plane shavings
A live cherry slab serves as the top of a floating top table with tapered legs.

Black Cherry Table with walnut detail.

Woodworking

Woodworking shapes heartwood with steel.  My name is Jonathan Lyons and I’m the owner of Heartwood and Steel LLC. My workshop reflects my desire to explore woodworking primarily with domestic hardwoods. These pages contain both my creative exploration and my personal growth in the craft

For a long time I’ve had an interest in the growing urban lumber movement. It seemed imperative, that I should be doing something for our environment and not just talking about it. So I created this business to make beautiful things from the trees that no one else wants.

According the the US Dept of Forestry, “In the United States over 200 million cubic yards of urban tree and landscape residue are generated every year. 1 Of this amount, 15 percent is classified as “unchipped logs.” To put this figure in perspective, consider that if these logs were sawn into boards, they theoretically would produce 3.8 billion board feet of lumber, or nearly 30 percent of the hardwood lumber produced annually in the United States.” (source)

In my mind, that kind of waste is staggering, especially when we consider the potential beauty of what can be done with the wood of urban trees. If you feel the same way, let me know if you have a tree that could be milled or if you want something made from urban and domestic trees.

Photo shows a block of wood and the chemical symbol for carbon.

Every tree banks carbon from the air we breathe. Roughly half the mass of dried wood is carbon converted from the air while trees exchange they carbon they use for oxygen we all breathe.

Clearly, the best environmental choice is to keep trees growing and saving carbon but trees have to come down for a number of reasons. Sometimes, valuable trees die of old age, just like people.

Heartwood and Steel is dedicated to the mission of saving trees that come down in our city and using them in a way that they continue to contribute beauty into our lives and sequester the carbon they hold for a very long time.

That’s why I collect trees cut trees to make my own lumber and build things that will last as long as you own them and they bring joy into your life. By investing in real wood products from Heartwood and Steel, you are helping to save the planet and helping to create an heirloom that others will continue to enjoy for its own beauty and because it’s naturally a good choice for our planet.

Saving trees for a cause

Making beautiful things

When I began woodworking, I felt like everything else in my life was competing for my attention. Like others, I found more time and energy for woodworking during the pandemic. Urban lumber caught my attention when I was still new to craft but my initial pursuit seldom went further than idle curiosity and sawing an interesting log if it came my way. 

Since I first asked about harvesting domestic and even local wood, urban lumber and urban wood became a dynamic movement among woodworkers who want to pursue the craft while also making considerable contributions towards reducing waste and preserving forests.

The pandemic presented me with new opportunities to explore beyond just reading about landscape trees and slicing little fallen trees here and there. Starting in 2020 I milled 3 trees that I air dried, supplying me with wood that I still use. I learned many skills through trial and error and the results keep getting better. 

In 2023, I joined the Urban Wood Network and I look forward to learning more and making my own contributions towards saving our planet.

Urban Wood Network
Urban Wood Network
A 2 piece collapsible phone stand.
Water oak phone stand
Cherry logs being cut for boards.
Here’s the first cherry logs I cut.
Cherry logs in sawdust.
Cherry logs in sawdust

This is a resource we can’t allow to treat as waste. US Forestry provides some insight about the reasons behind the availability of urban wood,

The staggering number of tree removals in cities and towns across the
country becomes necessary for a host of reasons. Storm blowdowns,
natural mortality, severe insect and disease damage, construction activities,
and many other circumstances can change an urban tree from an asset
into a liability. Municipalities are faced not only with the volume of tree
removals but with the associated financial costs as well.

Heartwood and Steel


Heartwood and Steel logo on a tablesaw pusher.