A few years ago I had the good fortune to run across a supply of wormy chestnut lumber. The tree was felled here in Ohio, and the gentleman who owned the lumber remembered where the tree had stood in the 1920s when he was a boy. The boards were thick and wide—virgin timber that can’t be replaced. After significant consternation, and with much care, I decided to use that lumber to build a tool chest for my shop. We ran it as a project in our June 2008 print magazine.
Among many varieties of lumber I’ve had the chance to build with, this chestnut is the most special to me. You probably already know that American chestnut trees have been all but extinct in this country since the middle of the last century. Massive forests of native chestnut, which once covered much of the eastern part of the United States, were wiped out by a blight that came here from Asia around 1904. Within a period of only 50 years or so, it decimated the species, leaving stands of dead trees in its wake.
The blight continues to weaken and kill the few remaining native chestnut saplings that spring up from old stumps today.