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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've seen a lot of unusual lumber here and on other milling sites, too. Tim's post and the pics of the Pecan and Sassafrass stump lumber is a good example.

I guess I'm wondering where the market is for this kind of product. I see a lot of bookmatched boards and slabs pictured here but they are full of cracks, voids and inclusions. Character is one thing but as a woodworker, they would be essentially unusable to me.

Spalting color and zone lines, curly or burl figure, heck, even mineral staining can be used as accents but the bulk of what I build (furniture, mostly) requires clear stock.

I saw all my own wood with a manual bandmill and a lot of what I see pictured here would go on my burn pile. But, if there is actually a market for it, maybe I should re-think what I consider acceptable.
 

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ETWW,

In the past year the number of clients requesting 'character' lumber has soared. Almost every custom job asks about live edge and some even want flitch cut lumber. Also a higher proportion of planks requested over boards. When I'm grade sawing and explain the face options many will opt for more character rather than the straighter, tamer, grain choices - especially in walnut. :thumbsup:

Photos of specialty pieces like George Nakashima built, butterfly dovetailed cracks, epoxied crevices, etc. all capitalize on the uniqueness of real wood. Most of my clients don't want something that looks like it came from a big box store, imported wood-looking furniture. :thumbdown:
 

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Sawing against the Wind
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Hey ETTW,
We're just on opposite sides of the fence/line/road..LOL..there's really not a middle. It takes a good sawyer either way....not every sawyer can saw "grade" nor every sawyer can see the potential in the "UGLY" stuff...it's as much of an art to calculate a great ugly board as it does for premium wood. I personally can admire both as an art in themselves in how a good sawyer can bring out the BEAUTY of the grains!!!

As for the furniture end ...I admire the great patience it requires to build fine craftsman type furniture as much as I admire how an artist/craftsman can take a piece of "trash" Ugly wood and make such beauty.

Now I cut the "UGLY" stuff BUT only from the stuff you as a grade sawyer would cull....so we're both helping the environment, not wasting AND LOVING what we do!!!

I can cut grade....but it's not my style or desire BUT I'm glad others do enjoy it.
 

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Rustic furniture
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I gotta chime in here.
It's all a matter of what you want to accomplish as furniture/artisan/designer. Also what is the regional customer base?
Next is can you compete with fine joinery straight laced wood furniture designs and the Chinese/foreign offerings out there?
I can't and won't try. If I can't make something totally unique, I'll close up shop and go back to customizing cars.

It's sorta like cars. You either want a car with stock straight lines and a monotone paint scheme, and maybe custom wheels/rubber, or you opt for something very different.

Straight grained simple clean boards have their place in fine joinery and standard pieces. I highly appreciate that, but it's not what I enjoy messing with or building.
I'm considered by some as an artisan (to me I just butcher pieces together), and what I found living in the Chi-town area is most loved my furniture, but they didn't fit their home design scheme. Same with custom cars. Many will come to a car show and drool, but they wouldn't attempt owning one. Here in the Asheville NC area, my furniture style is sought after and furniture stores are telling me, they can't get enough of it in stock. Here you have the very wealthy tourists who own very expensive 2nd homes, in a cabin-esque wooded mountain setting. Their interior designers are after something different, and unconventional.
Now I gotta say, I've just moved here and am not established yet, but the market here will likely do me well.

There is something to be said about "live edge" heavily grained and colored pieces. You can stare at the wild out of control grains for hours and not see the same thing twice. It's the wood, and how to display it's beauty, not necessarily the fine joinery (since there is none).

There are differing challenges in messing with wild grains. They are inherently unstable and need tamed. You cannot do fine joinery or it will all blow apart on you. So you don't even try.

I applaud cutters like Tennessee Tim.
He has a God given eye for the unusual and looks for it before milling a log. He has splatted wild grained pieces in live edge and things I drool over. (Drooling on wood changes moisture content by the way.)
The nature of live edge wild grains is hard to deal with. They crack/split/move/shatter, and maybe you can make a piece work. Maybe it is a waste of time...(haven't lost a piece yet)

I consider it "Wood Re-hab"
I take the dregs of the wood society, dry em out, clean em up, de-bug em and hope they won't relapse.

Here's my site. Look at the projects section. Bear with the slow loading time.
http://gnarlywooddesigns.weebly.com/
 

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Da Aardvark,

I should have thought of you when I was listing examples, your work is very unique and inspiring. :thumbsup: I started out as a woodworker looking for a way to salvage the trees that I ran across. I have morphed into a sawmiller who doesn't have very much time for woodworking most of the year. :sad:

I do get requests for character pieces and woodworking friends have sifted through my personal stock, looking for that special piece. I probably will stockpile more once I get a kiln built. :sweatdrop:

The great majority of what I mill are my clients' logs. I try to offer an assortment of skills to meet my clients' needs. Everything from sawing a near-veneer quality red oak log into trailer floor (ouch) to milling a storm downed walnut with a shattered trunk into something they could make into a family memory.

I applaud all who are out there displaying their work in shows, shops, articles and websites. The more exposure we can get, the more the public will learn to appreciate the uniqueness of natural wood products and the value of craftsmanship. :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I build a lot of Period furniture so I guess the style dictates my lumber preference. I can definitely appreciate the uniqueness of live-edge and slab furniture but was primarily wondering about the marketability of the lumber. There is a LOT of it pictured here and on other sites. I was just wondering if much of it was being sold.
 

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ETWW...the market depends on your area but I sell a lot of pieces that others wouldn't mess with. The wood has to be of a size that you can visualize it in the finished piece. It also has to do with your customer base. I go out of my way to find artists as opposed to strictly furniture builders or woodworkers

Also, the way I see it is if the wood doesn't sell it can always be firewood instead.
 

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Rustic furniture
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AAAAK!
FIREWOOD ?
I can't imagine the 3 black walnut kitchen tables I built, or the ant chewed catalpa slabs I made coffee tables from....
Up In FLAMES!
(Hi Allen! I'm living around Asheville N.C., now.)

Allen was one of my wood suppliers when I was in the Chi-town area. Him and his cutter friend, Greg (who is also on this site), set aside many pieces for the artists and just plum crazy people like me. If pieces/slabs/etc didn't have ant/insect chew and massively twisted grain, I would walk away from the sale. Allen had some beautiful 20-22" (a 40"+ wide table) wide bookmatched, bark on, walnut slabs, longer than 8ft. and I walked away from them, since the grain was too straight. Price was right, look was wrong.

We who work in "live edge" artsy projects will glom onto a cutter/supplier who offers those kinds of pieces. Realize though, as a cutter, if you don't have the eye for those kind of pieces and aren't good at the cut, we likely will move on to the next supplier.
It's the wood we display. Not so much our abilities as a fine woodworker, with tight fancy joinery. We want the wood to speak to you.
I've used a lot of hollow log Maple and Oak, where the pieces were being pushed by a backhoe into a burn pile. They were a challenge to get de-bugged and dried out but the end product turned out awesome in many respects. These pieces cannot be repeated.
 
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