Guest blog post: Sourcing a bar top [part two]

The next chapter in this ongoing saga is pretty interesting. Jason and I have been talking every few days about what I’m looking for where I might find it, and most importantly, how much it might cost.

A week or so before Christmas, Jason called me and suggested I take a drive out to a nearby sawmill to talk to a friend of his about some specialty wood.

Sawmills do a lot of of very standard and predictable work. Wood for shipping crates and such. Bar tops and specialty work isn’t common, but sometimes sawmills will cut unusual pieces. Calling them doesn’t really help. You never really know what you might find until you go see for yourself.

So my wife and I set out on an afternoon adventure to discover what great wood there might be outside of the city limits. I should mention that there really are no sawmills nearby. Jason and I have differing views on what “nearby” means.

Many miles and several GPS adjustments later, we arrived at our destination. Hey, I’m from Alabama and I’m pretty comfortable in most rural settings, but I’ve never felt quite so “city slicker” in my life. To say that the wife and I stood out among the atmosphere in and around the sawmill would be a mild understatement. We looked hilariously out of place.

And on top of that, I had no idea what to say as we walked into the office and someone kindly asked us what we wanted. They don’t get many visitors, it seems.

“I’m looking for a nice piece of wood for a bar top.” I even think my voice cracked when I said this. I began sweating.

“We have a lot of nice wood,” said the nice man who was now even more confused by my presence.

“Right. Do you know Jason?”

That was my cry for help. I threw in the towel after 30 seconds of awkward conversation. What I really wanted was someone to take me by the hand and walk me into a showroom, show me some wood samples and help me feel a little less like a complete idiot. Like they do at City Lumber. This didn’t happen. Instead, I stood and waited as my host told me that he’d suggest a piece of rough cut maple. He then handed me a sticky note with a price. A very reasonable price, I might add.

I thanked him and we left, blazing a trail back to the urban comforts of 35801.

My new friend’s suggestion of rough cut maple was fine. Maple is good wood if you’re building a table or cabinet for your home. It’s just not remotely unique enough for what will be the greatest retail beer and wine store in the South. Instead of sticking around the sawmill and explaining that fact, I felt better just calling Jason (once I got a signal) and telling him what happened.

Jason was great of course. We laughed a little about my special ability to turn most any normal situation into a socially awkward one. Then he said he wasn’t too surprised by my experience. Hunting unique wood at a sawmill is hit or miss.

Jason also mentioned something very important. He told me he was happy that I was taking this approach to finding the bar top. What I was interpreting as being very high maintenance, Jason saw as a huge positive. The fact that I was taking the time to get just the right piece would pay off, he said.

That’s very encouraging.

So it’s back to the drawing board on the bar top. I have a few more leads and Jason is right there with me to answer questions and, as I mentioned before, help me feel somewhat less ignorant about the whole process.

One thought on “Guest blog post: Sourcing a bar top [part two]

  1. Hey, Have you tried Hobby Hardwoods up in New Market. I found some unique ‘Curly’ Cherry there that I used to make a kitchen island top. They are run by a husband and wife team (engineers I think) and are used to talking to “City Slickers”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *