Lee Valley & Veritas
Woodworking Newsletter
  Volume 13, Issue 6 - August 2019    
Young men watching another man turn on a lathe.
Lee Valley is proud to take part in this important initiative with GreenWood, a non-profit organization that works closely with remote communities in forested regions of Central and South America to find better, more sustainable ways to use timber resources.

The Mission

GreenWood’s goal is to help conserve rainforest ecosystems while also promoting the self-sufficiency of the people who live there and depend upon the forest for their livelihoods. GreenWood’s unique approach offers a practical alternative to unsustainable forestry and land-use practices that are particularly prevalent in tropical regions. All too often, activities such as clearcutting, illegal logging and the large-scale conversion of forested land for agriculture bring an array of interrelated environmental, social and economic problems. GreenWood’s model of sustainable development offers hope for a different outcome for both forests and people. Their approach already has an impressive record of success and has tremendous potential to transform communities, economies and ecosystems in other parts of the world.

By providing people with the tools and training to create useful, marketable products from selectively harvested woods, GreenWood helps create a vital source of income and meaningful employment for the local population. These smaller-scale enterprises create substantial economic incentives for responsible forestry practices, adding value to extracted timber so that fewer trees can be cut to gain greater local economic benefits. By conserving resources, these activities help ensure that future generations may continue to rely on the forest for their livelihood.
Man turning a mallet on a lathe.
GreenWood’s mission began with a small field project in 1993 in Honduras, led by entrepreneur and woodworker Scott Landis and directed by the Woodworkers Alliance for Rainforest Protection, a group that was then at the forefront of promoting sustainable forest management as a way to ensure a renewable supply of tropical woods. That project initially focused on making chairs from lesser-known hardwoods (as well as other forest products, such as vines and bark fibers for caning), diverting demand for overharvested woods such as mahogany toward underutilized species selectively cut from second-growth forests. The success of that initiative launched similar furniture-making projects in Honduras, and in 2001, GreenWood was officially established as a non-profit educational organization, with headquarters in South Berwick, Maine. Collectively, GreenWood projects have produced a wide range of furniture, as well as boats, guitar parts and milled, dried lumber – both for local use and export. More than 20,000 acres of rainforest are currently managed by GreenWood partners in Honduras, with plans underway to expand to Puerto Rico and other regions of the Americas.
Turning on a pedal-powered lathe.
Key to GreenWood’s success has been its broad scope, from identifying underutilized tree species to training local artisans to create marketable products from their wood. And since they operate in many remote communities that lack reliable sources of electricity, GreenWood has focused on developing innovative, low-tech equipment that uses alternative energy sources, such as lathes that run on pedal power, easily constructed on-site using a repurposed chain-drive from a bicycle. Of course, these small-scale industries could not survive without buyers for the goods they produce, so GreenWood also helps them gain access to markets in other parts of the world through established trade and shipping networks, connecting producers to consumers who want to buy their goods. That’s where Lee Valley comes in. We are pleased to offer our customers these high-quality hand-turned wooden mallets from a GreenWood workshop in Paya, a small village in northeastern Honduras, one of the most heavily deforested countries in the world. Not only are the woodworkers who make these mallets well paid for their work, but we are also donating 100% of the proceeds from our sales to GreenWood to help expand their efforts to other regions. As a further benefit, we’re confident that our customers in North America will be happy to own and use these mallets, which not only help make the world a better place, but are good, attractively made tools with real utility in any woodworking shop.
Young mend watching older gentleman turn on a lathe.
The Woods

GreenWood’s team includes a range of specialists, from forestry experts to woodworkers, who collaborate with local residents to select woods that have been largely overlooked by conventional logging operations. Together, they identify various products that can be made from those woods, taking best advantage of their physical properties to suit the application. To make these mallets, five hardwoods were selectively cut from managed community forests on the north coast of Honduras. These woods were chosen for their density and resistance – both desirable factors to look for in a woodworking mallet. Although these woods exist in sufficient abundance to be harvested sustainably, they are little-known outside their native ranges. The Janka hardness ratings listed below are based on a standardized test that measures each wood’s relative resistance to denting and wear. For comparison to more common woods, the Janka hardness of Honduras mahogany is 800, hard maple and European beech are 1450, and cocobolo is over 3000.
Hardwood mallets made of various woods.
Mallets are made from five hardwoods (left to right), cincho, cumbillo, Rosita, huesito, guapinol.
Cincho (also known as machiche) – Lonchocarpus castilloi
A highly dense yellowish-brown to dark reddish-brown wood with a moderately coarse texture and grain patterns that vary from straight to interlocked. Janka hardness: 2700

Cumbillo (also known as nargusta) – Terminalia amazonia
Moderately dense with a yellowish-olive to golden-brown color, often with prominent reddish stripes. It is a medium-texture wood with interlocked grain producing distinctive streaked patterns. Janka hardness: 1600 - 2100

Rosita – Hyeronima alchorneoides
A moderately dense wood, light reddish-brown to chocolate-brown, with a moderately coarse texture and interlocked grain in streaked patterns. Janka hardness: 1700

Huesito – Macrohasseltia macroterantha
Ranging from pinkish-white to light yellow in color, it is a moderately dense, fine-textured wood with interlocking grain. Janka hardness: 1350

Guapinol (also known as jatobá or Brazilian cherry) – Hymenaea courbaril
An extremely dense wood that varies from salmon-red to orange-brown, streaked with dark brown. It has a medium-to-coarse texture and mostly interlocking grain. Janka hardness 2350 – 3290

The Mallets
Hardwood mallets ready to be shipped.
Besides being a model of sustainable development and a needed source of income for local artisans and sawyers, these mallets are simply good, well-made tools in their own right. Individually hand-turned in a community workshop on a small gas, electric or bicycle lathe, each displays superb craftsmanship. Though made using fairly basic tools, and from dense woods with often challenging grain patterns, there is no evidence of tear-out or other flaws. Designed by Lee Valley, the form is that of a traditional carver’s mallet, designed for tapping chisels without damaging the handles, or for similar tasks requiring more finesse than power. The head’s bellied profile helps ensure solid point contact, and the radiused corners help prevent chipping. The contoured handle fits nicely in the palm, or you can choke up on your grip, nestling the head in your palm for finer control. With either style of grip, the tool feels beautifully balanced in the hand.

Lee Valley staff

Help promote sustainable artisan enterprise in Honduras by contributing to GreenWood’s "Turn it Up!" campaign: gofundme.com/f/greenwoodglobal
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