Enterprising Kansas Woodworkers Salvage Unwanted Trees

Landon Harness and Greg Anderson are all about repurposing old things. The two men, natives of the eastern Kansas town of Lawrence, have made a career out of rescuing unwanted objects and turning them into something useful.

In 2015, the Black Hills Corporation decided that they wanted to demolish a dilapidated Quonset hut in Lawrence; they considered the building worthless. However, the hut was built in 1955 and is recognized as something of a historical landmark in the town. Harness and Anderson rode to rescue, agreeing to buy the hut from the Black Hills Corporation. They transformed the structure into the site of their new woodworking business, Form & Function. The company’s goal is to only use local trees that have outlived their usefulness to make beautiful things. Working with area tree removal businesses, the men create lumber out of undesirable trees culled from neighborhood yards. Typically, these superfluous trees are burned or turned into wood mulch by local tree cutters. Harness and Anderson, however, are determined to rescue the trees and transform them into useful and beautiful furniture. Together, the pair has saved dozens of species of trees from bonfires. They use traditional woods like maple, oak and walnut, but aren’t afraid to think outside the box. They have repurposed more unusual woods from mulberry trees, nettle trees and persimmon trees. Even the despised American sweet gum tree with its sticky sap and pointy fruit has use at Form & Function. In their quest to avoid waste, the Kansas woodworkers have given community trees a new lease on life.