An Introduction to I WOOD

An Introduction to I WOOD

The Groove Makes I WOOD a Game Changer

Treecycling Inc., a not-for-profit company, offers a new approach to the way we look at the valuable material we harvest from our forests. Any improvement that significantly reduces the number of trees that need to be harvested for building wood structures, is a big win for both the building industry and the planet.

In this video, I WOOD founder and creator, Christopher Scott, explains a more sustainable use of timber. Take a look at this one-minute introductory video.

Why we should be re-thinking wood

Up until about 500 years ago, wood was the building block of civilization. From the beginning, wood has been essential for everything from cooking and heating, to building shelter, and even fighting.

Wood is a wonder product that can be used in many areas where we currently use plastic, cement, metal, and petroleum-based materials. Wood is far more sustainable than cement, iron, and plastic. During the growing period, wood sequesters carbon and reduces erosion and run-off. During the process of making trees into lumber, wood produces useful by-products such as wood chips for making paper, fiberboard, and wood pellets for heating and cooking. At the end of its life, wood can be used as compost or fuel or allowed to degrade in a natural manner, ultimately, in many millions of years, becoming part of the fossil fuel inventory.

Traditionally wood was milled with flat sides because this was the easiest way for hand and (later on) machine tools to economically convert logs into lumber.

Treecycling asked, “Do we have to do square? “

I WOOD is an alternative to flat-sided dimensional lumber (such as 2bys) with a groove milled into one or more sides of the board lengths allowing for greater versatility, strength and ease of construction, lower weight without sacrificing significant strength; reduced storage requirements; faster drying; reduced twisting and warping, and the ability to increase the harvest from smaller-diameter trees.

The first I WOOD grooved lumber used a female groove along both lengths, resulting in the I-Beam shape that originally inspired us to call our grooved material, I WOOD. This shape permitted compliance with traditional fastening conditions.

Note: We refer to I WOOD lumber by replacing the “X” used when refering to dimensional lumber (i.e. 2X4 or 2X6) with a letter that resembles the profile of the grooved I WOOD board. So, a 2X6 grooved to the I-Beam shape would be called a 2I6 (two “I” six).

The I-Beam shape results in a number of benefits over traditional dimensional lumber.

The removal of fiber when creating the I WOOD shape results in less splitting and warping as well as significant savings in the drying process. Less moisture has to be taken out of the wood.

The material we groove out of the board can be used as the raw material for other forest-based products, such as wafer-board or paper pulp, adding to the usable (and salable) product that can be taken from each tree harvested.

Shipping and storage can be reduced by up to 30% because of the interlocking stackability and reduced weight of I WOOD. Compare the volume of 18 I WOOD boards to the volume of 18 2x4s

A better way to build with wood

I WOOD component parts can be precut to the sizes needed, and then assembled quickly and accurately, using hand tools, by people with little or no carpentry experience.

I WOOD interlocking surfaces take advantage of the natural strength of wood rather than relying on the friction imparted by nailing flat surfaces together.

Structures and furniture built with I WOOD can be assembled in less time, with little or no site waste, while resulting in a stronger, more accurate finished product. The component parts can be precut to the sizes needed, and then assembled quickly and accurately, using hand tools, by people with little or no carpentry experience.

In addition to saving our forests, converting as little as 1% of our construction projects to I WOOD in the United States alone, could reap financial benefits in the billions over the next 10 years, with almost no capital investment. 

The I WOOD family of shapes

I Wood shapes can be produced on a router, planed directly at the sawmill or made from pre-milled dimensional lumber, such as 2X4s and 1X2s. They can be used to make just about anything, from drinking straws to cathedral columns.

The shapes are designed so that they can be mixed and matched for making fluted furniture with rounded corners or bow-fronted cabinets with the male side out or in. The flutings can be stained or painted in different colors, or just about anything you want to do with the design flair not easily realized when using smooth-sided raw material. The grooves in the edges help very significantly in the assembly process. Glued grooves tend to nest together whereas smooth glued edges usually tend to slide resulting in significant sanding being required to finish the project to professional standards.

Why groove the wood? It’s a wonderful product already.

The strength that grooving adds to wood has been appreciated for thousands of years and the beauty is evidenced by the popularity of tongue and groove flooring products.

I WOOD’s grooves and wood-to-wood joins, with carefully selected precut component parts glued together, begin to copy nature’s perfect joint — the tree branch. Some tree branches have been moving continuously for over 2000 years and remain strong and flexible!

The Environmental Factor

I WOOD grooved wood is beneficial to our planet:

  • I WOOD makes better use of our forest resources. It takes fewer trees to complete an I WOOD house frame than when using conventional lumber.
  • Because I WOOD grooved wood is lighter and stacks in a smaller space, it requires less fuel and expense for shipping.
  • The fiber generated by milling the I WOOD groove in boards adds 30% more usable material from logging for the same costs. This means 30% fewer trees would need to be cut for a given amount of fiber. These uncut trees could absorb the equivalent of all US automobile emissions. That’s a huge environmental gain as well as a monetary one. It would be the equivalent of planting thousands of seedlings every year.
  • Cutting fewer trees means less erosion and run-off, and water tables and aquifers would replenish faster and more habitat remaining for wildlife.
  • Wood is a renewable resource. Although fossil fuel is currently required for operating equipment and transporting lumber, harvesting trees to produce I WOOD would require no additional fossil fuels.

Manufacturing I WOOD Kits can benefit our communities.

I WOOD grooved wood and kits can be manufactured by local woodshops, providing opportunities for enterprising local woodworkers to build a successful business with their skills while putting their profits back into the local economy.

When I WOOD boards and kits are manufacture and sold locally, shipping costs and the impact to our environment are significantly reduced. Local I WOOD manufacturers can also source their wood from nearby sawmills or urban forests, further reducing shipping while supporting the local economy.

Want to know more?

Be sure to visit and for more information on the many ways that I WOOD can be utilized and further developed.

Share this post