Kentucky Tobacco Warehouse Timbers

We recently acquired some handsome pine timbers that were salvaged out of a Kentucky tobacco warehouse. This structure was part of a mammoth complex which at it’s peak offered over 8 million cubic feet of storage space along a major rail line. A casualty of the steady decline in tobacco farming, these buildings have been decommissioned and by the end of the year will be entirely dismantled.

I was able to take a trip down south this summer and visit this site while there was still something to photograph. My pictures are below. As for the timbers, they’re stunning. Almost entirely free of demolition damage and rot, these pine beams have a beautiful, unpainted ,circle-sawn texture and mocha brown patina. Best of all, they come in dimensions that architects, engineers and designers are always asking for: 8 x 8″ and 8 x 12″. My only complaint is that they don’t have even the faintest hint of tobacco aroma – they just smell like wood. That’s not so bad though, is it?

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Couldn’t do this in 1999

ipad

 

Our marketing department recently provided our shop with a new tool; this snazzy ipad! Safely encased in an industrial rubber sheath, it primarily hangs out with our moulder crew. When they begin milling a job, they lay out the first dozen or so finished boards, grab the ipad, and snap a few pictures. These pictures are immediately sent to our customer service department where they are put on file for future reference. Thanks Steve Jobs!

Sometimes though, the temptation to use it for less official purposes is too strong. Turns out, the ipad is a great companion for a leisurely walk through the yard on a friday afternoon. The time lapse feature is especially fun to play with.

 

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Air Jordans (yawn), OMG check out those bleachers!

Sometimes I spend so much time laboring on a job that visiting the installed material can feel like a reunion with an old friend (or “frenemy” depending on how much stress the project imposed upon my life). That’s how I felt last week, when on a brief trip to Chicago, I was able to squeeze in a quick visit to an old bleacher project that consumed my summer of 2012.

NIKE 1As you can see, the installation looks quite handsome (no we did not make the sneaker/basketball chandelier). The intent of the client’s design was to replicate the look of a traditional wooden retractable bleacher wall and in my opinion this is perfectly accomplished.

Hinsdale Central Gymnasium (NXPowerLite)

This is the actual gym that we sourced the bleachers from.

Often the simplicity of a design masks the complexity required in its execution. The demands of this particular job were especially rigid and resulted in an epic team effort.

We successfully sourced nearly 10,000 square feet of material from a school that was local to the Chicago area. This material was shipped to our shop in Farmington, NY where we…

  • cleaned decades worth of gum off of every board, (this was full time work for several employees; we still have gum remnants on our shop floor)
  • ripped the bullnose edges off of half the stock and then re-attached these bullnose edges to the remaining material
  • milled a custom profile into the top and bottom of each assembled unit
  • backed each unit with 1/4″ Luan to achieve the requireed thickness
  • sanded and refinished each unit with three coats of polyurethane
F 10 in

The raw stock.

We frequently are involved in projects of large scope but few have required the level of precision that this job demanded.

As I surveyed the installed project, I could not help but feel a disconnect between the drama that permeates my memory of its production and the simple, unassuming appearance of the material in situ. I found myself wishing that I could have experienced this finished project in the company of all the other co-workers who labored in its execution. We could have shared our battle stories as we toured the site. Unfortunately it was just myself and a herd of holiday shoppers, who I suspect found the display of Air Jordan’s more compelling than the bleachers on the wall.

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On another note, I live with a daily reminder of these bleachers. Soon after the job completed I built a chicken coop in my garage. I used some of the left over bleacher scrap as paneling inside inside the coop. My hope was that the stenciled numbers would make my chickens more intelligent. It did; they escaped.

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Anyhow, we still have some of these cool scraps in our shop. They are ripped to about 5″ wide and would add some real funk to any project. If you’re lucky, you might even find a remnant or two of juicy fruit stuck to the back.

 

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