Making Light of Too Much Lumber

Making Light of Too Much Lumber

Last week, Chris wondered whether you have ever bought more lumber than you actually could use. It seems several of you have! – Editor

“I know the feeling of the allure for more wood to feed my hobby! I have a cabin in the mountains, and we had a bunch of cherry and walnut trees fall down. I had previously taken some logs to a mill, but this was close to thirty 8′ logs. I started to figure what it would cost to be milled, then saw an ad for a Woodland Mills sawmill for about the same price. I bought the mill and sawed up the lumber but afterwards needed a place to store the mill and lumber. My wife, who is a good sport, says to me, ‘So you got this free wood and bought a mill to cut your free wood, then you have to rent a place to store your mill and your free wood!’ However, I’ve had fun cutting a whole lot more lumber for myself and others since then and have plenty of wood to make projects. I have my own ‘wood store’ now. Thanks for sharing.” – Ed Hahn

“In 1978, I purchased about 200 board feet of cherry for $200, (a great deal, sort of; the wood wasn’t that great). Two years later, we moved from upstate New York to Pittsburgh and then moved back a year after that. The mover classified the wood as ‘shelving’ so my company would cover moving them in both directions. It mostly sat in my workshop after some aborted projects were attempted. Finally, in 2016 our youngest daughter asked if she and I could build an island for her kitchen at college. I rummaged through the wood and came up with several pieces already glued up to very close to the size she wanted. We completed the project in a way that she could transport and assemble it at school. She used it at school and now she and her husband have it in their house. I haven’t used the rest of the cherry, but that one project was worth the total price. Here’s a photo of the completed project.” – Rich Zuccaro

“Here’s my story of a ‘siren call.’ It’s more of a confession and plea for help. I volunteer on an advisory board that oversees what we call Heritage Village, a sort of living history farm in northwest Iowa. Every year, we open everything up to schools and visitors for our ‘Harvest Festival’ and demonstrate all that we have, including a working sawmill. Needless to say, that’s where I ‘work” each year. My 2-1/2-stall garage barely holds one car now. Time to thin out my collection, but the ‘siren call’ happens every year. Last fall, I only came home with one rough-cut piece of beautiful elm — a 3″-thick slab about 16″ wide and 7′ long. That’s in my basement. I need counselling. I may also need marriage counseling.” – Mark Buss

“Sometime around 1970, my grandfather was a real estate agent in Coffeyville, Kansas, and had access to some property that had a dilapidated old barn constructed entirely of black walnut — posts, beams, joists, planks, etc. He hired someone to raze the barn and salvage the wood before the property was sold. He used some of it for his own purposes but passed a lot onto my father who shared a good portion of it with me. Many special projects were produced from that beautiful wood. As we relocated over the years, movers would ask if they had to load up ‘that firewood’ over there. The answer was always ‘of course.’ Now, only a few small pieces and cut ends remain, along with several rusty square nails from the original barn. In fact, last fall I actually had to pay for walnut by the foot for a project, and I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the price. What a treasure my grandfather found and had the foresight to salvage.” – Mark North

“In regards to your question about wood hoarding, yes, I also am guilty. Two examples: 1) 1995 while living in the Atlanta area we took a day trip to Dahlonega. Stopped at a roadside woodworker’s ramshackle shop. Bought as much rough-cut sycamore as my Oldsmobile station wagon would hold. Most of it, when planed, had that beautifully figured grain pattern. The pile stayed with me for multiple moves through the years. One temporary resting spot was a rustic shed in Union, West Virginia. I recently used the remaining choice pieces to craft a jewelry box for my wife. 2) In 2001, I acquired a pile of rhododendron roots from a demolished gazebo built in the 1940s. It was impossibly brutal to work with, but the polished straight grain was filled with shimmering visuals that change with the viewing angle. And the wood borer holes in the root burls left a fascinating pattern. Like the sycamore, these pieces stayed with me for years. The created pieces were artful and had no practical applications except to be beautiful to look at. There still remains a decent pile of them awaiting inspiration. If we were to examine my holding onto this wood from a practical viewpoint, I would have to admit it borders on insanity. The amount of effort involved in just the moving effort was huge. Equating that effort to purchasing new wood – no contest. Like your walnut purchase, each time we look at our reserve, or think about the pieces we have created, our woodworking passion is renewed. So yes, us woodworkers have a unique form of insanity that I hope never leaves.” – The WoodFisch (Kim Fischer)

“Well, we’re all guilty at some point in our ever-changing needs. I am guilty of dumpster diving in the past. For well over 30 years, I have been carrying some 4/4 mahogany that was ‘thrown out’ at my naval base in the 1990s. What do I use it for remains to be seen.” – zmeister

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