Virginia Urban Wood Group
News & Updates

September 29, 2023 | Issue-20


 The title of this article is not a mistake, 2024 is right around the corner. September has vanished like a cloud of pollen on a windy day, October will pass in similar rapid fashion, and then we will find ourselves immersed in the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. Hopefully you have already been thinking about what 2024 might bring in terms of business opportunities and also our urban forest resources that we both enjoy and utilize.

Let's talk trees first - without question 2024 has been a tough year on trees with huge swaths of Virginia experiencing severe drought conditions. These trees may have outwardly appeared to survive these dry conditions, but do not be surprised if 2024 does not bring increased levels of tree mortality and crown dieback. There will probably also be enhanced mortality among the young trees that were just planted earlier this year.

Conversely, invasive plant species continued to thrive during these dry times. One of their many successful strategies for competing with our native plants is their ability to adopt to harsh growing conditions and thrive. Be it shallow, acidic soils or long periods of drought, invasive plant species seem to remain green and happy!

These looming scenarios are reasons for concern about our urban natural resources. The people who own these resources, be they a municipalities, corporations or individual homeowners will need help recovering from the ravages of the drought and also taking steps forward to improve the natural world around them. There will be dead trees in need of removal, trees with crown mortality needing to be pruned, more invasive species to manage than ever before, a significant number of trees that will need to be replanted, and a continued strong supply of urban wood to be made into products such as flooring, tables, cabinets and fencing.

Try to step-away from the flurry of end of the year activities and enjoy the beautiful fall season which brings with it beautiful fall foliage, outdoor evening fires in fire ring, great hiking weather and yes.....pumpkin everything! Wishing everyone a wonderful autumn season and welcome to the twentieth edition of the Virginia Urban Wood Group's newsletter!

Joe Lehnen

VA Dept of Forestry

Urban Wood Program Coordinator

Upcoming Events


Natural Areas Management Services: Expanding Business Opportunities for Green Industry Professionals

Webinar Series

Three consecutive Tuesday evenings

October 3-10-17, 2023

Sponsored by:

The Woods in Your

Backyard Partnership

Join this webinar series and learn about expanding Green Industry services to your clientele, and earn a variety of recert credits.

Registration Deadline


October 2nd!

Click here for more

details & registration

Coming in 2024:

The East Coast Logging &

Equipment Expo!

April 12-13, 2024

New Location:

Meadow Event Park

Doswell, VA

More details in future VA Urban Wood Newsletter issues!

Recently Updated!

VA Urban & Small Woodlot

Forestry Business Directory

We are pleased to announce a brand new edition of the service providers directory! This newest version offers an improved search tool for users to find your business, an easier portal for new businesses wishing to list in the directory and more attractive graphics which enhances the user experience.

The service providers directory includes a wide variety of businesses including portable sawmillers, crafters, forestry mulchers, small parcel timber harvesters & resource managers, furniture builders and many more.

Know of a company that should be a part of this ever-growing family? Sign-up is easy and takes only a few minutes of time >>

Directory Link >> 

Additional Information

News from:

The North Carolina

Urban Wood Group

NC Urban Wood Group

The North Carolina Urban Wood newsletter is available via the website

Virginia Urban Wood Group News

UVA Creates a 3-credit Urban Wood Course!

The University of Virginia continued their leadership role in the world of campus wood programs by adding a three credit hour urban wood focused course to the Fall-2023 curriculum!

Sponsored by the UVA School Of Architecture, SARC-5500, Design-Mill-Build-Reflect, will provide students the opportunity to design a timber-frame structure, gain hands-on experience in sawmilling, timber-frame construction, and finally analyze the project, recommending any process or construction improvements. All of the lumber used by the class are from trees that were salvaged from removals on the UVA Grounds. 

For more information about the course contact instructor Andrew Spears - – who also helped to launch the UVA Sawmilling group >>

UVA Sawmilling

Worth the Click!

Holz Hausen


 Living in the Shenandoah Valley which was originally settled by German immigrants, the idea of creating a Holz Hausen is truly intriguing!

A Holz Hausen (German for "round house") is actually a circular woodpile. The holz hausen is started with carefully stacked wood on the exterior, loosely filled with wood blocks, and topped with a circular roof of split wood.

