Barter Smarter... or Don't judge a pile of lumber by the top boards

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Project by maplerock posted 08-19-2014 08:37 PM 1873 views 4 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It has been a while guys…

They say we’re never too old to learn, and I learned a lesson last month. I got a call from a local fellow saying that he had a nice pile of lumber in his barn that he had to move immediately. He indicated that the lumber had been there for many years, and in fact his father had brought it from Pennsylvania when they moved here over 50 years ago.

“Primo stuff” he said,” Mostly cherry with some fantastic oak. I don’t want to let just anyone have it, you’ve been recommended as someone that could really do some amazing work with this wood.” My head swelled a bit, and I immediately envisioned beautiful clean, figured boards worthy of a master craftsman. “Sure” I told him, “Bring it over!” He came, and had a pickup about half full. The boards looked decent, and I started looking through the stack. Lots of cracks and some splintered boards. Still though, were some really pretty cherry 1×6’s and several 1×12 oak planks. When I didn’t jump right on it, he said, “I’ll tell ya what… just make me four things out of it and we’ll call it even. I have three brothers and sisters, and I’ll give it to them for Christmas.” He said the wood had great sentimental value. The family would cherish something made from it.

I agreed, and we unloaded it. That’s when I saw that lots of the wood was split. Kindling at best. Still, I had already made the deal. He went home happy, and I stickered the pile… shopping for boards to make him some boxes. Needless to say, the best wood in the pile went into his four boxes, and I will scrounge the rest to make a few of my own. There is still some nice oak though, and I’ll have a lot of cherry for splines and detail work.

Here are the resulting boxes. They are made 100% (except the plywood bottom) from the wood he brought. Cherry sides, cherry tops, and oak splines. All from his father’s wood. They came out nice. The cherry has a darker appearance than my usual stuff and will look even better with age.

I usually put suede in my boxes, but I figured these were already repayment enough, and the furniture grade plywood bottoms were finished like the rest of the boxes with tongue oil and three coats of wipe on poly. I used brass piano hinges and brass chains.

So, here they are. My trade for a pile of memories. I hope they enjoy the boxes. That’s really why I make them anyway… to make people happy. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome!

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

12 comments so far

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 2728 days

#1 posted 08-19-2014 09:29 PM

They look really nice Jerry. I hope you find more in the pile that make it worthwhile for your trade efforts. At least you did not have to go pick it up. He really got some nice boxes out of the deal…especially since he is obviously not a woodworker.

View pintodeluxe's profile


4825 posts in 2233 days

#2 posted 08-19-2014 09:38 PM

I have had 200 b.f. stacks of cherry that didn’t yield more than 100 b.f.
The quality of the lumber makes all the difference. Still, it doesn’t sound like you did too bad. I like the boxes, they came out great.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View maplerock's profile


521 posts in 1220 days

#3 posted 08-19-2014 10:28 PM

Thanks Greg & Willie. I also wanted to mention that I had started using gloss poly on many of my boxes. It looks good and is about $5 a quart cheaper than the satin. Lately though, my boss (wife, Linda) has decided she likes the satin finish better. These were all done inside and out with Minwax Wipe on Poly in the satin finish. It’s $22.41 per quart on Amazon with free shipping if you belong to Prime. The gloss is only $15.59. It looks great on most things, but a satin finish sure sets off the wood sometimes.

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

View R_Stad's profile


369 posts in 1263 days

#4 posted 08-20-2014 01:26 AM

Nice work Jerry. Always enjoy your craftsmanship, and well written narratives. Keep finding happy homes for your fine boxes.

-- Rod - Oregon

View OldWrangler's profile


731 posts in 1015 days

#5 posted 08-20-2014 03:04 AM

Nice boxes jerry. Clean design and well executed. In regards to your finish. Do you ever thin the Poly? I like how it flows better and dries quicker. It doesn’t seem to show any trace of the application. What do you think?

-- I am going to go stand outside so if anyone asks about me, tell them I'M OUTSTANDING!

View maplerock's profile


521 posts in 1220 days

#6 posted 08-20-2014 03:30 AM

Hey OldWrangler! Thanks. I have not thinned the poly. I like to apply it thin and use more coats. Thinning it sounds like a good idea though. By the way, I love the Annapolis area. I had two sons graduate there. It is a great place.

Thank you Rod! I appreciate your comments. I woodwork for fun. If I ever get serious about selling it will be a bonus. I need to though, my friends may give me an intervention if I put many more boxes in my house!

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

View Boxguy's profile


2122 posts in 1688 days

#7 posted 08-20-2014 04:04 AM

Jerry, I’d offer to intervene if I didn’t already have a house full of boxes myself. Great hear from you on this site again. These are beautiful and have a nice color. Good work!

Maybe you should have made him four spoons. They take about an hour to make and you just rub a little olive oil on them when you are done. Best of all, they don’t have hinges!

Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View sedcokid's profile


2713 posts in 3019 days

#8 posted 08-20-2014 09:39 AM

Never judge a book by its cover!! Nice work!

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View Tokolosi's profile


674 posts in 1775 days

#9 posted 08-20-2014 02:22 PM

Really elegant boxes. Good story too.

-- “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” ~ JRR Tolkien

View kenn's profile


807 posts in 3140 days

#10 posted 08-20-2014 03:25 PM

This brought a smile to my face. Over 15 yrs ago, I was at a Amish run auction and saw a stack go 5/4×4 boards. I was finishing off my basement and thought with the 16” length of those I would use them instead of 2×4s. The stack had bands around them. I won the bid and popped the bands to load them up. Yep, you are right, only the outer layer were 16”, the rest were all sorts of lengths. I did get almost enough for the basement walls but learned a lesson. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View doubleDD's profile


5057 posts in 1463 days

#11 posted 08-20-2014 04:31 PM

There’s always something in them there woods. Great build and trade and you can still make a few more things.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Roger's profile


19714 posts in 2224 days

#12 posted 08-25-2014 12:32 PM

Some fantastic boxes there Jerry. Mighty fine indeed.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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