Tuesday, September 22, 2009

wood lust

As a woodworker I am constantly searching for materials to feed my fetish. Lumber can be quite expensive, especially the more exotic woods. Buying from a typical lumber yard or big box store is one way to keep the shop stocked, but the choices are usually somewhat limited to the finished nominal sizes if dimension lumber. And you won’t find any exotics or rough and unmilled pieces in the typical lumber sources.

Most retail lumber sources—think Menards, Home Depot and Lowe’s—will have the usual most commonly used finished woods like oak, maple, walnut, and pine in the usual most commonly used dimensions. I use a lot of that type of lumber and find those sources convenient if somewhat limited. I have found it a bit frustrating now that I have begun woodturning that I can’t easily find big chunks of rough lumber that I need to turn some of the projects I have in mind. Glueing up turning blanks from dimension lumber is one way to go, and I have done a lot of that with excellent results. But as a woodturner I crave logs and big chunks of unmilled and unfinished slabs of different kinds of woods.

I have begun paying close attention to work sites where trees are being felled to clear the land for building. While others may search out those locations as a source for firewood, I seek them as a source for the raw materials I need for my lathe. I have even bought a chainsaw so that I can more readily handle and prepare logs that need to be cut into manageable turning blanks. But cruising the streets searching for raw materials is hardly a convenient or expeditious way to spend my time.

So it was with great excitement that I recently found a place that could provide just the sort of lumber that I craved. It is a tree trimming and removal business that has an enlightened approach to its mission. Dedicated to using the entire tree in the most useful and nonwasteful way, this company has stockpiled slabs and logs of oak, maple, walnut, birch, and other woods that furniture makers, artists, and woodturners lust after. While some parts of the trees that get cut down are turned into mulch and firewood, a very large proportion of the tree is saved and rough cut into huge planks and short log sections that are then properly dried to provide the kind of working material that we woodworkers crave. And the price is right.

I will use this source a lot as I continue my woodworking efforts. I will gladly buy from Green Man because I like the way it strives to use the whole tree with little or no waste. As long as they are willing to put forth the effort I will do my part to help them stay in business.

Now, back to the workshop and a gorgeous chunk of ambrosia maple on the lathe

Monday, September 07, 2009

they weren't kidding

Some friends invited us for dinner this evening. Not unusual as far as invitations go. The reason for the invitation was my expressed skepticism about their purported method of cooking chicken. They had something to prove.

Awhile back--I forget the circumstance--the conversation at another getogether happened to hit on their method of grilling a whole chicken on the grill. They claimed straightfaced that they would prop the whole chicken on end and stuff a beer can up the chickens butt and cook the chicken with said beer can--full of course with beer--in place. I, of course, figured they were blowing smoke up my butt by making such a claim and so I dared them to prove it.

And so they did. I took pictures just in case there are skeptics like me who need hard photographic evidence to belive it.

Apparently there is a whole book devoted to the cooking of chickens and other foodstuffs with a beer can being central to the success of the process. Who knew? I'm not only convinced that it is possible, but quite pleased with the result.

Oh yeah, the chicken was delicious.