While I have been involved with wood for quite some time now, it was mostly in the form of home improvement tasks. Manipulating 2×4’s, dog-eared fence posts, laminate flooring, and all other activity that is linked to owning a house and not wanting to pay others to add, fix, or repair what is technically yours was as deep as I got.
After falling into building guitar tube amps I realized that I needed to have an enclosure to carry the amps once the electronics were wrapped up. Cutting box joints with my mom’s router and eventually getting my first table saw (the cheapest Skil Lowe’s could sell me) replaced the notion that I had to buy what instead could be made. So, after a couple of simple (and ultimately, uncompleted) Christmas gifts, I was off.
However, two problems immediately arose that would shape how I would work. First, since our house only provided a single car garage, space was going to be an issue. Second, living in a less than ideal woodworking region drastically reduced options on the most important part of this craft: wood. I addressed the first issue in part by mixing hand tools and power tools.
Hand tools reduced the shop size requirement and allowed me to work without much noise. An extra bonus as nearly all of my woodwork occurs after children are asleep. The next problem is how to get lumber.
The reality is I don’t live in some picturesque, bucolic state with lush hardwood forest surrounding our house. I live in Florida. We have pines, scrub, sago palms, and imported palm trees (that’s right, no matter what the city planners want you to think, palm trees are not indigenous here).
For a comparison, Roy Underhill lives in an 18th century mill in a forest.
There are two lumber yards in town and they sell southern yellow pine, treated or not, and other construction supplies. One does sell cupped, twisted, and bowed S4S maple, walnut, and ash for almost offensive prices but I have yet to find a project for which I can use such exquisite material. Luckily, I have the Internet at my disposal.
From hours of searching, I think the closest lumber yard is 4 hours away. And ordering online is great but wood is heavy and shipping adds a nice premium to the project. This with random Craig’s List finds is how I have been trying to overcome supplying my needs.
So let me welcome you to the land of no flea market tool finds, no tool swap meets, and an endless sea of yellow pine trees. This is not the woodworking the magazines tell you about. It’s Florida, it’s hot, and it’s what I have for now. Let’s make do and make some furniture.