A brighter future at South Shore Millwork!

Expanding our efforts in Living Green

Our third expansion project, as previously mentioned in our other two blog posts this week, is our solar project! At South Shore Millwork, we are really excited to be gaining greater energy independence through the world’s cleanest energy – Solar!

We have selected Borrego Solar to manage the installation of a solar array on top of our new 47,000 square foot millwork shop, and a solar array field on the grounds in the rear.

The solar arrays will produce 880kW of electricity annually for the next 30 plus years. There will be 2,242 of ground mounted panels and 646 roof mounted panels that will produce enough electrical energy to power our 80,000 square feet state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, office equipment and lighting.

Other ways we are Living Green

1. Our wood dust is collected by our state-of-the-art dust collection system into trailers that are hauled away each month by a New England-based wood pellet manufacturer. The wood dust is then re-purposed in the highest quality residential and commercial wood pellet grade fuel. The pellets, made from sustainably produced biomass, play a major role in reducing demand for fossil fuels. This renewable resource plays a significant contribution to meeting regional energy demands.

2. Our solid and scrap wood waste is collected in roll-off containers and hauled to a regional wood waste recycler. The solid and scrap wood is then ground into organic wood-based products such as landscaping mulch, soil blends and safety playground surfacing products.

3. We also recycle our finish stain and cleaning solvents in house. We employ a technology allowing us to minimize the waste created by our finish stains and cleaning solvents by 90%. Prior to purchasing this technology, our used stains and solvents were liquid waste that had to be responsibly disposed of through a third-party vendor. Now this liquid waste is recycled, and the liquids such as stains and paint thinners are cleaned, distilled, reclaimed, and used over and over with virtually no loss of effectiveness. The investment in this technology has created a cost savings to the company while minimizing disposable waste to near nothing.

We will continue to provide regular updates on the solar project, so please check back often.

If you would like to discuss a residential millwork or commercial millwork project, give Wayne a call at 781.738.3012 or  email him at wbarthe@southshoremillwork.com.


What’s new in luxury home wine cellars?

“It’s an exciting trend seeing wine cellars moving up from the basement level, being incorporated in many luxury home’s living spaces.” Jeff Burton, President, South Shore Millwork

In the not too distant past, the wine cellar primarily resided in the homeowner’s basement. This was to protect one’s investment by providing proper temperature control and safety. Today, wine cellars, or wine rooms, are being located within the home’s main living space, where consumers and collectors are enjoying their accessibility and eye-catching beauty.

Talented, high-end architectural millworkers will blend the look of the wine room with the rest of the home’s décor, including features such as curved and radius woodwork, coffered ceilings, hand-carved tasting tables, and stunning lattice work. These rooms are elegant works of art that become the focal point of your client’s living space.

What is the best wood species to use in your client’s high-end wine room? Mahogany.  Mahogany is the most durable; it will not warp or swell and this is especially important if you are using a climate-controlled system. Mahogany is also a great choice because it can be stained and lacquered to match the rest of your client’s home décor.  But, one important thing to keep in mind, chemicals in stain and paint can travel through corks and spoil the flavor of wine, so be sure to use a water-based stain!

Give us a call today! We love to talk with architects, interior designers, and general contractors about how we may help with their client’s high-end architectural millwork projects.

Movement in Woodwork – You Can’t Stop It!

Most finish carpenters and homeowners are aware that seasonal changes in humidity and temperature cause windows, doors, trim, and flooring to shrink in the winter and expand in the summer but few realize how closely movement of woodwork is tied to moisture.  Wood is a hydroscopic material, and will shrink or expand based on relative humidity; expanding when it takes on moisture, shrinking when it loses moisture.  The chart below shows how drastically relative humidity can change the moisture content in wood.architectural woodwork, architectural millwork, Boston, MA, New England

In addition, did you know that if wet and dry pieces of wood are placed together in the same area, they will absorb or lose moisture until all pieces have the same final moisture content?  This is called Equilibrium Moisture Content or EMC.  The chart below shows the moisture content of wood based on relative humidity and temperature.

architectural woodwork, architectural millwork, Boston, MA, New England

At any rate, wood moves and while you can’t stop it, you can avoid potential problems.  Even the best of workmanship cannot prevent moisture-related defects and unfortunately, most moisture defects are irreversible.  Moisture defects include surface checks, cracking, bowing, twisting, and warping.

