Saturday, May 5, 2012
The likes of which are hard to find...
I'm pretty lucky - I have access to some great stock. I have a friend who I've known for many years. He was a co-worker of my father's and an assistant scoutmaster of our scout troop when I was young. He's taught me much about the forest, wood and forestry management. He continues to do so today. One of the things that he taught me is that managing the forest is something you do for your children or grandchildren, as it takes so many years to get results.
This man and his father have both tended the stands of White Pine, Oak and Soft Maple on their property, pruning the trees when young and managing the forest itself for many many years. On this property there are some White Pines that are absolute giants - pruned for clear stock 17' from the ground and over 36" in diameter. Some of the stock that he cuts is in excess of 18" wide and as much as 24" wide. He has a portable bandsaw mill and selectively cuts logs from the property when they're mature. Occasionally, he has some stock that he knows I'll be interested in and will give me a call - for example, a cherry log that became some of the furniture in my house, and some large cherry burls. Alternatively, when custom stock is needed, he'll cut that too.
The boards that are in the picture above are White Pine - they'll be used for stringers on the skin-on-frame boats you've been seeing and will see more of here in future - with no scarfing required. The two top boards are 16' long, 13" wide and four-quarters (rough) thick. It is straight grained and flawless. Underneath are two 14' long 10" wide boards, also four-quarters thick - one with a small knot 2" from the end. You definitely don't see stock like that every day and I know that I'm fortunate to have it available to me. It's almost a shame to cut it into narrow strips like we do, but I console myself that it's not the widest or cleanest stock that he has.
There are still people like this gentleman who are farmers, tree farmers or small businessmen who manage the land and cut stock. You can be fortunate like me too. All you have to do is ask around and look around. If you find woodworkers, they usually know someone like my friend who can help you. You'll also see notices in the paper or posted on message boards. Keep your eyes open!