Monday, February 05, 2007

Lumber Yards


There is just something about an authentic lumber yard. I’m not talking Home Depot, Lowes, Lumbermans or Astoria Builders. These have all succumb to the newer is better business model. City Lumber is authentic. Manzanita Lumber is authentic. The old Cannon Beach Lumber in Cannon Beach was authentic.

I really enjoy a lumber yard that has worn and unleveled floors. I enjoy a lumber yard that has a dark basement with really worn floors, where the really special items are kept. I enjoy a lumber yard that is on the rail road line and that’s how their lumber used to arrive. I love the old storage buildings with dirty or broken windows. I love the barn swallows that build nests in the lumber storage sheds. Even though they shit on the hardwood, I love them any way.

The buildings of a lumber yard complex should always me made from lumber, not steel, concrete or fiberglass. Their lighting needs to be simple light bulbs in an industrial fixture or florescent tubes, not mercury vapor or halogen lamps.

I enjoy driving to three or four different buildings in the compound just to fill my order. I enjoy lumber yards that have loading docks. I enjoy lumber yards that smell like wood. I like it when you can look past the counter and see a giant safe back in the office. I enjoy lumber yards that have some cats living there. I enjoy lumberyards with items on their shelves that still have the price tags that were placed on those items decades ago.

12 Comments:

Blogger Beth said...

Sadly, our local lumber yard was demolished to make way for condos.
And that seems to be the way of the world these days...

7:47 AM  
Blogger Jaggy said...

Don't forget the people. I enjoy the nice man behind the counter with his red suspenders and sawdusty pants and faded t-shirt. :)

I grew up in Dad's woodshop, and the smell of lumber, of wood shavings, of varnish and stain, of dust and a little machine oil... that is one of the best smells on earth.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing I like best about City Lumber is that no matter what kind of do it yourself project you are attempting they give you special tips or call up one of the other guys who knows how to do it. You don't find that at Builder's Supply, where they make you feel lucky they decided to wait on you (if you are a woman that is.

8:45 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, it almost makes one wonder how they built them without a lumber yard. I know, I know, they got it from elsewhere, but there is a bit of irony there.

Jaggy, I too work with wood. Cooler yet I had some of the trees from my property milled. I feel a special bond with the wood I work with.

Anonymous, right on! I agree totally. I have tried on several occasions to special order things at Builders Supply, both Astoria and Gearhart. I try to spread my money around to all local shops, but they never get what I order, and they tell me they have no record of ordering, or they tell me it is no longer available after I've been waiting for two weeks or more. After each disappointment I went to City Lumber, and they always got exactly what I wanted within two days.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

Ahh, lumber...brings to mind my days working in a cedar sawmill in New Westminister BC. Man was that stuff heavy.

One of my most funny man am I stupid moments in life was there. I was in dire need of a job and when applying at "Junction Lumber", I lied about my work experience. Not a problem as the foreman hired me and put me to work with this old guy stacking lumber for the kiln. All went well until about two weeks later when the foreman came out to the yard and told me I was going to work on the green chain.
Now for the uninitiated, the green chain is this large surface with chains that the planks roll down after they have been sawed. You're supposed to pull and stack the wood in piles according to size and width. He handed me a leather apron to wear for protection. This apron is split in the middle with a couple of straps for fastening at knee level.
As he stood before me, I took the apron and never having seen one before, I proceeded to try and cram my head through the straps that are meant for your knees. Needless to say, it was not going to get by my ears and I was losing some of my ample hair as I tried to get it to fit. By the expression on the foreman's face, I was quite able to surmise that I was making a fool of myself. He did chuckle though as he showed me how to put it on. Still thinking on my feet as I explained to him that the trees back east were not as big as the west coast trees and we did not use aprons back there. I'm sure he believed me...yeah...right. I still chuckle when I think about it. It's right up there with some real boners I have pulled off.

2:38 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

And you still have all your limbs, eh? I knew a fellow who pulled green chain. He was super fit and it was a nasty job.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

Fit? Like a brick shithouse! Nasty? Really hard work and especially nasty when you pulled a shift with two Pakistanis on either side who,I swear, eat nothing without curry.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

We, who live in the House of Perpetual Construction, adore City Lumber. My husband knows that if he sends me there with a note, I will come back with exactly what he wanted. I was worrying about the Warrenton Home Depot to my husband and he says that City Lumber won't go under because of a place like that, it's just that special. I hope he's right, and I think he is!

5:46 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

I need to find one of those lumber yards...don't think I've driven far enough out yet

8:26 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Moosehead, I bet you gave them a run for the money with your diet of back bacon and whale blubber.

Mo3, I hope you are right. They will continue to get my support.

Lee, you mean none are left in the Carolinas? Dang the only thing you have of the old days is Pepe at the border...

4:55 AM  
Blogger lori hahn said...

Wow...odd you wrote about this. Saturday, I had to get some lumber and was dreading a trip to Home Depot. Ranks right up there with a trip to Walmart. I was driving back from an out of town volunteer thingie and decided to take a little detour through a neighboring town to see what they might have. Sure enough...there was a full size, full service hardware store and large lumber yard. The staff had all worked there for 90 years, knew everything, I had no trouble finding anyone to help me and they had my lumber. Of course, I paid $7 for a board that would have cost me $4 at HD, but I thought it worth every single penny...and the smell of lumber still lingers. As I get older, I've decided sometimes it's worth it to pay the extra and get the service, convenience, and not fight the crowds...

6:44 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Lori, you can't beat the value added aspect of a real lumber yard.

7:58 AM  

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