Thursday, January 29, 2009

Woodworking event!

Dear Woodworking Friends,

In preparation for our Annual Open House, October 2009, we would like to tell you about a new format we will be having for our woodworking event. This year, our woodworking event will be a combined silent auction in which woodworking pieces are submitted to our event, and each piece is auctioned off to individual bidders through a silent bidding process. The proceeds will be split between you, the woodworker, and The Ronald McDonald House of Albany. Wightman Specialty Woods will not keep any of the proceeds from the auction. The Ronald McDonald House is a wonderful charity that provides comfort and care to children and familes in need during difficult times.

All pieces must be made of wood except for joinery (hinges, etc) or handles. We will accept pieces of furniture, carvings, crafts, and miscellaneous woodworking pieces.

To learn more about this event please contact Naomi at 607.286.9201,

Happy Woodworking!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Winter Project: Radiant heating systems and Hardwood Floors

Radiant floor heating systems are becoming increasingly popular throughout the United States today. Radiant heating systems distribute heat "omni-directionally", or in all directions, offering greater energy efficiency than conventional forced air heating systems in which warm air naturally rises, resulting in warm ceilings but cold floors.

Installing a hardwood floor over radiant heat is not much different from laying a typical hardwood floor, as long as you understand radiant heat, how it can impact wood flooring, what precautions to take, and what type of wood flooring to use.

Understanding radiant heat: Radiant floor heating systems consist of tubing installed under the finished floor that is responsible for delivering heat through the floor and into the home.
Impact on wood flooring and precautions to take: One of the most important factors in a successful wood flooring installation over radiant heat is a dry slab and a dry subfloor. This is important in any wood floor installation, but particularly over radiant heat systems, because once the radiant heat is turned on, any excess moisture in either the concrete slab or subfloor will be directly transferred to the wood flooring. Any moisture entering a wood floor in this manner will cause severe problems to the floor (swelling, buckling). To ensure that all moisture is removed prior to the wood flooring installation, the radiant heating system should be turned on and run for an extended period of time (the National Wood Flooring Association recommends 5-6 days) to remove any residual moisture.

Choosing wood flooring: According to the National Wood Flooring Association, wood floors best suited for installation over radiant heat include engineered wood floors, solid woods that naturally have good dimensional stability, and solid wood floors that are no more than 4" in finished width.

Now that you are ready to install your radiant heating, here are a few ways to set up the system:

Direct Nail to Subfloor over Floor Joists:

A popular set-up in which radiant tubes are strapped onto a plywood subfloor laid over the floor joists. Wood flooring is then nailed to the plywood subfloor.
Note that a moisture barrier should always be placed over the subfloor to which the wood flooring is nailed. A good choice is #15 felt paper.

Direct Nail to Subfloor over Sleepers:

An approach used when you do not have access under the existing subfloor or when the underside of the floor cannot be used. Here the radiant tubes and sleepers are laid on top of the existing subfloor, and a second subfloor is added. Wood flooring is nailed to this second subfloor.

Solid T&G Floor Direct Nail to Sleepers:

This set-up involves laying sleepers over the subfloor and radiant tubes between the sleepers. A vapor barrier is installed over the sleepers and wood flooring is nailed directly to the sleepers. Some individuals also choose to put a gypsum or concrete mix around the radiant tubing, which provides fire resistance and sound dampening.

Single or Double Layer of Plywood on Sleepers:

Similar to the approach above, except a layer of plywood (or even 2 layers) is applied over the sleepers. The wood flooring is then nailed to the plywood.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Domestic Hardwoods and Softwoods

Whether you are planning to install a hardwood floor, replace the siding on your home, or begin your first craft project, at Wightman Specialty Woods our goal is to be a resource to help you select the best possible wood materials for the job.
Some of the most popular wood species come from right in our backyards here in the northeastern United States! Below we offer you some general information and best uses for these domestic hardwoods and softwoods.
Domestic Hardwoods

Red Oak

With its attractive open grain pattern and light brown/red hue, Red Oak has long been one of the most popular northeastern hardwoods. Known for its hardness and durability, Red Oak stains and finishes well and is a classic choice for flooring, furniture, cabinetry, and interior finishes including wainscot, mouldings and paneling.

Hard Maple

Hard Maple is the 'hardest' of the northeastern hardwoods (as measured by the Janka hardness test). With its closed, straight grain pattern, it is slightly more difficult to machine than other northeastern hardwoods. Maple is not very porous and does not accept stains well, however, it finishes quite nicely with polyurethanes. Hard Maple has excellent shock resistance making it the wood of choice for gymnasium floors. Hard Maple is also ideal for furniture, cabinets, and tabletops.

Cherry (American)

Not to be confused with Brazilian Cherry, which has a much higher hardness level, American Cherry is one of the softer northeastern hardwood species. Cherry has a rich reddish color that will darken over time and with exposure to sunlight. Cherry "sapwood" (which comes from the exterior portion of the tree) is creamy white in color. Cherry machines easily and finishes beautifully making it ideal for furniture, cabinetry, mouldings, flooring, turning, carving, and musical instruments.


Though considered a hardwood, Basswood is quite a light, soft wood. This softness along with its uniform texture and indistinct grain pattern make it the premier wood for carving. Basswood is also ideal for painted mouldings, as it machines well, is easy to work with hand tools, and readily accepts paint.

White Ash

With a similar open grain pattern to Red Oak, the coloring of White Ash has more variation, ranging from light white to streaks of grey and light brown. Ash machines well, is good in nailing, screwing and gluing and accepts stains very well. White Ash has a relatively high hardness level, which makes it ideal for furniture, flooring, and the wood specie of choice for baseball bats.

Domestic Softwoods

Eastern White Pine

A popular softwood in the northeast, Eastern white pine may be used in a wide variety of projects from simple shelving to intricate furniture pieces. Pine is easily workable with power and hand tools, and though it does not stain well (will be blotchy), Pine accepts paints very well. Eastern white pine often contains knots, which are appealing to those hoping to achieve a "rustic" look.


Though this softwood specie is indigenous to the southeastern United States, its weather resistant properties make it a natural fit for outdoor applications here in the northeast. Natural oils within Cypress make it resistant to decay, insect attack and seasonal climate changes. Cypress is easily workable and readily accepts finishes. Though it is an ideal solution for outdoor decks, pergolas and stairways, it can be equally beautiful indoors as flooring, wall and ceiling coverings.