A common size for a holz hausen is about 8 foot diameter. Larger ones can be created but it may become difficult to reach the inside of the pile. Conversely, it becomes more difficult to stack the wood properly with smaller diameter holz hausens.

These circular structures are very efficient at drying wood. The shape of the woodpile allows for natural convective currents to flow through the woodpile and exit at the top. The covering includes four vents to facilitate the natural drying process while the cover is in place.

Check out the following links for more details about constructing one of these very cool looking firewood drying structures:

Holz Hausen video

Building a Holz Hausen

Holz Hausen Wood Stacking

Photo credit: Lumberjacks Inc.

The Virginia Urban Wood Group is an affiliate member of the Urban Wood Network.

Connect with the Urban Wood Network on Facebook or Instagram: @urbanwoodnetwork

Have something to share? Use #UWN #urbanwood #urbanwoodnetwork #urbanwoodmovement to connect with us and to share your posts with us. 

Join the ever-growing Urban Wood Network - UWN Membership

Additional info >>

Urban Wood Network

Feature Stories


"Slabering" is the art & science of creating wood slabs from logs. Slabs are usually thicker cuts of wood that maintain the outer shape and character of the log being slabbed. The bark is usually kept on the slabs, only to be removed at a later date before the finishing process begins. Slabs are most often used for table tops of varying lengths due to their unique exterior shapes and wood grain character. There can also be variations in the appearance of the slabs by sawing 2-3 of the edges into a straight, linear surface.

Slabs are a quick, easy way to mill a quantity of logs since you do not have to create cants from the logs and then mill these cants into dimension lumber - all of which takes time and money. The type of sawmill used for slabbing depends on the diameter of the logs. Most "standard" mills can process a log that is 24-26 inches in diameter. Larger diameter logs will require a "wide" version of a regular sawmill, or the use of a slabbing mill which are nor made by various manufacturers. Most slabbing mills are unique in that they move on an easily transportable frame which is set-up over the log to be sawed. This reduces the need to move and lift these larger, very heavy logs onto a sawmill carriage.

We have assembled three log slabbing experts who will briefly share their knowledge of milling, drying and then finishing slab wood. Each of these business owners comes with years of experience and would be more than willing to answer any questions about slabbing a log to creating a finished product. Their contact info can be found on their websites, happy reading!

Milling for Slabs

Gochenour Sawmilling Co.

Maurertown, VA

Larry Gochenour has become known far and wide for his slab-making abilities. Recently he traveled almost three hours for two days of solid slabbing with his easily transportable Lucas Mill. Slabbing mills are easy to transport in the back of a pick-up truck and can be quickly set-up over any large log in just about any location.

Larry launches this slabbing wood feature story by providing four great tips for successfully producing slab lumber:

  • Slabbing mills are designed for logs of large diameters and lengths than are the conventional sawmills. As Larry noted "the bigger the diameter the better and try to slab logs that are 10-12 feet long - remember, you can always cut them in half if you need a shorter slab"
  • To achieve the most quality slabs from a log, try to make sure that the pith (center of the log) is all contained in one slab
  • Slabs should be a minimum of 3" (12/4) thick to allow the wood artisan to correct any issues that arise during the drying process
  • Presently consumers are preferring walnut, oak and maple slabs

For more information about successful slab milling, contact Larry Gochenour via the following link:

Gochenour Sawmill Company

Maurertown, VA


Drying Slab Wood

Rocktown Urban Wood

Harrisonburg, VA  

Ned Gearing and Rhett Miles of Rocktown Urban Wood have learned many lessons over the years about drying thicker wooden slab wood. First and foremost is that you cannot hurry the process. Drying thicker slabs takes time and you have to adjust production schedules to compensate for that time factor. This of course means that if you are just starting in the slab sales or finishing business, you have to allow yourself the time to build an inventory of properly dried slabs.

Following are three great suggestions from the Rocktown crew for successfully drying thicker slab wood:

  • First and foremost is the initial stacking & quickly getting the slabs stickered on an elevated level surface. The underside needs to be away from the moist ground and the substrate needs to be level and should allow for good airflow.

  • Second is the use of sufficient evenly distributed weight on top of the stacks to prevent the slabs from warping. We stack sawn logs as high as possible while taking into consideration tipping concerns and then place concrete weights on the top unit. We estimate those to provide around 60-100Lbs per sq ft. to the top layer and then every additional layer adds weight to the next below. If you saw similar sized logs in the same dimensions you can combine the logs' footprint and make taller stacks more safely.  

  • Third is a somewhat consistent, slow air dry period where the stacks are allowed to breathe with space around them but well shaded and kept out of the rain and weather. Depending on the species, it may require slower airflow for a longer period of time (Oak) or for others it may require evacuating moisture more quickly to prevent staining and bug infiltration (Maple).  

For more information about successful slab drying, contact Ned Gearing via the following link: >>

Rocktown Urban Wood

Harrisonburg, VA


Finishing Slab Wood

Genuine Timbercraft

Montpelier, VA  

At Genuine Timberkraft in Montpelier, it all starts with a log and ends with a beautiful slab table or other urban wood product. Dylan Greenquist offers a multi-layered business model that includes sawmilling, wood kiln drying, lumber sales and also custom-made finished products. One of his specialties are larger slab tables that find their way into homes and businesses across Virginia and beyond!

Needless to say that it's all about that top finish when viewing a large slab table! Being able to highlight the beauty of the wood grain with a quality finishing treatment will bring forth the "Ooo's and Ahh's" of anyone seeing the table for the first time. Dylan offers three tips to creating a beautiful slab table:

  • Our first step in finishing a slab is surfacing it flat once it has been kiln dried. From there, we install steel channel into the bottom of the slab to hold it flat and provide long-lasting stability.

  • We start our sanding process with 50-80 grit sandpaper and work up to 150 or 220 grit paper, depending on the finish being used. It is important not to skip any grits in order to get a surface free of "swirl marks."

  • We most often use Rubio Monocoat for our residential finishes and Polarion for commercial finishes. Rubio calls for sanding up to 150 grit and for Polarion we sand to 220. We follow the directions and specs provided by the manufacturer to get the best results for both finishes.

Still have questions about successful slab finishing? Contact Dylan Greenquist via the following link: >>

Genuine Timbercraft

Montpelier, VA


Many thanks to Trees Virginia (Virginia's Urban Forest Council) for hosting this newsletter and allowing access to their Constant Contact platform!

Check out their brand new

website >>>


The Virginia Urban Wood Program is supported by the Virginia Department of Forestry with grants from the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Region.

The Marketing Corner

Marketing with Humor

  Many of the Super Bowl commercials are renowned for the humor they use in product marketing. Snickers has featured the iconic Betty White, FedEx did a take-off of Tom Hanks' Castaway movie, and in 2022, Lay's featured the "Golden Memories" commercial. These marketing marvels quickly became engrained in our minds and it happened in 60 seconds or less! After all, in 2023, the average cost of a 30-second Super Bowl commercial was a cool $7 million!

Thankfully, it does not cost our service providers seven million dollars for a video commercial about their business! You can create decent quality commercials with your cell phone and post them for free! As we mentioned before, local businesses can have very effective marketing commercials that reach thousands of potential customers via Instagram, X, or Facebook.

But when or how do you use humor in advertising? Some people are just naturally funny and they have great timing in delivering their humorous messages. Other people, well not so much. All this said there is a balance when using humor in advertising, for the sake of your business don't be goofy. It's a fine line, but being "goofy" with over-the-top, or too much humor can be a turn-off for potential and present customers. Following are five brief but simple rules when using humor in advertising:

  • Make certain the humor you are using is not offensive to any person or group
  • Using small doses of humor in advertising is better than doing a "comedy act" for the entire commercial
  • Be true to your brand and your messaging goals - don't let too much humor blur the messages
  • Allow other people (not your relatives) to view your humorous advertising video and seek their honest opinions before posting it

As you will notice in the t-shirt pictured below, simple, subtle humor was used to relay a safety message to people visiting National Parks with bison. The reason of course is there are those folks who think the bison are "domesticated" and try taking selfies with these very large, wild animals. Sometimes the result of this behavior is very unfortunate for the person trying to hug this furry beast just for a photo op.

The message on the shirt is a great example of the effective use of both humor and images in order to effect positive change in visitor behavior and allow the "fluffy cows" to peaceably exist amongst the throngs of humans that come to see them in their native habitats.

Virginia Urban Wood Group

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