Trivia

Subject:
You got it, see below (longish)
Response To:
I'm Puzzled??? ()

Gary Smyth
>Of course, Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) not Noble Fir. I zigged when I meant to zag. I mis-read notes (owing to my error don't look for a WoodCentral trivia question on the Noble fir anytime soon). I knew the (fir) latin name didn't look right when I wrote it but I let it through without checking. As to skined alive, I choose to think of it more as a skin graft from one place to another.

In the American Northwest the native Kwakiutl tribe of Washington and Canada’s Vancouver Island take planks from a tree without killing it. They call it begging wood. On a single side of a straight grained tree trunk (trees there are five feet or more in diameter—and there are a lot of trees) they make a notch about 3 feet above ground, four to six inches in, then further up (mostly about 20 feet, but whatever they need) another notch. As the top notch is widened, yew wood wedges are pounded into the gap and down the sides. When that is done a lever is worked from the upper split to the bottom, freeing a plank without killing the tree. By this method, cedar plank dwellings were/are built. The planks were split and adzed to proper thickness of about 3” for floors and 1 inch for dwelling sides and were kept as wide as possible 20-36” being a good width. Some beams could be fashioned this way but most were whole logs as much as fifty feet long and two feet in diameter (some of them fir). Tree recovery for planks taken in this fashion was immediate, and to the best of my information, a different portion of the tree could be used for he same purpose in ten years and the original scar grown over in fifty. The begging was religious in that it respected and honored the tree and did not kill it. Begging wood was also political in that it demonstrated that the tribe intended to be there forever and it was wisest not to destroy for future generations what was there and important to the way they lived; and environmental in that it took care of their needs, but didn’t destroy the area--the condition of the forest was unchanged. In addition to planks, the bark was used for tanning and herbal remedies and the stringy inner bark was used for baskets and lashings.

Much of the above information was from Native American Architecture, Peter Nabokov and Robert Easton, 1989 Oxford Press, pp 244-257

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