The kindness of strangers

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Blog entry by scottb posted 10-25-2008 01:25 AM 1046 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Oh what a month for wood finds!

This summer I was sitting at the computer as I received a guild wide notification that a local church was replacing it’s pews – 12 foot long oak ones, if anyone was interested. I immediately replied, “if it wasn’t too late, could I get my name put on one?” (I’d figure out how to transport it later).

Yep, one was reserved for me, (should be available late Aug, early Sept), but after a few months I thought I missed the phone call when the time came to come and get em. Long story short, someone didn’t take as many as they requested and I now have two pews taking over my front porch! They were installed in the 50s, and are still in pretty good shape… eventually they’ll turn into a bench for the house, and a daybed for my daughters room, as well as several other projects… Eventually.

This week I finished a basement remodel for a retired woman (barely a stones throw from the same church) who’s late husband was a woodworker. After hearing about the dumpsters full of clutter that was cleared out before we began the job, I inquired about a some lumber in the corner of the former workshop – I spied a few natural edge slabs in a dark corner, presumed they were pine – she told me that they were black walnut that her husband was going to make a grandfather clock with. These were originally purchased from a sawmill in PA in the mid 50’s (so does that make it antique lumber?) . She was going to keep them, and I was glad to hear they weren’t going to be tossed out. She surely was aware of their worth. Hopefully she had a nephew or neighbor who’d do something with them.

Then, this morning she told that she had no one to give them to, and when she passed, they’d most likely be thrown away. So, if I would do something with them, then I could have them. I told her that I wouldn’t make a grandfather clock, but perhaps a Nakashima style, natural edge bench. And I certainly wouldn’t burn them. – no matter what happens to the price of oil. The kitchen table, and 70s era coffee table (pine stained to look like walnut) would keep me warm on a cold winter night, followed by green wood from the back 40, long before these old slabs.

the one on the left was dimensioned S4S, some years back, still a little rough, but pretty. One of the other two still has the bark on the edges.

Oh, did I mention, these were the 3 smallest slabs? Here are the 3 wider ones I had to go back for!

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

14 comments so far

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3362 days

#1 posted 10-25-2008 01:44 AM

Beautiful wood and it comes with it’s own history as well. I’m some nice pieces will come from that.

-- Working at Woodworking

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 3584 days

#2 posted 10-25-2008 01:51 AM

how wonderful and I’m sure that knowing you, my friend, you respect the story behind the wood as much as the wood itself.

perhaps you’ll find a way to record this story and keep it with the piece you create so the story can stay with the wood.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 3750 days

#3 posted 10-25-2008 02:43 AM

You know, Ms Debbbie, I have no desire to make a grandfather clock – just wouldn’t go in this house, style/scale wise… but, I was thinking about making a scale model of one, as a mantel clock, or for a dollhouse or something… that way the wood will, in one way become what it was always intended to be. That, and sooo much more.

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

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3191 days

#4 posted 10-25-2008 02:44 AM

Wow, I am happy for you and anxious to see them repurposed.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4010 posts in 3487 days

#5 posted 10-25-2008 03:00 AM

Excellent score, my friend!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Karson's profile


35032 posts in 3824 days

#6 posted 10-25-2008 04:09 AM

Scott: A friend bought a plan for a junior grandfather clock. I helped him build it. It mostly made from 1/2” wood. the plans are sold by Mark Sommerfeld at Sommerfeld tools

He bought the entire kit of templates and glass and brass shells.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View oldskoolmodder's profile


799 posts in 3103 days

#7 posted 10-25-2008 04:41 AM

MMMMM! Black Walnut!

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3309 days

#8 posted 10-25-2008 06:10 AM

Great deal!!!!!

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Clarence Oliver's profile

Clarence Oliver

3 posts in 2924 days

#9 posted 10-25-2008 07:49 AM

My dad (passed away) retired from the electronics industry and did woodworking. Guess it is in my blood as well. “IKE” hit us bad south of Houston, Texas. What hurt the most was a beautiful cedar tree that was three feet across, was blown over and then cut up and burned. I had no was to save any of it. It will take another 50 years or more to produce another one.


-- None yet

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 3730 days

#10 posted 10-26-2008 04:08 AM

Great story and find, I’m sure it will be put to good use, clock or no clock. Definately keep the story alive, if only a link to this post hidden somewhere on the final projects. Enjoy!

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1877 posts in 3095 days

#11 posted 10-27-2008 05:42 AM

I just love situations like that. Remember my mahogany find? I’ve started my Lolling Chair with that mahogany, just today!!! Great find Scott!! You’re starting to sound like me!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View TexPenn's profile


458 posts in 3111 days

#12 posted 11-03-2009 03:37 AM


-- Ted, TX or PA

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 3001 days

#13 posted 11-03-2009 04:22 AM

Very nice wood

-- Custom furniture

View Dusty56's profile


11804 posts in 3111 days

#14 posted 11-03-2009 04:50 PM

Nice find….Have you made anything with it yet ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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