This week we spent one of the last beautiful days of autumn dismantling a local vinegar vat. While we’ve become pretty expert at this type of work, this vat in particular humbled us with 6″ of cider sludge at the bottom. We new fathers on the job could not help but to compare its consistency to diaper contents though I have to say that the smell was fouler. Suffice to say that at the end of the day everything I wore ended up in the dumpster.
But don’t despair, after a thorough power washing, the wood that we brought back to our shop will likely make its way into a boutique women’s clothing store near you in short time!
We have a stellar marketing department. This dedicated crew of three work tirelessly to give our brand a clear and distinct presence in the growing reclaimed wood marketplace. Between designing new trade show booths, posting on Facebook, and fielding requests from industry publications, these guys also find time to maintain a bulletin board in the break room of our Farmington, NY mill. Every month or so this bulletin board gets updated with new pictures of recent finished projects. The intention is to share with employees the fruit of their daily blood sweat and tears. And if a visiting client stops to check out these handsome images on the way to the restroom, its an added bonus.
What they never anticipated, but have reluctantly come to tolerate, is that these images would be creatively bastardized by employees with nimble hands, company issued utility knives and a healthy (if not sometimes twisted) sense of humor. Here are some of my favorite collaborations-yes I’ve been saving and collecting what I consider to be the best of the best.
Special thanks to our resident artists. You know who you are.
One of the most frequent questions that I’m asked about our company is how we deal with all the nails that come to us in the reclaimed wood that we buy. I usually answer by singing the praises of our de-nailing crew who work outdoors, year round, using metal detectors, chisels, hammers and a custom tool that we call a “slide grip” to prepare material for the saws. But the reality is that, as good as our crew is, a few nails still find their way into our mill -and boy can they do a number on a saw blade! When a nail sneaks into the mill, the first place that it is likely to make itself know is at the Head Saw or Re-Saw. Anyone who has worked in the mill longer than a week will recognize the distinctive loud pop and snap of the band saw blade breaking. Most of us cringe at this sound but Carl Jensen smirks through his beard in delight. That’s because Carl is our full time blade-sharpener, chisel-grinder, chainsaw-tuner and master tinkerer. He’s got an arsenal of sharpened band saw blades in arms reach so that the saw will be up and running again before you can say “down time”.
The “slide grip” that I mentioned earlier: Carl invented it. He has also been fabricating them for us for nearly two decades. Just clamp the “slide grip” on that ‘ol rusted nail and a yank or two will bust it free from the gnarliest barn timber you can bring us.
Band saw blade sharpener.
Pass through this door to enter Carl’s workshop.
Food for thought when sharpening.
These teeth have a bite!
Short and wide chisels and long and narrow chisels. A chisel for every occasion!
The American Crayon Company’s factory in Sandusky, Ohio was slated for deconstruction, so we headed out to rescue the antique wooden bones of the building before it went to waste. We rescued 2 truckloads – that’s 24,000 board feet – of Foundry Maple. The old wood has endured thousands of footfalls, heavy machinery, and a smattering of colorful wax crayon materials.
Here’s a peek inside the former factory:
The American Crayon Factory in Sandusky, Ohio being deconstructed
The factory’s history
When the first superintendent of Sandusky’s public schools wasn’t satisfied with the chunky chalks used on the boards in classrooms, he turned to his brother-in-law to create a new and improved chalk. William D. Curtis’ accepted the challenge and began experimenting in his kitchen in 1850 with what became, years later, the American Crayon Company. ACC became the largest employer in the area and produced many popular art products including crayons, chalk, watercolors, pencils, paste and cleaners.
Over the years, American Crayon acquired many other companies, most notably Prang Educational Company with their trademark Old Faithful geyser logo in 1913, and Dixon Ticonderoga who expanded their industrial supplies line in 1984. The former merger slowly outsourced the labor and plant operations to Canada and Mexico, sadly forcing the Sandusky plant to close in 2002.
The flooring’s next life
Bundle of Maple Foundry reclaimed from the American Crayon Factory
After leaving their old factory life behind in Ohio, the raw industrial salvaged Foundry Maple arrived at our eco-friendly shop in Upstate New York where we’re de-nailing and re-milling the planks into paneling, flooring, fixtures, and more to be used in commercial and residential spaces. Limited quantities are available and each ‘batch’ of this grade comes with one-of-a-kind often hard-earned texture, wear marks, and color.
Reclaimed Maple Foundry from the American Crayon Factory
Full of texture, and on occasion original paint, Foundry Maple can be put back into service with little or no finishing. Ranging from browns and golds to greys and occasional lavender tones, Foundry Maple offers unmatched color, original distressing, and character. While this reclaimed Foundry Maple may not be as boldly colorful as the products that passed through the factory, the boards continue to maintain a vibrant history and unmatched durability.