Eric Gustavson (right) and his son delivering wood to the shop. Eric started working with my father and me in the '70s. He and his son are wood millers in the central California Valley. He knows his woods – it is almost impossible not to want all the wood he brings out to the shop!
Much of the wood I use comes from re-planting of old growth trees for new crops, from construction sites taking over large tracks of land, from farmers wanting to make a little money off their old trees, from electrical wire trimming, and road maintenance, etc. I try to stay away from retail stores like McBeath because of expense. Although, they are a good source for species not local to California.
In the past, most of the wood we acquired was green wood, cut right from the tree. It would arrive in 2 1/2 inch flitches. The flitches would be cut from the same tree which allows us to bookmatch most projects. These flitches take about three years to dry, about an inch a year at our humidity level in the coastal fog zone. Until recently I have mostly stopped doing this because of the cost of buying the wood upfront and that I cannot dry the wood down to 12% humidity which preferable for furniture.
Today most millers are kiln-drying their own wood. Folks like Evan Shively at ARBORICA up in Marshall, California have been doing this for quite awhile. Anyone can mill wood, but knowing which woods to mill, and how to cut it, and how to cure it and store it seems to elude many millers. Evan knows how to cure it and he takes this process to an art form. He is one of the best and I am using his wood for many of my large projects today.
This is a very typical looking walnut tree planted 60 years ago along highway 99 near Red Bluff.
Walnut trees line highway 99 near Red Bluff.
Typical large bay laurel tree in California.
Bay laurel tree bark
Cypress cross section/ cut at ABORICA