When less wood is more

Profile Lumber and Habitat for Humanity to begin testing I-Wood.

by Alice Martinez


he “bones” of almost all houses are the same: wood studs, beams, rafters, etc., and this isn't likely to change any time soon. However, what if there was an effective way to use less wood, but still retain all the familiar and beneficial characteristics? A technology – Profile Lumber – promises to do just that.

    Profile LumberTM is based on the premise that removing fiber from certain faces of conventional lumber enhances its characteristics as a building material and provides 30% additional fiber for use in such products as papermaking and particleboard. Currently, this material is left unused in the framework of houses.

    The method used is simply to cut a half-inch groove in conventional lumber. The result is Profile Lumber, which replaces conventional lumber typically used to build homes and other structures.

    There are many potential benefits to Profile Lumber. It is easier to build with: the grooves mean lining up joints is almost automatic. The grooves also make each piece of lumber lighter and easier to handle. A sawmill producing Profile Lumber could reduce costs and increase profits through better use of small-diameter logs and better use of short material. This produces 30% more usable lumber from smaller logs than conventional milling methods, and can significantly reduce the annual forest cut.

New habitats for humanity


    Working with Habitat for Humanity, Profile Lumber is starting a pilot program to train volunteers to build with this unique building material. The goal is twofold:

  • To demonstrate how easy it is for nonprofessionals and volunteers to learn to build using Profile Lumber
  • To create a cadre of volunteers who, after a few days of training, can both build houses in Mexico and train local groups to build their own homes

    The training will begin with Habitat volunteers constructing small structures like play houses, sheds, cabanas and greenhouse around the county. Profile Lumber is working with Habitat's Construction House Leaders and volunteer builders to develop procedures for volunteers building with I-Wood, and these will be tested on-the-ground as the volunteers assemble the structures.

    After the training, a core group of volunteers will begin building homes in Mexico. Integral to the building in Mexico will be training Mexican volunteers in an “each one teach one” style. So the methods of building with I-Wood are easily spread.

    If you are interested in learning to work with this exciting new material, contact Kim at Habitat for Humanity, 619-283-4663, or Chris Scott at 858-454-8785. More information on Profile Lumber at www.profilelumber.com.

Win an I-Wood playhouse!

    An I-Wood playhouse will be on display at EarthFair 2006 in Balboa Park on April 23, adjacent to the Children's Activity Area. Stop by and see this new technology for yourself. A drawing will be held and the winner will get to take the playhouse home, so be sure to enter!

    Profile Lumber significantly reduces the cost of housing, making homes available to more people. With I-Wood, people can actually build their own homes, starting small and expanding in size as needed. You don't have to start with a $150,000 mortgage on your shoulders; try $25,000.