Arts Sustainability

Mayer Woodworks Recycles, Repurposes Urban Trees

Dan Mayer at work

Dan Mayer has a life-long connection to trees. “I was raised in Asheville by an environmental coordinator and spent many weekends planting trees and developing a love for them,” he says. “I was always doing odd jobs around old houses and buildings. Through that, I developed a respect for the ‘down-to-earth’ and honest work of carpentry.”

Dan Mayer, artist. Photo by Ryan Theede Photography

The two loves came together when Mayer went to college, where he studied carpentry and cabinetmaking. Mayer’s business, Mayer Woodworks, is committed to repurposing and recycling urban trees to create lasting, beautiful woodwork, which he’s been doing for more than 15 years. “I realized I could produce my own material from storm damaged, urban trees,” he says. “After shopping around for someone to mill the logs I collected, I decided to invest in my own sawmill and develop an inventory.”

Mayer’s mill is portable and can be brought to any clients’ property, where large trees can be transformed into materials with uniform thickness, color and matching grain. Mayer also uses his own kilns, powered by passive solar heat, to dry the lumber, stabilizing the wood and ridding it of any pests.

Solar kiln

Sustainability and upcycling are the core tenants of Mayer’s work. Even the tempered glass windows for his kilns are salvaged from a construction site in Manhattan. “That’s what makes my work unique—sourcing local wood and keeping the logs in sequence as they’re cut, I’m able to produce a range of products that showcase the wood to best effect, and best utilize the qualities of each type of lumber,” he says. “Quarter-sawn oak is perfect for an entry door, for example. Weather resistant, stable and gorgeous.”

Dan Mayer, artist

Mayer is closely connected to the wood at every stage of the process, from sourcing it, to milling and drying it in his solar kilns, to the design, building and installation of the final project. Mayer’s end-to-end processing ensures that he has all the material he needs for any size project, from a massive commercial bar to a residential set of cabinets. One example of his work can be seen at Highland Brewing Company, where he sourced wood from within five miles of the brewery to design the live-edge maple wrap-around bar counter, live-edge cherry trim, custom picnic tables, benches and end tables. He also creates custom cabinets, tables, vanities, built-ins, sinks, dressers and stairs for residential properties.

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