In January I posted to an LJ forum about a planned woodworking trip to the Berkshires. We went on Feb 19, 2010, and it was a great day. Well, it was a cold day, when Steve and I left Glastonbury, CT for the Berkshires. During the trip we were joking about buddy movies and decided to subtitle our trip: Glen & Steve’s Excellent Woodworking Adventure as an homage to perhaps the worst buddy film of all time.
Our first stop was Bannish Lumber in tiny Chester, Mass. Their URL is http://www.bannishlumber.com/
As I suspected Mrs. Bannish was in the office and the wood stove was blasting. She is absolutely charming and just chatting with her is worth the visit. Bannish Lumber is a family owned flooring mill. They are kindly toward woodworkers and take the nice pieces of lumber and put them into the “retail shed” for folks like us. I’ve been to Bannish many times. They just give you the key to the retail shed and you’re on your own. You can pick through the wide selection to your hearts content. The retail shed is unheated and full of native hardwoods as well as pine. Here are two different views of the retail shed, an unheated metal building with lights I’ve never been able to turn on.
They have excellent prices on North American hardwoods, but wear boots and bring a pick up and a couple of flashlights. There really isn’t any retail service. Once you load you drive back to the office and give them your list to cash out. Steve and I bought a small stack of maple, birch, and white oak. Here’s Steve sitting beside our haul.
After leaving Bannish we drove west along state route 20 toward Great Barrington, Mass. It’s a nice little town and the home of Berkshire Veneer. Their URL is http://www.berkshireveneer.com/ Like Bannish it’s a small operation run by really wonderful folks.
There is no sign on the road or on the building, so call before visiting. As we drove in Ben, the owner, and Jonathan were leaving for lunch. I’ve met Ben a few times and I asked if we could join them. They brought us to a little place in South Egremont, Mass for some great burgers, and Ben actually treated. After lunch they gave us a tour of the facility. It’s a warehouse full of great veneer.
Ben and Jonathan showed us the stack of samples of the exotics in stock. I believe this is Macassar ebony on top.
Here are photos of Ben showing us some of his stock including beautiful walnut crotch veneer.
I bought some maple and some walnut veneer. Here’s the walnut rolled and packaged for travel.
Just south of Great Barrington is Sheffield, Mass the home of Berkshire Products. You can visit their web site at http://www.berkshireproducts.com/index.htm I haven’t been there before, but what a great inventory. It’s was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. Berkshire Products specializes in highly figured woods and has thousands of big burls and slabs. Many of the slabs are huge.
Their stock of figured wood was by far the best I’ve ever seen. This is a piece of incredible birdseye maple.
This was a great tour, we really enjoyed ourselves. I still can’t believe I didn’t buy the birdseye maple, but they had a room full of boards, and I’m sure I’ll be back. Perhaps there’s a future for me in wood tourism if not blogging. Cheers,