Monday, September 15, 2014

Local wood from a local sawyer

The time has come to build some new furniture for the new house. The item at the top of this list is a headboard. When we replaced our queen sized torture device with a king sized "sleep surface" the old head board went to the basement and eventually to craigslist.

The bedroom set is craftsman style made of a feau oak (foak?). Regardless, it looks nice, is damn heavy and we have no intention of replacing it. I'm the only one who notices the long grain where there should be end grain on the tops of the night stands and dressers.

The new headboard won't have the same look, but will be close. Heavy posts connected by long rails with a padded leather panel and a cap on top trimmed similarly to the other pieces in the room. And it will be real oak stained to match the foak. Oddly enough I'll be staining red oak with Minwax's Red Oak.

I don't have a sketchup drawing to share since I can't be bothered to figure out how to draw the panel with padding, so take these two pictures and mash them up with my barely legible sketch to get an idea of that it will look like.






This new project requires wood that I didn't have. I have previously bought wood from my closest hardwood dealer, Downes and Reader. They supply Tommy Mac with all the wood he uses in his shows. At just under an hour away a typical round trip clocks in at around three hours. I shouldn't complain but this is a large chunk of my limited free time.

On a hunch I went browsing the +Wood-Mizer website hoping to find a directory of local sawyers, and to my delight found what I was looking for. Turns out there are a couple of sawyers pretty close by with one of them only two towns over, or about a fifteen minute drive.

I emailed them and they both got back to me quickly. Each cut locally downed trees and had the species I like and want to work with. The further one told me his prices are 20-30% below Home Depot's. My local HD gets $27 for a 6" x 8' long piece of S4S 4/4 oak. That's $6.75/bf, so this guy must be getting around $5/bf, rough sawn. Seems a bit high to me.

The other guy who is only a couple towns away charges $2/bf for just about everything and has plenty of oak, maple, cherry, ash, walnut and pine. All air dried. No. Brain. Er. I paid him a visit on a Saturday afternoon and could not have left happier. To say that my expectations were exceeded would be a colossal understatement.

He and his wife helped me pick through one of his stacks of rift and quarter sawn oak that was cut in March. A moisture meter showed ten percent MC, in August no less. I was thrilled. He even cut the twelve foot boards down to eight feet so I could fit them in my car and I only paid for what I took away

I wanted to get some walnut as well, just to have, and he gave me a roughly four foot long and eighteen inch wide board from his shop that he was sick of moving out of his way. Gave, as in free.

After a tour of his shop and a chat about ourselves (he's the lead engineer on a cargo ship and is gone for three months at a time sailing around the world), I left feeling good about giving money to a local guy.

I have only just recently finished removing the rough surfaces (by hand and not by choice - more on that in the next blog post) so I can't speak with full confidence to the quality of the wood, but all indications point to me having a new source of lumber.

Thanks for reading.
Jim