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Maximizing the number of floorboards per tree by going off the straight and narrow

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March 6, 2011

Bolefloor floorboards follow the natural curve of the tree from which they are cut

Bolefloor floorboards follow the natural curve of the tree from which they are cut

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There was also a time when wood was relatively cheap and plentiful in much of the world thanks to the number of trees just standing around waiting to be turned into useful things like floorboards. Unfortunately wood is neither as cheap nor plentiful as it once was, so it's important to make the most of every tree. Instead of following the traditional line of straight-edged floorboards, Dutch company Bolefloor maximizes the coverage area of floorboards made from a particular tree by following the tree's natural curves.

The Bolefloor system means that not only are no two floors the same, but no two floorboards are the same. The computerized system combines wood scanning systems, tailor made CAD/CAM systems and optimization algorithms to produce natural curved-length floorboards that fit together perfectly with ordinary tongue and groove joints – although ungrooved endjoints or a combination of both grooved and ungrooved are also available.

Bolefloors fit together with a standard tongue and groove joint

The system also uses visual identification technology to evaluate imperfections such as knots and sapwood near the edges and, to ensure installers aren't faced with a mammoth-sized jigsaw puzzle, each board is also tracked from its raw lumber stage to final installation.

Although it currently buys both FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified and non-FSC wood, Bolefloor will be applying for FSC certification later this year. Bolefloors are currently available only in solid oak, but other woods will be available around mid-2011. The boards run to 3 m (9.8 ft) in length with special orders for up to 6 m (19.6 ft) accepted. Widths range from 150-300 mm (5.9-11.8 in) depending on the shape of the tree, while thickness is a uniform 21 mm (0.8 in), with a 13 mm (0.5 in) line also available mid-year.

As part of its plan to bring its floorboards to all of Europe by the end of 2011 the company is starting with dealers in the Nordic and BeNeLux countries, which will be listed on the Bolefloor website soon. It is also seeking business partners in North America and is considering licensing its technology in Asia and South America.

In terms of cost, Bolefloor says its floorboards are on the same level as top end traditional floorboards from respected producers. But with their natural shape board's ability to capture the full pattern of the wood grain, there's no doubt they offer something straight cut floorboards can't.

Via inhabitat

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
8 Comments

i love it. It will be impossible to repair, expensive to buy and install, but it looks great - combination of floors 100 years ago and precision of modern technology.

Tomáš Kapler
7th March, 2011 @ 12:27 am PST

Uhm, there are not less trees now than there were. Maybe in some parts of the world. Generally though, there are now more trees, especially in many parts of Europe, thanks to many reforrestation efforts...

Also wood is not used for heating as much anymore as it used to be and sour rain is a thing of the past. Both also contributes to there now being more trees in Europe than only 25 years ago.

Skipjack
7th March, 2011 @ 04:52 am PST

I LOVE the look of this but have to agree with Tomá? Kapler that this would make it nye impossible ever repair if the need ever arose! And having come from the Pacific North West I honestly had never heard we were running out of trees? :-)

mrhuckfin
7th March, 2011 @ 05:54 am PST

More trees now you say? Maybe if you count all the little ones!

Measuring total cubic meters of marketable timber, or cubic meters per tree.. that tells the real story. Larger timber is rare now. Which is why this makes sense, and why mills by necessity have to increase their efficiency.

Just check google maps to see the logged out areas all up the west coast, all the accessible and good wood is finished.

j-stroy
7th March, 2011 @ 10:09 am PST

j-stroy I am from the PNW and there and no "logged out areas" yes they do still strip out areas but they replant and are good to go again in less the 20 years some times only 5 to 15 depending on the usage, if you look at satellite photos of the whole North West you can hardly see the ground for the trees, and you can look at old photos from the late 1800's to early and mid 1900's and there are almost no trees to be seen! Forest fires are even more prevalent because trees are now so close together and are not allowed to be thinned out and now pose more danger to community's. Don't get me wrong I love trees! But they are just a crop like corn or wheat and just grow a little slower, but not that slow as I have friend who are in the tree harvesting "biz" and they have "super trees" that grow 3 or 4 times faster then nature can do it and have a very hard grain to them so are better then what mother nature her self could do. It's a bit of a misnomer that trees are growing scares and or are only small saplings, we have more trees now then over 300 years ago. I can post a link if you would like.

mrhuckfin
7th March, 2011 @ 12:52 pm PST

its sort of the Apple version of flooring isnt it? The ultimate one-up-man-ship-I-can-spend-more-than-you home-makeover junkies will love. *sigh*

Nick Ramage
7th March, 2011 @ 06:30 pm PST

More trees, less trees... not sure those purporting the former aren't being selective with respect to location. Are you considering the Amazon?

Anyway, it's not really the important point. More yield from raw materials, ultimately, means a lower cost to produce. It's not really important whether you think the conservation point is correct. If people like the look of this solution (and I think repairs should be possible; they'll just add to the "patina" :) ) then it'll help either in terms of better margin for suppliers or actual lower costs to consumers.

It's a fine example of technology being used appropriately to improve the efficiency of production of a particular industry. Nice one.

martin
9th March, 2011 @ 05:25 pm PST

"Each year the forest products industry plants more than 600 million trees -- about 1.7 million trees per day and three trees for every one harvested. As a result, there are more forests in the U.S. today than there were 50 years ago."

http://www.afandpa.org/AmericanWoodCouncil.aspx

IggyDalrymple
18th March, 2011 @ 06:44 am PDT
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