Thursday, December 10, 2015

Just a note before Christmas

Hello folks.

Its been busy here at the shop. Had several furniture pieces to get done and I am almost finished with had to be done before Christmas. That is a good feeling.

The lumber has been coming in and slowly been getting dried. Just can not hurry the process. I have gotten a few loads of 4/4, 5/4 and 6/4 material in this past year. My storage area is getting pretty full. Some beautiful white birdseye and some wide, heavy figure flame birch and curly maple. Got a few log sets of some stuff. I have not pulled as many log sets this time. I will be getting a big load of thick stock in the next week or two out of the kiln. Lots of 8/4, 12/4 and some 16/4 in most of the figured stuff. Flame birch, curly maple and birdseye. Some great turning stock or bed post material. I am having some more 12/4 flame birch cut. I only got enough for 1 bed and have several guys who want it. The problem is , it can take a few years to get the material dry. Thick stock is a bugger.

I also have talked with one of the mills I buy from about cutting some high quality birdseye veneer stock for guitar makers. The only size I know of is 5/4 material. If you are an instrument maker and want something cut, let me know. I can't promise anything, but will see what I can do. Veneer logs are a whole special thing. I would have 1000's of dollars just in the logs. I want to make sure folks will buy what they say. I do get a lot of 8/4 material that would work for bodies. The 5/4 is for necks. The specs are very tight and huge eyes with all white material.

I am still selling 20 ft packs, single planks with natural or live edges , turning stock ,etc. I can ship via Fastenal where possible on pallet loads or fed ex freight. Spee dee is a service I use for the upper midwest. If you need something special, let me know. If you can pass my info on to someone, I would greatly appreciate it.

I wish each and every one of the folks I deal with a very merry Christmas and a great new year ahead.

Friday, September 4, 2015

What I see when I look at rough sawn lumber

I have been asked many many times how I pick the lumber I do. I guess I have looked at so much over the years I think I know what will be good or not. Its not a perfect system by any means. The mill is the first ones to pull the wood. I have met with the owners and have also taken time to meet with the graders and sawyers.Believe me when I say, its all about trust and communications.

I take time to educate everyone that will be picking wood for me. Its only in their and my best interests to be forthright and honest. Once we are on the same page, it goes very smooth. You get some hiccups once in a while, but nothing that can't be worked out.

I go by the National hardwood graders rules on all my lumber. They are well explained and there are sources on the web to read them. I am not a certified grader. I go by what they tell me is what I am wanting. I usually don't mind color on 1 side of a board. By color, I mean heartwood or mineral streak. I can pull all white if the client wants that. Its just adds to the cost. On many of the pieces i have built over the last 35 years, I rarely needed both sides of a piece to show. And with using dyes to color the wood, it barely ever makes any difference. 

Instrument makers are the hardest to work with. I do sell to a few. Many are just asking for the moon and then do not want to pay the cost. I will work with anyone and try and be honest and fair. But you can't ask to buy the cream of the crop and then complain about the cost. The very top 10% of the wood is the easiest to sell. It is also the most expensive. 25$ to 50$ foot is not hard to get at all.
Whats hard is selling bulk. I get , what I consider , to be some very high grade material. It is easy to say I sell only the very best, but I do get a lot of wood and there is stuff that does not make the highest grade. By that, I mean some curly maple has some heartwood, or some birdseye has some color or wane [barky edges]. Never has it stopped me from using it in my work. But some folks are under the impression that God only makes pure white, heavy eye birdseye and they want 30" wide boards 5 feet long and all clear. For 17$....I have had that question asked, more then once. I guess what I am saying is , the wood is all cut to my specs at the mills. I have had very few issues with bad material. 

I try and sell only what will work for a project to folks. I ask questions about what they are building. Its a whole lot easier to help if I know what you are going to be cutting the boards into. I know in many of my pieces, I rarely use boards more then 4 or 5 feet long. Many times is 18 inches to 36 inches long. I never worry much about cup and twist in figured woods. It happens and always will. I wish I could dry it all in a vacuum kiln. But I can't afford to buy one. My wood is done the old fashion way. Air dried , then in a dehumidification kiln. It works well. But the figured woods all tend to twist and cup and God knows what. The wood is all sawn to inch and one either for 4/4 stock. I can cut the material I need and by jointing 1 side flat and then planing it, I still can get 7/8" to 13/16" for the pieces. If you think you can by 1 inch stock and resaw it to get two 1/2" pieces, it will not happen. At best you may get two pieces that are 3/8".

A piece of really heavy figured curl or birdseye can be dead flat or it can be twisted like a pretzel. I just have to figure out how to use it the best way. I will not toss and badly twisted piece. I'll figure out something can be made from it. its up to me to figure out.

I probably shouldn't say this, but for the pieces I have made in my home, I used the worst stuff no one would buy. It all worked.

