Tag Archives: Bob Falk

Bob Falk, Building Material Reuse Pioneer – Shares his Home Remodel Progress

Bob Falk is a veteran building material reuse and deconstruction expert. One could say he wrote the book on how to salvage building materials.  Unbuilding: Salvaging the Architectural treasures of unwanted Houses was released in 2007 as the first book taking you through the process of deconstructing a building. The topic was so new that the publishers had a hard time finding a category for it. To this day you can find Unbuilding in construction, green building, woodworking, waste diversion and other various places.

Bob has a PhD in engineering and works at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin as a Research Engineer. Bob has published extensively on the recycling and reuse of wood materials.

Bob shares his house remodel progress below.


“My daughter Abby helping me lay radiant tubing in my new woodshop. Blue foam insulation is salvaged.



Reclaimed steel framework for garage…from an old coal plant. I designed and welded up all the components.



Front of new addition before stucco. All trim boards are reclaimed DF bleacher seats.
All insulation on the inside are industrial seconds from a insulation manufacturer. Garage doors are salvaged and rebuilt.
 Stonework is salvaged from a garage I tore down. Light fixture is salvaged from a teardown. Gutters and downspouts are now copper.


 Here’s the house today. Still not finished on inside. The right side was built in 1927. I have replaced all the windows, exterior woodwork, and stucco. Everything to the left of the main gable is new.  The tall lighting fixture on the right side of the driveway was an original street lighting fixture installed in our Village in the 1920’s. I was able to find two from a house teardown. I bought from the new property owner and rewired/repurposed for driveway lights.
You can’t see it in the pictures but I salvaged from a teardown two clay chimney pots that now reside on top of my chimney.  Also, I bought 800 sf of red oak flooring from HFH Restore that will be using in the house to match the existing, just can’t match with new flooring.” 


On Wisconsin: Wooden bullet helps researchers make affordable shelters : Wsj

Safe room testing

Bob Falk, a research engineer at Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, stands near an air cannon that fires 2-by-4s at 100 miles per hour into a wall designed for a tornado safe room. The walls of the room are made of interlocking pieces of lumber, making the rooms more affordable.

That’s why Falk and his team of engineers have been using an air cannon to fire, at 100 mph, 12-foot long, 15-pound southern pine 2-by-4s into specially designed walls made of some of the cheapest wood available.

The cannon mimics the forces of an F5 tornado with 250-mph winds. The lumber used to make the walls of the shelter is of such low quality, Falk had to specially order it because he couldn’t find it at area lumber yards or hardware stores.

“This is quite a resilient design,” Falk said after a test shot. “All we’re trying to do is absorb the energy.”

The goal is to create an economical wood-based shelter that can be easily constructed in a basement or garage by anyone halfway skilled with a hammer and saw. The process for making a tornado safe room could be similar to that of building a storage shed that comes in a kit.

“You buy the lumber, you take it home, you put it together,” Falk said. “And that’s an important aspect. Most safe rooms you can only put into new (homes).”

Safe room testing

via On Wisconsin: Wooden bullet helps researchers make affordable shelters : Wsj.