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!
Where do I obtain my wood and how do I store it? I rarely forage for my own wood. I usually call my friend, Eric Gustavson, and his son, wood millers who are part of the central valley neighborhood. They have been working with my father and me for over 40 years bringing woods to us from various parts of California.
Most wood is 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 slabs or flitches. Most all are cut from the same tree which allows us to book-match most projects. These flitches take about three years to dry, about an inch a year at our humidity level in the coastal fog zone.
Today most millers are kiln-drying their own wood, folks like Evan Shively up in Marshall. This definitely has its pluses and minuses. However, it does dramatically raise the price of wood – always a concern. I do a lot of steam-bending, which does not work well with kiln-dried wood, so I usually air-dry my own wood.
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