The Tables at TRATA

Back in the late 1990’s, we procured some of the most amazing timbers in North America. Quite different from the large timbers salvaged from warehouses and factories, these were used to form the lock gates on the Welland Canal which held back Lake Erie.

On the rails laid through the canal for construction, a pair of cranes flank a 50 foot flat car and lift a single timber into position.

That is not a typo. You can see for yourself in the above photo, the sheer size of the gates as they were being constructed. While we were used to big sticks, these behemoths were like nothing anyone had ever seen — 37″ x 42″ x 45′ in length, in a single piece of Douglas Fir.

Timing is everything, and our sister company, New Energy Works, was just getting into the construction of a restaurant with a nautical theme, Steamboat Landing in nearby Canandaigua, NY. All but two of these beasts were used in that project, right down to the sideboards being cut into trim around the windows & doors. The last two timbers remained here at our shop, waiting to be used in a form that would respect their size and the trees in Western Canada from where they were harvested.

Two timbers + plenty of bolts = a single truckload.

Earlier this year, we cut a length off for shipment to our shop in Oregon and we were reminded of how unique and special these timbers really are. After being submerged for nearly 100 year the colors and staining through the timbers were nothing short of magical.

Try to count the rings – on some of the timbers, we lost count somewhere well past 300.

Not long afterward, a great client of mine came by and we were discussing the perfect slabs to use for tables in his new restaurant. We thought about some large joists from a barn, but they weren’t big enough. Huge timbers from a warehouse would look fantastic and have a great story to tell, but again, they just didn’t have the girth he wanted from a single slab. Then I remembered the Welland Canal timbers. We hadn’t even gotten within arms length and he already knew these were perfect.

After cutting a section off the main timber, we used an Alaskan Mill to slice the pieces to rough thickness.

The huge bolts which were used to mount a 12″ thick “bumper” left significant staining through the entire timber.

Once rough-cut, they were planed down to the finished thickness, leaving the edges just as they had aged. A crew of many unloaded and set the slabs onto their steel bases on the site, then sanded and finished the pieces to perfection. The results speak for themselves:

Table for twelve, please.

 

At 5 1/2″ x 29″ x 120″, they’re the largest single slabs we’ve ever cut for a table, making a perfect compliment to the rugged tones of our barn siding within the restaurant. Rounding out the decor (pun intended), thick, curved wine barrel staves were used to create an accent on the wall as you enter the space. If you’re in Rochester, stop by TRATA, The Restaurant At The Armory, and check out the fruits of our labor over some fantastic cuisine and a lovely beverage. Don’t be afraid to stare at those tables — they’re hard to miss.

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Reclaimed in Style at Doc Magrogan’s

Kevin Vickery, our Mid-Atlantic Representative, shares a recent restaurant project from PA:

University of Pennsylvania students are excited now that Doc Magrogan’s Oyster Bar has opened in the heart of the campus. I recently had the opportunity to work with the owner of Doc’s and his team on incorporating reclaimed wood into their restaurant.

The theme for the space, as described by the owner, was “a combination of an old tavern mixed with very clean and crisp beach cottage, while maintaining a trendy feel to this upscale location”.

Our reclaimed grey barn siding was a great solution to the main bar walls. The century old barn wood provided the grey tones and lighter colors in varying widths, which instantly brings the customer impressions of a waterside cottage.

In the dining room, Doc’s team had us build railing panels from our reclaimed Indonesian Hardwoods, Trade Winds.A perfect fit for an oyster restaurant since this wood is salvaged from the shipping industry. The exterior of the wood shows all the signs of the rough sea life it endured as it crossed the Pacific Ocean: metal strapping marks, scuffs, dings, and occasional nail holes.

But Doc’s didn’t stop there.After the team at Doc’s realized what beautiful wood lies directly below the surface of the weathered exterior of the shipping hardwoods, they decided to have us construct table tops. We planed down the Trade Winds hardwood shipping stock to reveal brighter, cleaner versions of the various species with colors ranging from deep red-browns, blondes and tans, to light oranges and soft reds.

In addition to the reclaimed wood, Doc’s added many accessories such as a canoe hanging from the ceiling, old nautical pictures, and antique oars to truly accomplish the theme. My opinion: Mission Accomplished!

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Do The Twist…

Reclaimed wood comes in all different shapes and sizes. When it arrives in our yard, our job is to craft something meaningful from those materials. In many cases, we take advantage of the natural patina of age, whether it be a weathered gray or brown, faded old paint, even old stains from wine & vinegar. But other times, the wood is re-sawn, cleaned up, re-milled and used more because of the inherent environmental benefits, with the character from previous use becoming an added visual bonus. Such is the case with these funky fixtures we’re working on in the shop:

Canopy Assembly — Normally twisted wood is a bad thing, but not in this case.

Canopy Assembly — Normally twisted wood is a bad thing, but not in this case.

The designers envisioned a flowing, segmented series of strips that would form a graceful and twisting curve. While 3-D models looked pretty cool, once our shop built the prototype, we were able to see just how amazing these would look. Made from reclaimed Oak, this will be an overhead canopy for a kiosk, with a similar concept used on the front panel.

Front Panel — Finished and ready to ship.

Front Panel — Finished and ready to ship.

The stains, nail holes, and other character marks make an impact for certain, but the design takes the front seat in these truly unique pieces. This kind of collaboration is what sets Pioneer Millworks apart – we speak design, we can understand your vision, and we work to develop solutions to make that vision come to life no matter how twisted it might be.

Stay tuned for some finished photos in the coming months — thanks for checking in.

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Reclaimed Wood and NYC

While Jered was traversing NYC to meet with folks and look in on a few projects he kept us up-to-date (have to love technology!) with photos. Here are a few from his stops:

Chobani, NYC
On his way to meeting with potential clients, Jered stopped by the new (and only) Chobani yogurt store. He charmed his way in the door even as they were preparing for a commercial photo shoot. Some of our redwood, salvaged from a Finger Lakes winery, has new life as the fixtures and ceiling paneling in the shop. It really looks stellar!

Steve Madden, Broadway NYC
Jered made another quick stop to the newest Steve Madden store capturing a few images of our Grandma’s Attic mixed softwoods flooring and antique grey barn siding on the walls. The contrast of the antique wood with the LED shelf display lighting (see image below) is a perfect example of old melding with new. To think that in the past this antique wood handled whatever Mother Nature and farm animals dished out…today it faces a new challenge: shoe obsessed humans.

Sunburnt Calf, NYC
Speaking of wood that has dealt with animals, Black & Tan, Black reclaimed horse farm fence boards now offer protection to the exterior waiting area at the Sunburnt Calf bar/restaurant. Don’t worry, the black paint was traced back to its original source and was found to be an environmentally friendly, waterborne polymer. It is a non-toxic, non-flammable, solvent free, low VOC waterproof coating used in agricultural settings and safe for use around farm animals…and hungry folks.

Chevron Pattern, NYC

We’ve been salvaging flooring and bleachers from educational institutions that are re-vamping their gymnasiums. Some of the bleacher boards have made their way to the floor in an interesting chevron pattern. All of the original aisle numbers, paint markings, bolt holes, dings, dents, and scuffs were maintained in this floor. The only thing missing is the old gum stuck to the bottom – our prep crew had fun scraping it off! (We heard that Juicy Fruit continued to offer a recognizable scent. Now that is long lasting.)

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