So how can you avoid moisture problems in woodwork?

Some tips taken from ThisIsCarpentry.com and Lingomat’s MoistureProblems.com:

  • Use a moisture meter to determine the wood moisture content and relative humidity.  Proper temperature and humidity levels need to be consistently maintained to limit wood movement.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a humidity range from 30% to 50% in a building and a temperature range from 60° to 80° in a building.  If you stay within the recommendations, the amount of expansion and contraction is limited.
  • If wood has been recently transported, allow the wood to acclimate to its climatically controlled environment.  The acclimation duration will vary depending on the material.
  • Applied finish does not stop movement but will slow the rate of moisture exchange thus reducing potential problems but the wood will eventually acclimate to EMC.
  • Follow manufacturers directions for maintenance.  Properly maintained woodwork will reduce problems including mold, dry rot, and condensation.

And for all you woodworkers, carpenters, and builders out there, here are some additional tips from the Architectural Woodworking Institute:

  • Kiln dried wood should have a moisture content between 6-12% but it is important to note that once the wood is kiln dried, the moisture content will change during manufacturing, storage, or transportation.
  • Large assemblies such as ornamental beams, cornices, newel posts, stair stringers, and handrails should be built from relatively small pieces.
  • Wide door and window casing, and base moulding should be hollow-backed.
  • Backband trim, if mitered on the corners, should be glued and splined before installing.
  • Large solid pieces, such as wood stile and rail paneling, should be designed and installed so that the panels are free to move across the grain.  Narrow widths are preferable.

For in depth information regarding moisture and movement of woodwork, please use the links referenced (in blue) in this blog.

Care & Maintenance of Fine Woodwork

Happy New Year!

Starting off the new year with home organization and cleaning?  Here are some tips to help you care and maintain your fine woodwork. 

custom mahogany dressing room, cabinetry, woodwork, millwork, Boston, MA, New England

  • Architectural woodwork should be treated like fine furniture, particularly if it is constructed of wood and finished with a transparent finish system.
  • Fine architectural woodwork is finished with a commercial grade finish, which is durable and resistant to moisture.  Allow moisture to accumulate on, or stay in contact with any wood surface, no matter how well finished, will cause damage.  Prevent direct contact with moisture, and wipe dry immediately if wood comes in contact with moisture.
  • With the exception of true oil-rubbed surfaces, modern finishes do not need to be polished, oiled, or waxed.  In fact, applying some polishing oils, cleaning waxes or products containing silicone may impede the effectiveness of touch-up or refinishing procedures in the future.
  • No abrasives or chemical or ammonia cleaners should be used to clean fine woodwork surfaces.
  • Routine cleaning is best accomplished with a soft, lint-free cloth lightly dampened with water or an inert household dust attractant.  Allowing airborne dust, which is somewhat abrasive, to build up will tend to dull finish over time.
  • Remove oil and grease deposits with a mild flax soap, following the directions on the packaging.
  • Avoid excessive or repetitive impact, however lightly applied.  The cellular structure of the wood will compact under pressure.  Many modern finishes are flexible, and will show evidence of impact and pressure applied to them.
  • Avoid localized high heat, such as a hot pan or plate, or a hot light source, close to or in contact with the finished surface.  Exposure to direct sunlight will alter the appearance of fine woodwork over time.
  • Maintain the relative humidity around the woodwork to minimize wood movement.  Relative humidity between 25% – 55% is recommended.
  • Use the trims, cabinets, and fixtures, paneling, shelving, ornamental work, stairs, frames, windows, and doors as they were intended.  Abuse of cabinet doors and drawers, for example, may result in damage to them as well as to the cabinet parts to which they are joined.
  • Plastic laminate material should be cleaned with a mild soap/cleaner and water.

Reproduced from Architectural Woodwork Standards edition 1 (2009)