This past April, we had unexpected visit from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Three Natural Resource Officers (NROs) – in full uniform – drove into our parking lot. Turns out they were looking for agents of logs. How did they figure we dealt with logs? Well, we’re listed in the Victoria Yellow Pages under ‘Millwork’. True story!! They thought we were a mill.
Nevertheless, this prompted us to ask questions and this is what we discovered. Compliance & Enforcement (C&E) is the law enforcement arm of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Its main purpose is to make sure that a variety of resource management laws are being followed on and in BC’s public lands, water and forests and to take action where there is non-compliance. They also have been designated as Special Conservation Officers, Land Officers, BC Parks Rangers and Fisheries Inspectors with the authority to enforce the associated legislation.
Lumber grading guidelines are very clear; however, the expectations of the purchaser and/or the realities of the project can be subjective. We have discovered a wonderfully written article by Dick Burrows on the “art” of buying lumber. It is an easy read, and clearly identifies the important issues for both the casual buyer and the experienced craftsman.
One of my woodworking specialties is the art of cajoling lumberyard workers into letting me sort through their lumber piles, looking for that perfect board for my next project. Sometimes I have to pout and threaten to take my big-time business elsewhere. Usually, though, I get permission simply by promising to restack everything when I’m done.
And so, I’ve spent many a morning working in another guy’s business, lining up about a quarter ton of lumber just to get a few boards that suit me.
I’ve met quite a few fellow woodworkers during these hunts. Some know exactly what they want, be it wood free of knots, splits, and ugly dark streaks, or that elusive “pretty board.” But others bypass all the sorting and just buy the top-read that as most expensive-grade available, whether or not they need it. There are times when the best grade is the best choice, but more often, you can save money and get the perfect wood for your project by using lower grades if you know a few basics about buying lumber.
Finding Diamonds in the Rough
The first thing you need to do is rid yourself of the idea that you have to use top-grade lumber or a perfectly clear board for everything you make. Most furniture makers don’t. They use fairly short or narrow pieces that can be cut from even the lower grades of lumber. You can, too. Just take the time to analyze the size and type of parts you need before you start.
April 30, 2015 – Exploring BC’s Millwork Industry: Beyond the Basics
Seminars, Demo’s and Factory Tour for the Vancouver Island Chapter of Architects
Partnered with Roy Manion, Manager, Specifiers Program of the BC Wood Specialties Group Hosted by West Wind Hardwood Inc Driven by Joel Radford and Shelley Nielsen Attended by 25 Architects and Designers from Southern Vancouver Island
This was both a challenge and a hoot for us. We’d never considered offering an on-site learning opportunity until Roy approached us. He nurtured us; coddled us; encouraged us. And it was a success, as born witness by this excerpt from the Vancouver Island Chapter of Architects’ Newsletter………
My father (1919-2013) was born with salt water in his veins. Boats were it for him. And although not formally trained as a naval architect he was a self-taught boat designer and member of the Society of Small Craft Designers. My childhood holds memories of him spending long evenings – night after night – hunched over his drafting table deep in the dungeon of our basement.
One of his customers was William (Bill) Smith – an airborne pilot and member of the BC Forest Service. Bill had a dream and came to dad. Together they came up with a design and a plan. Unfortunately, he contracted Lou Gehrig’s Disease and as I was still ‘knee high to a grasshopper’ my details are sketchy. I do however remember the hours both my Dad and Bill spent on this project. Sadly Bill died far too young before achieving his dream.
I do not recall what happened to Bill’s family or the boat – which was never finished. I do have a vague recollection of Margaret (Bill’s wife) finding a seller for the hull. As I was sorting through my dad’s boxes and file cabinets (I’m talking income taxes from 1957; utility bills from the 80’s) I did come across this photo (below right) and felt it deserved sharing.
We all have dreams. Certainly Jan has more than his fair share. Long may they live. And if we only see a quarter to closure, we are surely blessed.
Logger – usually refers to a number of workers whose job it is to harvest timber and bring it to a mill. The term “lumberjack” is similar to logger but is not used in BC. It is an eastern North American term.
Faller – Fallers are specialists who may have voluntarily become certified for this dangerous position. They are specifically trained to hand fall trees and are highly skilled.
Forester – usually refers to a Registered Professional Forester (RPF). Foresters have university degrees, or equivalent, specializing in forestry and have spent at least two years articling before passing a rigorous registration exam.
Tech or Technologist – usually refers to a Registered Forest Technologist (RFT). RFTs have a two-year college diploma, or equivalent, in forestry and have spent at least two years articling before passing a rigorous registration exam.
