Friday, March 14, 2008

The Beauty of Wood and the Benefit of Good Relationship with your Supplier

One of the joys of life as a woodworker is wood, everything about it, the look, the feel, the smell. After a long hard week at work I went to my local Woodcraft store to see what wood came in this Thursday. I had been there last Saturday to hunt for curly maple and cherry for my newest project. My brother-in-law wants, a Stickley, Harvey Ellis Design 9 drawer dresser model number 913, that, funny enough, I had just mentioned in my post on the golden rectangle. I had a talk with the owner of the store, described what I was looking for, he told me his delivery was Thursday and to come back then. These dressers were originally made from quartersawn white oak, but now Stickley makes the same design out of cherry, and cherry with curly maple drawerfronts as well as quartersawn white oak. My brother-in-law had been to a local furniture dealer that carried Stickley and literally fell in love with this piece, but however not with the price-tag. Luckily he knew someone that loves to make Stickley reproductions and that just happened to have a plan for this design.
So after a little research and a little math I came up with a price that covered all the wood and supplies and maybe, when all is said and done, would leave something extra for the "tool fund". Now I know that a professional woodworker would have to charge much more for this piece and probably would come very close to the retail price, but this is my hobby, my sanity check. So I'm not into this to make money, but to make things that I want to make, to enjoy the process and to enhance my skills. I had actually been planning on making myself one of these dressers in the original form so this gives me a chance to make one as practice, it will show me the ins and outs of the design, make something beautiful that will be with their family forever, and give me subjects for this blog for a few months.
I showed up at Woodcraft Friday afternoon right from the hospital still in my scrubs, the owner greeted me and said he had something to show me. Walking back to the lumber racks he pulled out an 11 inch wide, 8 foot long piece of curly maple that was heavily figured from top to bottom, all the way across. Its difficult to capture the figure and grain in unfinished curly maple but take a look at the large version of picture to the left. He had put this piece aside for me and its service like that that keeps me coming back. This piece along with two 6 inch wide pieces, some maple for drawer boxes, two pieces of 8/4 cherry and all the nice wide 4/4 cherry in stock made up the initial buy for this build. I'll need a few more pieces of 4/4 cherry but I have the majority of what I need and as I type its acclimating to my shop. I don't buy all my wood from his store, I buy my quartersawn white oak in bulk from a mill in Iowa, but I buy everything else from him. When I first set up my shop I made a large purchase of most of my stationary tools at one time, he advised me to come in on a Saturday they were hosting some industry reps and I got some great deals from the Delta rep. He held my machines at the store until the shop was ready then delivered them in his truck, very helpful because I was driving a Mini Cooper at the time. I guess what I really want to say is, pick a local store, give them your business, develop a relationship, and they'll look out for you. They will steer you towards the good deals, and maybe if you are lucky, they'll set aside a beautiful piece of wood for that special project for you.
The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.
William Morris

No comments: