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

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