The Heartwood Mill is a start-up company located in Edmonton, Alberta. Its purpose is to recover valuable trees from the urban tree services industry, to mill logs into beautiful artisan wood pieces and dry them quickly, crack free, and in a fraction of the time, using a specialized vacuum kiln. These wood pieces are sold to the public so that trees can live a new story, rather than be thrown out in landfills or burned as firewood.
The Heartwood Mill was conceptualized and created by the CEO of tree services company Got Stump Inc., after witnessing the incredible amount of waste generated during a tree removal process.
However, there are challenges in transforming a tree trunk into wood for artisans. The drying of unusual shapes and sizes of wood is not standardized, and attempting to use standard drying practices causes 3 problems:
- Drying time is unknown. It can take months or even years.
- During drying, the wood dries at an uncontrollable rate. It becomes prone to checking and cracking, devaluing the wood.
- Finally, wood pieces that are air-dried or dried in a standard kiln will warp.
Using his background in Chemical Technology from the Northern Alberta Institute for Technology, Brad Helm realized there was another solution: put the wood in a chamber and apply vacuum to pull off the water. This would dry the wood quickly – in days rather than years.