Free. He said it would be free.
That is sort of the holy grail for a woodworker: free wood.
I’ve had many people suggest to me ways to get free wood for what I do (but no one ever had the contact to get it done). But while I was 3-deep in customers at the California Avocado Festival, a guy found me. Would I like some free wood, he asked?
With all due skepticism, I said sure … eventually. He was talking to me in mid-October, you see, and I was staring at a calendar full of events, with little time for fun things like getting a great deal on wood. He had a bunch of Sapele, he said, and it was mine if I would just come get it … 90 minutes from home. I declined, and the wood was gone 24 hours later (sigh).
Once we got to the other side of our 4th quarter events, though, I was staring at 75 luxurious days of no events. I had time to play … maybe even time to get something for nothing. I called him back and asked if he had any wood … and he had a bunch of Walnut, free for the taking. My next Saturday had no events scheduled (!), so I went to get a Jeep load of free wood.
This woodworker showed me a portable container in his driveway that was filled with 3″ thick Walnut slabs. Most were 24″ wide. They all came from 2 trees, he said, harvested 5 miles from the California border with Oregon. How they came to be in his driveway I didn’t ask, but he was using them to build Walnut doors & woodwork throughout his home. He was half done (and the Greene & Greene-styled Walnut doors were truly spectacular). As he was processing the wood for his doors, anything that was too small for his use was cut into 2′ lengths for firewood … perfect for me.
All I had to do was invest a half day driving to get it, and then spend a half of Day 9 to process the wood into usable pieces. In the end, I learned a lot about processing rough stock. Much of what he gave me had a straight edge on one or even two faces. Some pieces I could process directly on the table saw, but others were too large and had to be broken down on the band saw before I could do final processing on the table saw. A very few pieces will have to go through the planer first, and those few pieces I put aside for another day.
Meanwhile, though, I got about 15 board feet of Walnut that was perfect for what I do. The rest went into the recycling barrel. The usable pieces are now set aside to dry now that I have them roughly processed to a usable size … but I’ll be using this free wood in a few months!