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From the bench: Present of lumber, present of meals

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Not all the things that got here out of the pandemic was dangerous; I not solely acquired extra time within the store, but additionally the best wooden haul of my life—a present that may profit many woodworkers and feed scores of hungry households.

Throughout the pandemic, my spouse began volunteering at a neighborhood meals pantry linked to St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Amenia Union, N.Y. Over time, I turned a volunteer, too, packing, unloading, and delivering groceries.

Additionally throughout this time, just a few cherry bushes had fallen on my property and I needed to chop them into lumber. Coincidentally, the church needed to lower down some giant walnut bushes to make manner for a brand new constructing. I requested the church warden what they have been doing with their bushes. She stated they’d been posting them on Craigslist to be taken away totally free. It was a superb factor I used to be carrying a masks, as a result of it stored my jaw from hitting the ground. These logs have been 30-in.-plus in diameter, completely branchless and knot-free, and greater than 10 ft. lengthy. Most woodworkers would have been proud of the “small” 12-in.-dia. limbs mendacity round. I requested her to offer me just a few weeks to determine the best way to transfer them.

I shortly discovered Jeff Olsen, a sawyer with a transportable mill. Given my estimate of 10 to fifteen logs, he thought it will take about 20 hours. I organized to have somebody with a front-loader with a grapple hook and a flatbed truck meet me on the church. He took one take a look at the logs and referred to as one other flatbed to assist transfer the logs to my property. As a substitute of 10 to fifteen logs, we had near 40, together with my cherry. Twenty hours of milling was not going to chop it.

To do the milling, Jeff wanted no less than one different individual, if not two, to assist. I referred to as some native woodworker mates, and we took turns serving to Jeff wrangle 2-ton logs, load them on the machine, and unload boards, all of the whereas making an attempt to not kill ourselves or crush limbs. We largely succeeded.

“I not solely acquired extra time within the store, but additionally the best wooden haul of my life—a present that may profit many woodworkers, and maybe most significantly, feed lots of of hungry households.”

And the boards! We studied every chocolate-colored walnut board with marvel, constructing magical Nakashima-style benches in our minds. The salmon-colored cherry boards sparked the identical sorts of daydreams—of two-piece tabletops that we’d by some means deal with although they have been too extensive for our 12-in. jointers. Even after the 1,000th board was sawn we stored speaking and imagining, whereas Jeff waited impatiently for us to take it off the mill.

milled lumber

After six days of milling, we have been drained, as much as our knees in sawdust, and had solely accomplished about half of the logs. I spotted I wanted extra assist. I referred to as each woodworker I knew—from Maine to Maryland—asking them to return and assist, and to see in the event that they needed to purchase a few of the walnut and cherry. The deal was easy—pay 1 / 4 of what the wooden would price in a business yard and donate the cash to the meals pantry. Should you didn’t assist with the sawing and stacking, it was one other $1 per board foot. Both manner, a implausible worth for the standard of lumber.

Extra woodworkers answered the decision. I invited them to a “stacking get together” and the reverend and others from the church got here to look at and assist. We moved, stacked, and stickered boards, and the lumber offered itself—though even with lots of of board toes offered, the piles didn’t look any smaller.

That wooden made everybody pleased. Over time (and it could be years), if I can promote all 10,000 board toes, the church will be capable to use that cash to feed 50 to 60 households for a yr. Some woodworkers, like myself, who may by no means have bought boards like that are actually going to construct bigger items than they’d dreamed.

I’m not non secular, however COVID-19 has made me imagine in karma. I’ve no perception into how the universe operates—I don’t even understand how a microwave operates—however I imagine should you assist others, you assist your self. You probably have the power, and a chance to assist comes up, go for it. You might even find yourself with a implausible pile of wooden.

Zal Sarkari is an novice woodworker who plans to specialise in cherry and walnut to any extent further.

From Effective Woodworking #292

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