cycle Lumber Kiln.
The two Honey Locust logs were too large and heavy for our loader and sawmill.
We used our Alaskan Chainsaw sawmill to cut off one third of each log so we could process them.
Jack saws and stacks quartersawn planks from the top third of the log, and will quartersaw the main section also.
All of the boards were dried using free renewable power in our Timbergreen Farm Solar Cycle Lumber Kilns
Here is the inside wall of the new building on October 18, 2016. Framed with wood from Canada - the cheapest possible stuff.
When the lumber was dry and the new church building was nearing completion, we ripped the wide boards down to the needed dimensions.
Tongue and Groove - V-groove paneling was produced from the Ash with one pass through our 4 head Logosol Molder
The quartersawn Honey Locust planks were milled into baseboard for the carpeted rooms of the church.
Finally, the paneling and baseboards were sanded, ready for finishing.
The boards were delivered to Jim Riesinger's wood heated shop where the church members did the sealing and varnishing with water based polyurethane finish.
After the paneling was sealed, I fine sanded every board from this One Ash Tree in just a few hours - a truly amazing experience for any woodworker.
Using all of the wood from One Ash Tree for this One Wall Project gives a perspective on trees and lumber and wood and product that very few people ever experience.
Though anyone else could easily do this in their locale, too. Just Do It. (Go For It - Use Your Own Good Local Wood In Your Community!)
Watching the wood grain come alive with the finish is my favorite part of woodworking.
1,000 square feet of wood quickly filled up Jim's 1,600 square foot workshop.
Mark (left) organized over a dozen church members to install the wood paneling in the new building.
Members of the congregation installed these boards on one Saturday - great start, but no one knew how we would finish this up at the peak.
Here is the last of the volunteer crew to finish up all the high areas - about 10 pm Sunday evening.
Mark and Derek installed the highest boards to complete a weekend of work.
All of this work was done on faith - One Board At A Time
My inner fear was - do we have enough wood to cover this wall?
The Pile of Boards kept supplying one board after another until the wall was completed!
This is the wood from the One Ash Tree. The wall is the same height as the usable logs of the tree. (33 feet to the peak - 26 feet wide)
We sawmilled about 1,000 board feet of lumber to produce about 800 square feet of finished wood surface from this One Ash Tree.
The best quartersawn Honey Locust boards were used to make a frame for the cross.
Paul Kardatzke is the architect for the building and created this design. He made it just the right size to use all the boards from this One Ash Tree.
Paul's spacing of the bracing timbers above the cross allowed the lift to reach the ceiling, with one inch of clearance.
The Locust baseboard was installed to finish off the carpeted rooms. More of the locust lumber was installed as 6 massive bookshelves in Pastor Derek's office.
The congregation was able to Celebrate Christmas in their new home.
Nathan used our lasers to make another unique item using the wood from the Ash Tree.
Walnut letters were Inlased into a board from the One Ash Tree with Derek's favorite bible verse.
"You Shall Love The Lord Your God With All Your Heart"
All of the work on this One Ash Tree was done in Spring Green, by local folks. Two dozen people had a hand in this project. Most of the work was volunteered to get the Cornerstone Church into a higher orbit than ever before.
As a business owner, If I were to build this wall as a custom order - the total value kept in our community would be about $20,000 for the One Ash Tree everyone thought was just a rotten hazard.
Derek and my next door neighbor Ethan share at the Open House.
Pastor Derek wrote "The result is just beautiful! It means so much to us to have the wood from that tree gracing our new building, where it will be appreciated by many people for generations to come!"
"Your contribution to this building has made an immense difference. Using local wood is the crowning jewel of our new building! Had these wood features not been added, we would still have had a wonderful building, but this really takes it over the top!"
Mark wrote also, "Thanks again Jim! You were an amazing guide in this project journey. And I love the design that Paul drew, and you helped us execute. All the radiant lines of the boards point back to the center of the cross, reminding us that everything points back to Jesus. Everything. The One who demonstrated ultimate love, laying down His life for ours. Kinda like you said, On display for the glory of God!
Thanks again." Mark
All for the Glory of God