Toon van Loon: “I completely fell in love with wood.” | translated from ZLND.nu

Oak table top | Photo: TimberTony Woodworks

Toon van Loon travels throughout the country with his mobile sawmill . Wood is his great love and he mainly acquired that love during his time as a farmer in Denmark. Toon is originally a farmer, first in Zeeland on the Oventje and later in Denmark. In 2009 he came back to the Netherlands.

Back in Zeeland, Toon started working with wood. “Wood is strong and is widely used in the Scandinavian countries, why not in the Netherlands?” he wonders. Working with wood, he sought innovation, an alternative to the long production time of wood. That’s how he ended up with hemp. He was inspired by a documentary he saw about the versatile hemp plant.

“Hemp has numerous areas of application and is also a suitable locally renewable raw material for biorefinery: Fiber, Rope, Paper, Textile, Canvas and also as a building material: The woody parts of the hemp plant can be used in combination with lime to build houses. The woody parts are then mixed with lime and other lime-based binders. Several thousand homes have already been built with this building material in France and Great Britain. A major advantage is that the material has good thermal mass in combination with a good thermal conductivity factor.” source: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hennep

According to Toon, a conventional way of thinking prevails in the construction world and it is used to working with petrochemical products. “The focus is mainly on efficiency and not enough on innovation. It is therefore a hassle for constructors to work with hemp because the currently commonly used types of wood are stronger. The downside is that it often takes a long time to grow. Oak lasts about 80 years and poplar about 30 years.” In the future, Toon hopes to be able to realize a number of sustainable homes with hemp building materials.

Hemp grows like crazy and, according to Toon, it can already be used after one year and is

Paulownia Tree | Photo: Jesper Schytte

therefore quickly renewable. Toon also sees great potential in the Anna Paulowna tree, this Chinese tree species that is now being used to build a Great Green Wall in the Sahel in Africa. According to Toon, the Anna Paulowna tree is the tree of the future. “Paulownia is one of the fastest growing trees in the world and originates from the Far East. At the same time, it is the wood that absorbs the most CO2 in the world.”

In the meantime, Toon van Loon remains busy with his mobile sawmill. A good example of what Toon can do is a project in Amsterdam . An old poplar had to be cut down there and some people from the neighborhood also wanted to give something back to the neighborhood. Toon came to Amsterdam to make something useful from the poplar: some long tables, a card board, a tree trunk to sit on and more.