I recently completed installation of some new counter tops in my kitchen renovation at home. After seeing some of our bowling alleys being cut down for tables in a restaurant, I knew they would be perfect.
The angled holes from the old lag bolts are visible at the edges, along with a shimmering steel cleat that became exposed during sanding. Did you know bowling alleys are nailed together one strip at a time?
The colors play well from the nearly-black dark brown cabinets, the tile, and the rich leathery tones of the flooring. Talk about durable – 2 1/4″ of solid hard Maple finished with a butcher block oil – these will hold up for generations, and only get better with age.
The light tone of the Maple helps to brighten the space and balance out the darker colors.
The foul line markings were positioned at the end of the slab over the bookshelves where they are easily noticed, along with the collection of Alton Brown books.
We’ve got a lot more of these here at Pioneer Millworks, in both Maple and Heart Pine. Want a counter top with a story to tell? Give us a call – we’ll make sure your project scores a perfect 300.
Mineral & wine stains, natural color variations, and clean grain makes reclaimed wine vat stock a favorite for paneling, cabinetry, doors, shelving, fixtures, and more.
We are fortunate to have a major wine production facility just down the road from our Farmington, New York shop. As part of their long-term modernization plan, we are called every 3 or 4 years to dismantle some decommissioned wine vats. The work is arduous but the wood that we are able to reclaim from these vats is well worth the labor.
The 17 foot high wine barrels provide some of our favorite board stock, complete with deep patina and character and even the faint aroma of the wine they used to house.
Over the past ten years we’ve gotten some beautifully patina’d redwood, cypress, Douglas fir & white oak.
Having participated in two of the four scheduled vat deconstructions, I am always quick to share tales of the epic labors involved in the acquisition whenever someone expresses interest in the material.
For starters, the barrels are 17′ tall. They are spaced less than two feet apart and are typically located deep in the labyrinth-like recesses of a fully functioning production facility.
Each barrel is disassembled with the help of a pneumatic impact wrench, a sawzall, an electric grinder and our favorite tool – the sledge hammer!
This past summer, when we were asked to remove eight vats, we enlisted two members of New Energy Works (our sister company) to assist with the deconstruction. Andy and Matt, being timberframers, were accustomed to working at heights and were equipped with the safety harnesses. To their delight, they were given the responsibility for cutting loose and dropping the ceiling of each barrel.
In July, upstate NY temperatures typically reach the mid 80’s, but atop the vats our crew sweated through temperatures in the high 90’s and labored in grime and dust that had accumulated over 70+ years. It was not glamorous work.
After the ceiling was dropped we began dismantling the steel ribs that keep all the wooden staves cinched together. Two ribs were always left intact towards the bottom to prevent the entire vat from potentially collapsing outwards.
The most physically taxing task for each barrel was knocking the first stave out with the sledge hammer. Because the vats fit together so tightly, the hammer was passed from one fatigued hand to another until the stave had been loosened enough to pry out.
Once this was accomplished we could begin the adrenaline inducing process of knocking individual (or sometime groups of) staves loose and then “guiding” them as they fell inwards. It was not always graceful but it was always thrilling.
After the wood staves and steel ribs were carted out on a converted drywall dolly, all that was left was to dismantle the base.
Eight days later: Job complete!
Split in half, the staves show clear evidence of their pedigree. The exterior boards exhibit a dark patina with perpendicular markings left by the steel ribs. The interior boards retain a red/pinkish stain left from 70+ years of having been a vessel for millions of gallons of Finger Lakes Wine.
Wine vat stock, lightly planed (alternating exterior and interior boards).
You don’t have to be a wine fanatic to appreciate this reclaimed wood. It’s beautiful and has a vivid story to tell.
For the past couple of months I’ve been working with a residential client on her sun-room addition. We started talking about rustic flooring, then moved on to paneling, trim and mantles for a two sided fireplace. By the time the details were worked out and measurements settled, the time frame for the project had become quite tight.
Thankfully, between our large volume of timber stock and the greatest team of dedicated craftsmen in the industry, we’ve now got the client’s order milled, finished, packed, and ready to go. It will deliver to her home today, just before our shop closes for the long holiday weekend.
These long planks of custom milled bead board (center and left) are waiting for their final coat of Tung Oil to be applied. The American Gothic grade was selected for the walls to complement the texture and character of the Settlers’ Plank flooring (right of image).
Given that the average amount of time an American spends working at a single company is 4.1 years, an employee who has delivered 18+ years of solid performance to a company deserves commendation. Our man Calvin has been elbow deep in reclaimed wood since 1994. No longer the wild whipper-snapper who joined Pioneer Millworks in the pre-Internet-Age, Cal has grown into one of the mill’s respected patriarchs.
Need to know how to provide maintenance to our 500lb planer? Ask Cal. Not quite sure how to sort for our many grades of Heart Pine? Ask Cal. Want to hear a juicy story about some dude who used to work in the shop ten years before anyone else in the room even set foot in the mill? Pull up a seat next to Cal and prepare yourself for an epic tale. Generous and knowledgeable, Cal has been an invaluable resource to the younger generation of millworkers who are more often than not newcomers to the reclaimed wood industry.
He’s fine-tuning the new Mattison.
As the principal operator of our Mattison straight-line saw, he has handled nearly every barn board that has passed through our shop in the past 5 years. Ever eyeing for the greatest yield and potential in each individual board, Cal processes material with the speed and expertise that in no small way contributes to Pioneer Millworks’ ability to maintain its place at the top of the industry.
Cal in Taiwan
Recently returned from a two week vacation in Taiwan, Cal has currently been busy taming a new Mattison which was upgraded in his absence. Come swing by our shop in Farmington, NY. Take a tour of the mill and meet this longstanding member of our family!