Turning Archive 2005

Beating the bushes pays off - again

Mike Schwing from Md.
>This is posted as a not too subtle gloat as well as a example of how to find turning lumber.

Since I have a pretty good relationship with one local tree service that provides plenty of good lumber, and have turned a few of my turning club buddies onto it, too, I haven't worried much about seeking out new sources in a year or so. The folks are nice, but the logs are usually short and often quartered into sizes the workers can handle as they have no crane equipment.

But I got to thinking about it the other day and moved my efforts into Baltimore City, where there are loads of very old residential trees. I got the names and addresses from superpages.com and decided to do a driving tour last evening. In person visits of this type are always more successful than an unknown presence on the telephone.

The very first place I pulled up to was a well hidden, off of the road location and as I drove around the property my jaw dropped. As I scanned this log dump I saw massive logs in a pile so big I had to look twice to see all of it. On the ground was a 4' (foot) thick, 12' long walnut trunk with fresh shoots growing out of it. Next to it is a 30" cherry trunk, just as long. To the left in the distance, oak and maple and beech, OMG I was losing my mind! Surely these folks would be turning these into flat lumber, I thought.

The manager, seeing a strange car in his lot, drove up and I introduced myself quickly, telling him what I was doing there. "These trunks cost us a lot of money lying around here. You want'm, they're yours." He then proceeded to show me around, totally tickled that someone might make something from and lighten his financial burden. He said that sawmills don't want residential trees as they often have metal in them.

"Do you think I could bring my club members here, too?" "Sure, we have a release you'll need to sign but you can take all you want." (no way!)

We talked some more and then I drove away with a big cheesy smile and probably a new turning club member to boot - who manages a log dump!

I'm probably going to make a few trips on my own before I turn the location over to the club, but who could blame me for that?

I also discovered why the local tree service guys never manage to save me burls - locally they're called "cankers". For a few years now I've been having his miscommunication. They'd just look at me and nod, but nobody ever told me they didn't know what I was talking about.

So the moral of the story? Beat the bushes, go places you wouldn't normally, put a smile on your face, and talk to the man who approaches you.

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