Article by Tom Worthley

bench tag

Photo: Defining Studios

Sometime early in 2016 a sugar maple tree died somewhere on campus and was removed by the UConn arborist crew. Knowing that our UConn student Forest Crew runs a portable bandsaw mill on occasion, arborist John Kehoe arranged to have some of the larger logs from the tree dropped off at the wood yard, thinking they might be of interest.

The logs remained there on the ground throughout the summer while the Forest Crew worked on other projects.

In October of 2016, for the annual Cornucopia fest, the Forest Crew set up their portable band saw mill on the corner of the quad as part the Forestry exhibit and to conduct a sawmilling demonstration. Needing logs for the demonstration, Professor Worthley suggested that the crew, “Bring over a couple of those old maple logs that have been laying around.”

Now, some sawyers will tell you that making the first cut into a sawlog can be like opening a gift package – sometimes you find something special – and such was the case here. The maple lumber from this not-so-special log exhibited some very interesting figure and color and a bit of “spalting” (a black meandering line that can be seen in spots), all characteristics that are prized and valued by woodworkers. The lumber was stored away in the shed to wait for some special purpose to present itself (or, perhaps, for some wealthy wood-working customer to come along).

Dean with chair

Photo: Defining Studios

When Dean Weidemann announced his retirement and with that announcement came the topic of a recognition gift, the question arose as to whether something could be made from “UConn wood”, and lo and behold, a special purpose presented itself. So pieces of the Cornucopia-fest maple were loaded onto the old Ford pickup and delivered to the artisans and craftsmen at City Bench, in Higganum. There they were kiln-dried, planed, turned, book-matched and assembled into the bench we are proud to present today.

The “Product of UConn Forest” and “Connecticut Grown” brands provide recognition that raw materials in this item were locally grown and produced following sustainable forest management practices.