Accredited Timber Cruiser (ATC) – a cruiser is a specialist who is trained to accurately figure out how much and the quality of each tree species is available for harvesting. A cruiser has on-the-job training and must demonstrate competency before being allowed to use the title ATC. Note that RPFs & RFTs may also be ATCs.
Accredited Timber Evaluator (ATE) – a timber evaluator is a specialist similar to an ATC however, the timber evaluator has more experience and is able to supervise a team of cruisers. Like ATCs, ATEs must demonstrate their competency before being allowed to use the ATE designation. Note that RPFs & RFTs may also be ATEs.
This article is compliments of Paul Miller; Retired wood boat builder; Hobby furniture maker. Paul also writes for Lumber Jock (LJ) Blog as ‘Shipwright’.
“I love to think outside the box and I love to do things I’ve never tried before. Almost every project I start involves design as you go flexibility and at least a couple of things that I hope I can accomplish but that I’m not sure I can. I try to use local hardwoods when I can rather than commercial “store bought” material. I like that it gives a feeling of heritage to the piece.” PM
On a recent trip to Europe, Paul made a special visit to Les Fils de J. George in Paris. He says “to some Paris may be the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, or the palace at Versailles…………….
They are fine and I did see them but the real attraction for me this trip was an old building out on Rue Gallieni where some of the last sawn veneer in the world can be found. I won’t get into singing the praises of this stuff here but suffice to say that at about ten times the price of the common sliced veneer what we see here is pretty special.
About a month ago, we received an email from a supplier commenting on the strengthening US dollar and it’s affects on the increasing cost of lumber. This is an upward trend that is a double-edged sword for Canada; a country reliant on exports and a robust trading partner with the US.
“The Hardwood Review Weekly has had two recent articles that offer an explanation as to why lumber has been in tight supply and prices have been on an increase. Here is a condensed version covering their basic content:
“Overproduction No Longer Inevitable – Several Reasons Why Supply Won’t Overtake Demand Anytime Soon” by Andy Johnson, Editor
Jan and I have traveled north – beyond on the rapids – to The Broughton Archipelago on three occasions since 2004. We have always been the smallest, oldest and most wooden boat up there. It is a go-to destination for yachts, mega-yachts and super-mega yachts without a doubt.
Being ‘bookie’ people, we have quite a library aboard. We collect books on natural and cultural history, on local stories – from then and now and of course, the various boating bibles on the go-to destinations. If you read my articles, you’ll know we love to mix travel and timber-talk as much as possible…..and what better occasions to see the industry in action. These books spin a tale of hard work and the pioneering spirit, industry growth and decline…..and reinvention. Up in the Broughton’s, you can ‘live’ history.
By our customer and Victoria High Teacher, Stewart Wheeler
Victoria High School’s woodworking and construction program starts at the grade 9 level and gives student’s the opportunity to take up to 7 different courses by the time they graduate. In grade 9 students do a simple table -600mm long by 285mm wide by 440mm high out of pine or another inexpensive wood. They will also build a giftbox using a choice of different woods. In grade 10, students will do a detailed display table that introduces a variety of wood joints and techniques – biscuited mitres, mortise and tenon, pocket holes, dados, rabbets, cross laps. They will also be introduced to turning on the wood lathes by producing a simple bowl. The last required project is a box of their selection out of a “Box by Box” book from Lee Valley which has a range of boxes that vary in difficulty.
In grade 11 students further develop their skils by building a bow front pine table with a dovetailed drawer. Also in grade 11 students are introduced to house construction through small framing projects and client projects such as sheds or playhouses. n grade 12 students can specialize by taking courses in Furniture Construction – student choice projects, Cabinet Construction – (Tall Clock Project), and Residential House Construction – formwork and framing.
Students who choose 4 or more courses over their grade 10-12 years are offered the opportunity to sign up for the Career Preparation Carpentry/Joinery Program where they receive further funding for specialized projects and the opportunity to do work experience out in the community with various companies.
Students who excel in the Career Preparation Program are offered the opportunity to do their first year apprenticeship technical training in either Carpentry or Cabinetmaking/Joinery up at Camosun College during their final high school year.The tuition is covered by the district and students will by registered as apprentices through the ITA – Industry Training Authority.
This wood is my absolute favourite of favourites. Quite simply, it has a richness that speaks to my senses like a fine cognac long-aged in French oak barrels, or perhaps your preference is Grand Marnier. My kitchen cabinets are made from yew, as are many of our doors here at West Wind Hardwood, and upon returning from time away, I am always struck by how extraordinary this richly coloured, unique wood is.
There are many, many species of yew; one of the more common is English yew. The name “Yew” comes from the Proto-Germanic “īwa-“and with a possible origination from the Gaulish “ivos” referring to the colour brown. Our local species is known as Pacific yew, western yew, American yew, Oregon yew, bow-plant, mountain mahogany.