Earlier this month I was in Phoenix visiting my brother and his family. Before I left Omaha, I searched the area for woodworking stores in the area. This is a normal routine for me, and I typically have to sort out the flooring and cabinetmaker shops from the search list. I found one listed that looked very promising, Woodworker’s Source only 15-20 minutes from my brother’s house.
Wow, what a great source of wood! I saw bundle after bundle of exotics and domestic lumber. Of course when you are traveling, there is only so much you can put into a suitcase. They were eager to ship anything I wanted, but I was not prepared to pay on this trip. They do offer to select wood per your specifications and send them to you, but I kind of like picking my own.
I am making boxes currently, and I went looking for figured woods that I could afford and get back home. I discovered out in the shop two pallets of odds and ends black walnut pieces that varied in size from 15 inches to 6 inches in length and from 9 inches to 2 inches in width. Most of them were figured wood from crotch or branch locations. And to top it off, they were $4.00 for each piece!!! Had I been in my own truck, I would have taken an entire pallet (if my wife had not been along), but I knew I needed to be selective.
The crazy part of the story is that they got these pieces from a furniture maker in Chicago that cut these ends off their wood and BURNT them to dispose of them. I don’t know how they found out about them, but they said they had a market for those cast-offs. Burnt them??!!
After discussing this with my brother and my wife, I decided to buy pieces large enough for my projects, but a small enough quantity that I could get them into a USPS flat rate box. Later we found a flat rate box that was 24 inches by 12 by 3 inches. I got everything into that one box with a tiny bit of room left. So, back to the store I went the next morning to pick up a little bit more, and picked out a small piece of ebony that would fit into the end of the box. I included 3 pieces that would not fit in the box, but I knew I could add them to my suitcase. My brother mailed the box to my house and I carried the other 3 pieces in my luggage. We are all happily home now in my shop!
And, the sweet gal who worked the counter gave this Omaha boy a club member discount, so each piece was $3.33 apiece. Not a bad price for highly figured walnut firewood!
Look for some of these rejects to show up in some nice boxes in the near future. If you plan to travel to Phoenix, stop by and check them out — but save the firewood for me.