In most cases we are indeed shaping the wood to be what we need, but obviously nature isn't going to grow door frames or rafters for us. It sure grows wood, though. No need to smelt it or refine it or really even figure out how to use it properly. It's not a "highly inconvenient form."
We get sheets and blocks of plastic shipped around that aren't in their final form, but they are the final refined substance, just as wood is.
Hell, you can't even burn green wood without a lot of effort, smoke, and the occasional steam explosion - and not very much useful heat. Have you never cut your own firewood? Unless you're smoking meat with it, you want to give it a good long while to dry out, ideally a season or more, before you use it.
So, no, by the article's definition, wood is no more a "natural resource" than iron ore. In both cases, ingenuity and effort are required to convert the raw material into a reliably usable form. The same is even more true of plastics, which require a great deal of complex refinement to go from original feedstock to nib or rod or wire or billet that can be cast, machined, or 3D-printed into finished products.
Not to mention that you get very different results depending on how you saw the tree into planks. Flat, quarter, rift sawn wood have all kinds of pros and cons. You will get more wood from flat sawn, so it will be cheaper, but it will be more likely to warp.
Out of curiosity, could you expand on this? Is it because of the scale or something else?
Log cabins seem mostly immune to this effect, and are usually built on-site with freshly-chopped lumber.
While it's not wood, per se, you can do it even simpler with bamboo. A lot of poor people in SE Asia build houses with nothing more than a machete (could use a simple stone tool if you like) and access to bamboo and often use organic ties (e.g. waxy leaves) instead of nails to hold it all together. There's no real reason why you couldn't use a similar strategy with wood to allow for some shrinkage.
Don't get me started on more modern engineered wood, e.g., plywood, or stuff like cross-laminated timber. You can create your own plywood pretty easily, but it is hardly a convenient process.
It's interesting how often two statements that seem completely opposed can both be true.
If I'm not mistaken there is a special kind of rake that used to be grown in its characteristic shape out of a single piece of wood.
> It is a resource to someone who can look at it and understand its use and value