Good Wood is Like Good Glue


This morning I finally cut into the stack of Port Orford cedar I’d purchased to build a Japanese sliding-lid box.

I picked up the stock at Northwest Timber while I was working out in the Portland, Ore. area and the company shipped it back home for me. (I wrote a blog entry about Northwest here.) I bought enough cedar for a single box with a typical amount of waste when I am purchasing good wood.

During my tour of Northwest, I was quite impressed by the quality of stuff the company sells. Every splinter of it is primo, photographed on the web site and ready to ship. Yes, it’s pricy compared to buying it from a typical lumberyard. But Northwest is no typical lumberyard.

Even though I knew the stock was perfect, I was surprised that I was able to easily get two sliding-lid boxes out of the four sticks. I had expected to get one box and a few extra parts. So the cost per board foot was effectively slashed in half. And because I’ll have two boxes to sell, It’s a big win all around.

Definitely check out Northwest if you are looking for figured or specialty woods. I have them bookmarked.

Back to the shop.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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13 Responses to Good Wood is Like Good Glue

  1. fitz says:

    Now I want to come sniff your, er, pieces of lumber.

    • Joel says:

      I used to work at a lumberyard in Oregon and I would regularly sniff the cedar… and the white oak, I find that one really nice too.

      • fitz says:

        Port Orford cedar is the best smelling wood I’ve ever sniffed (by which I mean nothing salacious). I’d wear that scent.

        • The smell is fine. But I prefer its other qualities. It’s lightweight, very strong and works beautifully with hand tools. It’s like few other woods I’ve encountered. (King William pine and huon pine are remarkably similar.)

  2. Is that all quartersawn?

  3. I had no idea the stuff was the light in color. It almost looks like clear white pine. Is it aromatic?

  4. tpier says:

    I thought Lewis was blowing smoke up your skirt when he said all the surface irregularities were shallow. Those boards are fantastic!

  5. ramseyguitars says:

    I’ve used Port Orford for several of my guitar tops. I love everything about it, the sound, the look, the feel, the workability, and of course the smell! The first time I used it I found myself going out to my shop in the evening just to smell it.

  6. jkvernier says:

    The shop I worked in in SoCal got in some Port Orford cedar for a house interior project, and I bought some boards to make a small wall cabinet for myself. When I open it the scent makes me homesick. I also did some remodeling in a house with 100 year old POC paneling, and was surprised that the stuff was as tough as nails after it has seasoned for that long, despite it being so delicate when fresh-cut.

  7. Rob Porcaro says:

    Hey Chris,

    I heartily agree on both matters! Lewis at NW Timber is absolutely the man for great wood, and has been my favorite supplier for high-end stock for many years.

    Quartersawn P.O. cedar, especially the tight-grain stuff that Lewis sells, is wonderful. Its peaceful look reminds me of a Japanese Zen garden. I find, however, that its softness makes it actually more difficult to work for joinery, compared to, say, walnut, because it crushes easily. Of course, it planes super easily. Left unfinished for interior parts such as panels and drawers, I assure you that the spicy aroma will stay alive for years!


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