Woodworking Purgatory...

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Blog entry by Ethan Sincox posted 01-24-2007 09:38 PM 1138 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A few years ago, before we were married, Dana and I went to Ohio to visit her family. They all live close to Akron, which is most of a 10 hour drive, so we’ve always flown up there, and this time was no exception.

As much as I’m a conservative, Dana’s mom is a liberal, so we try to avoid those kinds of topics. But one thing we all enjoy is going to estate sales, so more often than not, we’ll hit one or two every trip.

On this particular trip, we happened by a sign that said a small family business was going out of business and the estate sale was that day. What caught MY attention was the fact that the small family business was a furniture repair shop. So after much pleading and crying, we turned around and went back.

I was slightly disappointed in the shop, to be honest with you. I have a feeling the really good tools were taken to a specialist auction or sold in some other manner, because we were there early, and I didn’t see much of anything in the way of hand tools. There were some possibilities in a few unfinished pieces of furniture, but that wasn’t really what I was looking for.

As we were leaving, I saw a small cardboard sign with an arrow pointing to the left that simply said, “wood”. I was intrigued. I turned to the left and entered a small shed attached to the building and entered one of Dante’s nine levels of Hell.

The first thing I saw was another sign that had two prices on it:
$5.00 per board if the board is under 3’ long
$7.50 per board if the board is over 3’ long

I was surrounded by stacks of wood in varying lengths and widths. There was several hundred board feet in each stack, with stacks for white oak and red oak and walnut and cherry. There was a smaller pile of reclaimed wormy chestnut, about 20 boards of 5’ to 8’ lengths, over to one side. Behind that was a much smaller stack that was simply marked “exotics”.

My mind started racing. For $100, I could have a nice supply of some pretty rare wood! How much money did I have in my check book? How much money did I have in my savings account? Could I transfer that money from an ATM? What if I even just wanted to try and sell the lumber on-line? That might be a great way to make some money…

How was this like a visit to Dante’s Purgatory, you might ask? Here follow my next thoughts…

How could I… oh, crap. How could I get any of it home??? We’d flown up to Ohio! I couldn’t possibly ship it – with my mother-in-law’s car, I couldn’t even get it out of the parking lot! I briefly thought about renting a U-Haul and driving it home, but the cost of the U-Haul and the wasted plane ticket and the time and effort needed to achieve such a feat made it an unlikely option.

So what could I do? I did what I could. I grabbed as many of the exotic boards as I could that were under three feet long (i.e. that I could fit into my suitcase). I only spent about $20, but… that was the best I could do.

Slightly dejected, I waited outside with my small bundle of wood for everyone else to finish browsing. While I was waiting, I watched a guy load a 14” wide x 1” thick x 12’ long white oak board into the back of his extended-bed pickup truck and tie a red bandana to the end of it.

Me: So you only paid $7.50 for that one board, right?
Him: Yup! This is great! I’m making a trunk and I’ll be able to get all the wood I need out of this one board!
Me: So… you’re just buying the one board, then?
Him: Yeah, that’s all I need for this trunk I’m making.
Me: … (unable to form any words for several seconds) … but… but you have a truck!

Everyone else came out at that time, so we walked back to the car and started heading home. Two lights later, we ended up next to a blue pickup truck with one board sticking out the back, red bandana flapping in the wind. He looked like the happiest guy in the world, with his one board, while I wanted to beat my head on that board until I passed out.

I can’t really say I REGRET leaving all of that wonderful wood behind, but hopefully if I’m in a similar situation at some point in the future, I’ll try to come up with some kind of a creative solution.

-- Ethan,

4 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4127 days

#1 posted 01-24-2007 09:53 PM

one man’s bliss is another man’s hell.
Not only did you have to endure the “single board” misadventure once but it was brought back to you to taunt you.

The tragedy of it all. I can feel your pain.

those words will be in my head forever: “but you have a truck!”

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4277 days

#2 posted 01-25-2007 12:01 AM

I guess this guy wasn’t a real woodworker or maybe he only had enough room at his shop for one more board, otherwise he’d had so much wood on that truck his tires would have been flat!. Of couse, he lived near by, so he could always go back for more later. I’m sorry to hear of your mishap and feel your pain. That’s the way it is in this business…when you have the means and the money the deals evade you and when you’re broke or away from home there are deals jumping out at you everywhere. Driving to, Ohio next time?

-- Jesus is Lord!

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4293 days

#3 posted 01-25-2007 02:42 AM

Hell indeed!

I’ve done the drive from Ohio (after flying out to pick up my wifes late grandfathers car.) Quite a drive, but wood have been well worth it for any of that woodworking booty! I wood have filled that Tempo to the gills, and skipped the stop (and fill up) in NY’s wine country.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4203 days

#4 posted 01-25-2007 02:59 AM

That guy obviously hadn’t ever spent his last $40.00 on oak, or he had no vision for the next project… I’m sorry, I have no shame. I would have sold family members for a find like that. I’m a salesman, I’d have told the in-laws that “That stuff sells for $5.00 per foot. Yer a bunch of idiots if you don’t buy every last stinkin stick.” ... then I would have knelt down and cried like a little ninny cause i couldn’t have any of it.

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