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If skyscrapers can be built from wood, can other large items be built as well? i.e. automobiles, boats, motorized vehicles of any kind.

There are several questions to be considered in answering this question; will the wood hold up in collisions? Is there enough resources to mass produce these complex vehicles? Would an engine be able to operate with such heat on a wooden frame? Would this idea have the same benefit resourcefully as the skyscraper idea?

  • Aug 6 2013: Wood makes for a poor construction material given other alternatives for the vast majority of applications I'm afraid.

    For starters, it burns. While it can be designed in such a way that it doesn't go up easily due to its geometry and charring effect (charred wood is a brilliant isolator), those features don't hold up very well after a crash or collapse where the wood gets splintered into many small pieces.
    As practically anything that isn't static utilizes an engine of some sort, which releases a lot of heat and my contain volatile fuels, that rules out wood for anything other than a static structure.

    It also rots, as well as swells and contracts due to changes in humidity, which is why most wooden structures have a much shorter life span than similar constructs of metal, plastic or concrete. Being frozen and thawed can't help in the areas where that's relevant.

    Throw in deforestation, the economic non-viability compared to cheaper synthetics, and a poor strength to weight ratio, and you end up with wood as not much use for anything other than pure aesthetics, and maybe fuel for the occasional camp fire.

    And specifically, wooden sky scrappers are a horrible idea. Modern steel and concrete construction is the primary reason you don't hear of cities being burned down to the ground left and right like you see in the historical record.
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    Aug 6 2013: Bradley,
    I am curious regarding your thoughts and feelings about this issue. Your question asks if we can build automobiles, boats and buildings out of wood. Well, we know that we can. Are you trying to encourage that idea? In a comment you wrote on another thread you say..."I was raised with the panic of the rainforest being cut down and will always play a role in my thoughts when it comes to cutting down tress." What are your real thoughts and feelings regarding this issue?

    "Bradley Bezverkov
    1 day ago: I believe at this point it is time to start coming up with more complex solutions to climate control than just the simple reduction of fossil fuel use. Carbon sequestering is an outside the box thought that should be explored in great detail. My main concern with the heavy use of wood is the deforestation issue, I was raised with the panic of the rainforest being cut down and will always play a role in my thoughts when it comes to cutting down tress."
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    Aug 6 2013: Bradley,
    Of course the items you mention can be built from wood. We know that the very first boats, vehicles and buildings were constructed of wood. The big question is, do we want to go back to that, and if so, why?

    As late as 2000, a British motor car manufacturer (Morgan Motor Company) was still producing cars with a wooden body substructure. I happen to be in one many years ago, that went off the slippery road at night and hit a tree. After seeing the smashed up car, I realized how lucky the driver and I were to get out alive! I don't think they "hold up" as well as vehicles constructed of stronger materials.
  • Aug 6 2013: What skyscraper is made of wood? none of the larger ones that"s for sure.. wood in a car with a modern engine with modern speeds would kill everyone inside metal alloys are so so much stronger denser lighter and cheaper.
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    Aug 6 2013: My 6-year old told me a joke

    Have you heard of a wooden car with wooden wheels and wooden engine?
    ...
    It wouldn' go. :-)
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    Aug 12 2013: Up until the 20th century ALL of the boats that had ever traveled on either salt water or fresh water were built out of two things: 1) hide & wood, or 2) just wood. Pole boats, canoes, row boats, sailing ships, steam ships and every other kind of ship up until about 1880 or so were all made out of wood. And wood is still used for boats in many settings.

    Wood is tough to use for an automobile. Some of the early ones were made mostly of wood, but modern engines at highway speeds are too much for a wooden frame. The engine itself has to be metal (or maybe ceramic - but that's experimental, assuming it ever worked at all). I Googled Morgan Motor Company. They're still making wooden cars.