Here are some pictures of wood in the rough and then some of it planed. I see the figure in the rough. Its the one way I tell the mills what I want. If I can't see the figure in the rough, I don't want the wood. The figure is not heavy enough. Many of my clients will say, "you just pick it out, because I know, you know what it will look like."I hope that folks will trust me to always give them great material. My word means something and if you don't like what I have picked, I will gladly take it back. The only way I
can't is if you have colored it or chopped into small pieces. In all the years selling wood, I only had 1 order refunded. Being a 1 person business, I am trying hard to gain and keep my customers.

 hard curly maple before and after planing

 Flame birch before planing
 after planing

 Weird figure maple before planing
bark pocket maple after planing
Birdseye maple after planing
Birdseye maple before planing

I hope this helps show what I see. Any questions, please email me or call. Hope you all have a great Labor Day weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

New load from the kiln

Its been very nice so far in Wisconsin this spring. Wet and warm at times, but no complaining from the peanut gallery.

Just got several new loads from the kiln. Some stunning material. Flame birch in 5/4 , 6/4 and 8/4 and the same in birdseye maple and tiger maple. Even got a few pieces of 12/4 birdseye and curl mix. Those will make someone a stunning pencil post bed or turned bowls.

The wood business has been doing ok. I have had several new customers and they all seem to be happy with the material. I seem to be sending out more pallets lately as well. Had to buy more new pallets. Longer so it was easier for Fastenal and other trucking companies to haul them.

Its getting full in the shop. I am fortunate to have my grandson come help me a couple days a week.
Lots of unloading , stacking, measuring and checking figure. I wish at times it was easier, but I have to lift each and every board several times from when it starts air drying to when its finally put away. I probably touch each piece 6 or 8 times in the process. I guess I am not into "lean" processes.
I will be offering a veneer slicing service. I have contacted a company that slices veneer from boards. They steam it and slice it, anywhere from 1/42" to 1/16". If this is something you are looking for, let me know. Its not inexpensive, but if you want to work a lot of surface, it can be done. This is not something for 1 or 2 boards though.

These are a log set of wide 6/4 flame birch. All natural edges, just some stunning material. Some of these will be used in a class by Charles Neil this fall. I have some really sweet 8/4 material as well.

Let me know what you are looking for. I only sell figured lumber from Wisconsin, the UP , Iowa and Indiana. Best stuff in the world as far as I know.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Walnut and Cherry crotches just out of the kiln.

I always hesitate before writing the title to this blog. Not sure if I like the word crotches in the title, but then again, that is what they are called.

Just unloaded the solar kiln after almost a year. I had it loaded with walnut and cherry crotches. Got a big skid full that are ready to go. All 8/4 [2" thick]. Some matched sets, some singles. Only 5 cherry ones in the whole bunch. Great feather figure in most all of them . Some checking is always in these, but for the most part, its not bad. I dried these really slow. Would make great turning stock as well as resawing. Sizes are , what I think , is very large. Some are close to 18" wide and up to 48" long. I also have a 3 piece set of 1" thick walnut that is 23" wide and 69" long.

I will be unloading another load of green stock tomorrow. it has picked up from the mill as of late. Mostly all birdseye, heavy figure, 5/4, 6/4 and i am hoping for 8/4 tomorrow.

Also have a new delivery service for parts of the mid west. SpeeDee is the company. They are about 30 to 40% less then fed ex. They do Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa and parts of Missouri and North Dakota. Look them up online and you can see what zips they all deliver to. Pallets will still go Fastenal, but I will also check other prices.Email me or call. Always glad to help with questions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Springtime, 2015

Not a lot of pictures this time. The weather has seemed to finally have warmed a bit. Than again, its Wisconsin, so who knows?

The amount of stock that came out this winter is down from past years. I was up by the mill last week and talked with the owner. I always have known figured wood is rare. How rare is a matter from folks to debate. I can only pass on what I am told by the guys who saw it.
He sawed 75,000 board feet of yellow birch last week. I got 60 feet to bring home. Does that tell you anything?

This winter has been one of the best logging winters in several years. The weather was very cold and not a lot of snow, so the loggers could get into lots of areas that had been hard to get to for several years. The mill yard is full and its been a very slow winter to get figured wood. They have been sawing like mad, but there has been little stock that has been pulled. I have gotten about the equivalent of 2 full loads this winter. I normally run 7 to 10 loads.

Now this spring can still be good, but I am just in a holding pattern. I am getting a small load in today.
But I have gotten some really nice stuff this winter. It will be a year or so before the 4/4 and 5/4 stock is ready. 8/4 and thicker takes years. Just can't rush it.

I have gotten some wonderful birdseye, flame and curly. Like I sad, not a lot of pictures this time, but then again, I do have a few. Let me know if I can help with any of your needs.I always have material in all thicknesses. Just got a nice load of 6/4 birdseye and tiger maple out of the kiln. It is pretty.
 rough sawn birdseye, you know its good figure when you see it in the rough.
 Piles of thick birdseye, 8/4 and 12/4.
 A nice crotch piece of cherry, I have a few like this. All 8/4.
Walnut crotches. Really nice book matched sets.
Birdseye maple flooring, it took a year to get the material and have it made, but it turned out beautiful!