Desperate for Wood – A Woodworker’s Tale


Quite a few years ago when the woodworking and scroll saw bug hit with a vengeance, wood and money were both sort of scarce.  I had already built up a fair amount of stationary and hand power tools, as well as traditional hand tools by scrounging, saving and buying at yard sales.

Usable wood was the problem.  The sad part of all this is, we lived in an area where there was nothing but trees, trees and more trees. Oh yeah, we had a lumber yard or two around but they wanted an arm and a leg for lumber that was less than grade C or common, or rejects.

One day while roaming the country looking for a place to ice fish, we ran across a backyard sawmill right on the lake we decided to fish on.  On the off chance that he was home, we trudged across the lake and banged on his door.

Nicest man you ever want to meet came to the door and invited us in for coffee and a chat.  We asked him about his sawmill and wood, slabs and rejects, and anything else that pertained to his operation.  After the chat and coffee he asked if we would like a tour.  Oh boy, did we!

Of course his slab pile was huge, with all kinds of wood and all sizes of slabs, and he had trouble getting rid of them.  My friend and I were not long in making a deal to rid him of a goodly portion of them slabs.

We dragged a truckload home and set up the chop saw, band saw and thickness planer and commenced to make enough lumber, to last us a whole winter of scroll saw projects.  A lot of the slabs were cut from the butt flare, so odd shapes could be used. When I moved away a few years later, we still had some left.

The point here I guess, is that you should always keep your eyes open for any opportunity or windfall that may come your way.  That whole lot of wood cost us nothing but a couple of gallons of gas for the truck and a little bit of manual labor.  You can’t get it any cheaper than that.

Just a note about slabs:

Now you have to remember that slab wood is not always just bark, there is a lot of wood still there, but not good enough to sell.  The sad part about slab wood, it usually just sits in huge piles and rots.  But it can be turned into hobby wood or even burned in a heat woodstove to save energy – makes fabulous easy-to-chop kindling.

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