Week of July 12, 2010 - I fly to Sacramento and head up to Woodland, CA. I'm loving the name and I know there's tons of walnut in the area from a previous visit a couple years ago. I start digging and end up hooking up with a guy who has a firewood company. I've had some decent firewood pile finds (Osage Orange, spalted ash, etc) so I drive over to 8320b (barn) Hazel Ave. Orangevale, CA 95662.
Turns out his big business is natural pest control products (like ladybugs, praying mantis, etc). The guy was nice enough. He had some milled lumber air drying in a barn and TONS of wood lying around that was suitable only for firewood <whimper>. Firewood guy's prices were high and he wasn't interested in making a deal for something small. I ended up buying a chunk of camphor log from him for $10. I'm thinking it wasn't much of deal, but, what the heck. I'll get it home and mill up some camphor wood and have something to play with from this trip. I wanted to grab a chunk of acacia too, but… shrug. I'm glad I ended up not wasting any more time on this one, because a LJ post I made led me to John Ormsby
, a contractor and fellow lumberjock in the Sacramento area.
I went by to visit John, was blown away by his shop, and ended up having dinner with him and his wife. Talk about nice folks. I intended to stay maybe half an hour and ended up visiting with them for 5! I also ended up making off with an off cut of quilted maple that John was kind enough to throw my way. Another piece that demands pics when I get home.
It's pretty funny that John was constantly saying his shop was a mess and not fit for company. I'm using my entire two car garage and am crammed in so tight that moving around is hazardous. It was so spacious and well laid out in his shop that I'm seriously going to have to rethink my layout. Of course with 4-6 times my space…. Anyway - Kudos to the Ormsby's for kindness to a stranger, sharing some great shop tips, and a great evening. If you need restoration or contractor work done in the Sacramento area, definitely look John up. The pics he showed me of the restoration jobs he's directed or worked on were beautiful.
Amusingly enough, John turned out to be within a couple miles of the firewood guy I visited the day before. They had met and John wasn't impressed with the lumber/prices either. I think the general impression was "We can buy good stuff from Cook's up in Oregon for about the same price, so why risk ungraded local air-dried at that price?"
I had one more evening to kill before my flight home so I made a few more calls and ended up meeting up with Frank Sieferman, Jr.. Frank's a great guy (semi-retired arborist) with a sawing problem. He has more chainsaws than I've ever seen in one place barring stores and repair shops. I mean I think his chainsaws when combined might have more horsepower than my four door Chevy S10 pickup! That combined with a Timber King mill and a passion for sawing wood to bring out its best character means I thought I was dead and in heaven for an afternoon/evening.
Frank treats the ends of all his logs with anchorseal and Timbor (or some equivalent Powderpost Beetle/Insect control). The vast majority of his lumber is quartersawn and has NICE figure. I ended up coming home with some "scrap" pieces of walnut, California sycamore, elm, and eucalyptus. I've played with sycamore before, but the figure on the stuff he had was amazing. It looked more like lacewood than sycamore. I guess a big part of it is paying close attention to cutting parallel to the ray structure in the trunk cross-section.
I've already taken a bit of that walnut and sycamore and am working on a travel case for my small screwdriver set so I've got a "show and tell" piece. Talk about some bling! I'm definitely posting pics when I'm done.
Frank's got a pretty nice shop setup and while he's not a woodworker per-se, he's got a guy named Josh who looks like he's got some talent.
Again, Frank had met firewood guy and wasn't impressed. He was there on a day when another guy with a wood mizer was there sawing up an acacia log and "maybe" saved it from being butchered. I say that with reservations, because none of firewood guy's lumber has the endgrain sealed and I doubt he's doing any pest control despite being in the natural pest control business (should I laugh or cry?).
So Sacramento was the most fun I've had on a trip in ages. I'm looking forward to more sawmill adventures.
And if anyone wants Frank's contact info, send me a message and I'll message it to you. If you're in the Sacramento area, it's (IMHO) very worth a trip up to Zamora to have a look at his lumber and logs. It's not the cheapest stuff out there, but I was impressed with how much good quality wood he has.