Monday, October 17, 2011

Lumber Search

My grinding wheel lay still. Quiet for what feels to be too long. I'm getting restless.
I've been on the search for lumber for my prototype chair, Ash was my original intention. It seems Ash is quite lacking in "the market" which is a bit of a surprise to me typically seeing it abundant. Walnut is low too. Really, there is just a general lull in wood it seems.

What little Ash I found at one commercial supplier was inadequate, even for their typical less than stellar stock. The other commercial supplier had none in 6/4 or 8/4. Small piles of Walnut at these locations riddled with knots and defects for $8-$9 per bd/ft.

Called the small sawyers I've worked with before to answering machines or poor news for my quest.
Today I went to another place I've been in contact with before. My hopes were high.
Turns out we speak a little of a different language.
I've never quite seen the kind of array before. There was Ash and there was Walnut, but it was either in the form of the flattest sawn pieces I've ever seen or perfectly quarter sawn. These must of come from sizable logs!
"There's no market for that kind [rift] of stuff."
This kind of statement gets to me a little. I realize that I am a bit of a small nook of a current market but the beauty of rift type lumber has been utilized by fine craftspeople for well more than a hundred years.
Particularly here, the chaotic flat sawn and heavily bias quarter material is used all over. Even so, I have yet to meet the furniture maker that once they see and understand the flow, grace, and cohesion of well cut material, want to go back to the current "standard".
This doesn't mean that rift is the only way to go. Not only would that be wasteful but there is a time and place for all cuts.
Maybe I'm overly sensitive, or just crazy, I don't know ha.

Yet I did not come home empty handed :)!
There just happened to be a small collection of 6/4 rift sawn "sticks" of Oak 3.5"-5" wide. All from the same tree I'm told though I have some doubts. I assume these were cut off in the quartering process. Not normally the kind of thing I'm looking for but for this application it works out quite well. I would normally be cutting these bits from the edges of "flat sawn" lumber.
In this way there is definitely less waste involved especially since in this project I can work in 6/4 lumber. So, my cost was a bit lower than normally anticipated for Oak.

Got some templates cut out ready to look over this Oak for components tomorrow!
Oak is not the friendliest species to work with but I'm looking forward to digging into some work again.
Looks like I will have to rethink the upholstery choices again heh.


Jeff Branch said...

I have the same kind of problems looking for wood. I have two sources for good wood (meaning not Home Depot) and when looking for mahogany once, both had it in very small supply. I ended up ordering some on-line which worked out great - a little nerve wracking since I bought it sight unseen. Good luck!

Matt Petersen said...

Share your frustrations with respect to finding a nice peice of ash. ;-) It is a wonderful material that rarely gets the respect given to other more 'noble' woods. I think the poor supply is in large part due to the outbreak of emerald ash borer in the Midwest. Most lumber mills in my area are now refusing to process logs, citing too much regulation around the handling, etc. As a result, the supply has pretty much dried up here in Indiana as well.

csd_jr said...

It looks like we all feel your pain, Nicholas! I only like using Oak if it is rift sawn; there isn't really a lot of flat sawn (and sometimes quarter sawn) Oak that I like the look of. It's a personal preference, but it's also hard to find quality pieces. So, I really just use the Walnut my family harvests from our forested land. It doesn’t hurt that it has always been my favorite wood to work with but we all need a little variety in other wood choices, right? I’ve grown to like Ash a lot more, and in relation to Matt’s comments, it is getting harder to find with the Emerald Ash Borer around. I haven’t ordered anything of the Internet yet (like Jeff was successful in doing), but there will probably come a time really, really, soon when I’ll have to. I have heard good stories and bad, so I’m still a little hesitant! Until then, I’m just going to stick with the Walnut…