What an adventure yesterday was! I am very happy to be back home here safe and sound. We headed out just after 5 am and we didn’t make it back home here until almost 10 pm. Even though it was a long day, it seemed to go by very quickly. The only negative part of the day was the persistent rain, which doesn’t look as if it is going to stop until Thursday or Friday from the looks of the weather map.
We knew that rain was predicted for the day, but we didn’t expect the quantity that we experienced. We left quite early to allow ourselves ample time for the errands we planned. I had mentioned previously how the highway was not optimal for these weather conditions, so we were extra cautious and drove well under the speed limit. We stopped in Digby to unload our previous days’ acquisition and make room for what wood we would be purchasing yesterday. After a quick breakfast in Digby, we headed out. We didn’t make it to Halifax (or Dartmouth, if you will) until nearly 11 am. Although the rain was not particularly hard, it was constant and by the time were a couple of hours out we realized that we just had to be slow and careful. Gratefully, it seemed that everyone else on the highway felt the same. Even the trucks were going much slower than normal and it seemed that everyone was using caution.
We went to our usual place, East Coast Hardwood in Dartmouth and picked a modest amount of wood up. There was not much Walnut in wider widths, but we did find a nice 7 inch wide board that was about 3 feet long in the scrap pile. We also picked up some Sapele and some more Hickory from them. We held off a bit, because we knew we had another place to try and were armed with price lists from both. Some of the wood was cheaper there and some was more expensive, so we had the luxury of choosing the best from each. We hadn’t been to the other store previously however, so we weren’t quite sure what to find. Although geographically the other wood supplier was not that far away, we had to travel through snarling traffic and cross the bridge to get from place to place so we didn’t really want to have to come back.
The new store we were going to visit was Halifax Specialty Hardwoods in Bedford. We found them to be another fine supplier of many of the exotic woods that we liked to work with. They were also quite helpful and friendly. Although their selection was quite a bit smaller as far as quantity of each board, I felt that the quality of the boards that they did have there seemed overall to be higher. They also had many more species of smaller pieces which were already dressed, but the prices for this additional attention to the wood were evident and a bit higher than the rough cut boards. They also were not as willing to sell smaller cuts off of the larger boards, as they wanted us to take the entire lengths.
For example, we saw a 10” wide walnut board which was about 9.5 – 10 ft long. Both ends had some cracking on them but overall the board was very nice and dark and had a good grain and little twisting. We inquired if we were going to be charged full price because of the ends and we had intended to only take about 6 feet of the boards. We needed the boards cut to approximately 3 feet each so they would fit on the back seat of the mustang. The man who helped us happily took the board back to the saw and told us that he would take off for the damaged part of the board. When he returned, he put all three boards in our pile. It was understood without saying that we bought the entire board. It was fine with us though as we were just about out of walnut and could always use some and the price was good. It was just a bit different from the other place where they would be happy to cut a couple of feet off a larger board and sell you only that.
I also purchased some wenge and some aspen. I had been able to obtain aspen when I lived near Chicago and I loved the even grain and light color of the wood. I loved to scroll it as it cut very easily yet held up fairly well to fretwork. It would be ideal for some of the projects I had in mind. It was also very reasonably priced, as I got a couple of 3 ft boards for under $10 each. The wenge was a bit more expensive, but still a little cheaper than at East Coast. I found a nice board that was about 9” wide and got a 2 ft length of it. I like the look of wenge very much and although I realize it is not suitable for all kinds of scroll sawing, I do have some applications in mind for it that will be nice.
One of the most interesting woods that they carried was what they called ‘roasted birch’. I had not heard of or seen this species before and I inquired about it. The woman there told me that it was regular birch that was in fact roasted to achieve a dark brown color. I felt it was very pretty, with a rich brown hue. The grain was tight and even as birch is, and the color was very similar to dark brown walnut with very little variation. Although I love beautiful figure in wood, there are times when cutting fretwork that it is lost in the design and can look too busy. I was told that due to the roasting process, the wood is very stable and will not cup or move and is a bit more brittle than regular birch. I think it will work beautifully for several projects I have in mind and I also am going to try to slice it thin so that I can make some overlays. The stability will definitely be an asset and the brittleness will not be a problem – especially if I am using it in this way as an overlay. It may also make some nice boxes and I shouldn’t have to worry about cupping. It will be interesting.
So all in all it was a great day. We are very much set for the winter and I don’t see the need or have the desire to return to the city until spring. The ride home was a sobering reminder that within in a few weeks I will need to park my car for the winter. On the way home, there was a portion of the highway closed off and we had to be rerouted though the secondary roads because someone slid off the road and the car went down into what looked like about a 30 foot ditch. We could see them pulling it up from the secondary road which ran parallel to the highway at that point and it didn’t look good. Later on when we were at Bernie’s dropping off our wood, we mentioned it to them and they had said that they heard about it too and there was one fatality. That really made me sad, as I couldn’t help but think of my own incident which I had told you about previously.
As I said, we drove very slowly and carefully and took our time. At times the rain was so hard we could barely see more than a couple of car lengths in front of us. Again, we were well under the limit and happy that the other drivers were also being cautious. Besides the rain, there were powerful gusts of wind that came up suddenly and pushed the car from the side. You can imagine how happy I was to be back home safely.
We will go to Bernie’s one day this week and work a bit on the new wood. We have decided not to dress it all right now, as some of it will be better left as is until we really have a use or project in mind. Besides, our room here is limited anyway and we are also getting filled here to capacity.
Today I will continue on with finishing up the skater figures. The stands are dry and I will probably spend the day painting them and gluing them on and adding the snow tex. I also came home to lots of emails – many which need a response. I think I have had enough adventure to last me a while and I will enjoy staying close to home the next several days and getting some work done. It is supposed to rain until Friday or so anyway.
Although it was nice to get out and get some wood, it is a great day to be home.
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"