A Tree Grows in Pittsburgh
Thanks to Urban Tree, reclaimed wood has never looked so good.
Jason Boone is passionate about giving new life to what otherwise might have been wasted wood. The self-professed fan of greenery owns Urban Tree, the local firm dedicated to transforming salvaged lumber into functional pieces, including bar tops and dining-room tables.
His small outfit, established in 2011, aims to preserve wood from Pittsburgh’s aging tree population — along with the legacy of the late John Metzler, who founded Urban Tree’s namesake forge in 2008. Because the organization doesn’t offer tree-removal service, it works with others to secure lumber.
Local homeowners hoping to donate a tree must contact Boone, who evaluates whether he’s able to use the tree. At times, he acquires timber from the city. An arborist always is involved with the uprooting when the wood is headed for Urban Tree.
The group mills logs into manageably sized slabs at the removal site before hauling lumber to their warehouse. Fully preparing timber for reuse can take a few years because the process involves several steps, such as air-drying the wood slabs. Boone, who has worked with wood since he was young and holds a degree in architecture, encourages clients looking to buy a finished product to take time when selecting their choice of timber and articulating product instructions.
“We can really turn the wood into anything,” he says. “Everything we do is a custom piece.” When he finds time, Boone’s also into wood sculpting and has sold a few of his creations.
For now, Urban Tree is somewhat limited by space and equipment. Boone says he dreams of someday running a “well-rounded operation” that can “reclaim more and more” and “offer more.”
See for yourself »
Here’s a short list of Urban Tree’s corporate clients:
Legume Bistro (Oakland): When the eatery’s owners wanted to revamp its interior, they turned to Urban Tree to create table and bar tops.
The Waldorf School of Pittsburgh (Bloomfield): The play area at The Waldorf School was a “collaborative effort,” says Boone. Urban Tree built the structure, and folks affiliated with the school installed whimsical features.
- Shadyside Presbyterian Church (Shadyside): This local sanctuary has an onsite play area, containing pieces such as stepping stumps, a balance beam and bench.
Product photos by Jason Boone; milling photo by Nate Lucas