Though I’ve shopped at Frank Paxton lumber for almost 20 years, I’ve never been asked the following question. Until today.
“I’ve got to ask,” the clerk said. “What the heck are you building with this wood?”
Since starting work on the “Furniture of Necessity” book, my lumber purchases have gotten a little weird. Instead of combing through the racks of 4/4 and 5/4 boards, I simply ask: “What’s the thickest and widest stuff you have back there?”
The answers have been surprising and illuminating.
I’ve found that many professional lumberyards stock surprisingly thick stock for custom home builders – I’ve been buying lots of 4”-thick poplar. Another great source of thick material has come from asking about the stock that local builders purchase for fireplace mantles.
Today I picked up a 12/4 board of white oak destined for fireplace mantles that was 20” wide, 9’ long and $2.67 a board foot. It was dressed on two faces (whew), and it surprisingly wasn’t the biggest sucker in the pile.
This will become the top to a portable table from the “Tacuinum Sanitatis” that illustrates how drunkenness can get out of hand. I think the image looks like a frat party because of the red Solo cups.
The table will have five or six legs and a thick, round top. Like my other pieces from the 15th century, this one will be as portable as possible. The legs can be knocked home and removed with a mallet (or wine bottle). To get your party started all you have to do is roll the tabletop into the woods, drive the legs into their conical mortises and flip the whole thing over.
— Christopher Schwarz