For me, woodworking tourism is the best kind of tourism, though I resist dragging my family along when I go to lumberyards, museum exhibits or auctions. I want them to remember me fondly when I’m dead.
Luckily, these days I have Brendan Gaffney working alongside me in the shop, and he’s always up for a ridiculous day trip. This week we went to Amish country in north-central Ohio to visit a tool store, some lumberyards and – most importantly – Keim Lumber.
Keim is about a three-hour drive from Cincinnati, so it’s a bit of a stretch to shop there regularly. But I’ve heard so much about the place during my life here that I had to visit it. What is Keim? It’s a lumberyard and home center that caters to the furniture maker and high-end carpenter.
The lumber section, for example, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Keim stocks both domestic and exotic species that you’d be hard-pressed to find, such as Tree of Heaven, Osage Orange, Butternut, Sassafras and a couple dozen others. On the exotic side, the stock was equally amazing. I’m not into exotics, however, so I didn’t retain a lot of the species names (you can browse the inventory here).
What is equally impressive is how the lumber is presented. Every board is beautifully planed with no tear-out and then drum-sanded. Yup, drum sanded.
The tool section is equally impressive, though it is geared to professional furniture makers with production equipment. Keim carries several lines of machines, such as SawStop, Jet and Rikon. But where the store really shines is in all the shop supplies and accessories. They have every sawblade imaginable, an entire aisle of sanding supplies and deep inventory on handheld electric tools. Plus they do repairs.
There’s an impressive section of hardware, though most of it is geared to the production woodworker (though they had Acorn strap hinges). Plus a huge section for finishing (5-gallon buckets of boiled linseed oil).
And there were entire sections of the store we didn’t explore, such as the custom millwork area.
Oh, and the prices were considerably lower than in the city.
If you are ever passing near Charm, Ohio, I highly recommend a visit to Keim. We’re already planning a return trip to the area to visit some additional lumberyards in the area.
— Christopher Schwarz