The Magic of Hollywood

Pioneer Millworks has been blessed with a lot of media attention this year. We’ve supplied flooring and other materials for a few projects that you’ll see on television in the coming months.

Spice Up Your Kitchen came to us earlier this year with an ambitious project schedule, and a pretty cool little project. They asked Pioneer Millworks to provide the flooring for a small row-house kitchen re-model in a suburb of Philadelphia, PA. We were more than happy to put together some Character Select Heart Pine for the occasion and get it on its way. A few phone calls later, and they asked Jennifer Young, our Marketing Director, and I to come down to the site as resident flooring experts. A few more phone calls later, and we were asked to help install the floor on camera. Jennifer has a very talented & entertainment-oriented family ( her twin boys star in the upcoming film, “They Came From Upstairs“, hitting theaters in January! ) so she’s used to cameras being around. I had not worked in front of a camera though, save for a couple interviews by local television about 12 years ago!

The pace is quite slow in comparison to a typical flooring installation. Working with host carpenter Jeff Devlin, I ended up installing the floor with him and the homeowner through the course of the day. There was a lot of stop and go, re-takes, and quickly rehearsed lines, but it was a lot of fun. We started by laying a border strip at the edge of the living room, leading into the small kitchen. From there, we worked back into the space, having a heck of a time cutting some special pieces to fit around a curved bottom stair riser. The builder, who remains off camera during the entire process, worked with us as well, cutting material out on the sidewalk to keep the dust down inside. Amazing the things you have to think of when shooting for TV!

This was a great opportunity to work with our flooring right along side other professionals, and see how they reacted to our product. Compliments came throughout the day about the milling, the finishing, and the character of the wood. In fact, Jeff was caught hugging & kissing a plank because it was so beautiful to him. The homeowner was there helping to select some choice planks for the middle of the room where they would be the most visible. Thats the fun part of installing our wood, picking out the coolest looking pieces and placing them where you know you’ll see them forever. But as I told them, you’ll walk down the stairs every day for the res of your life on this floor, and every time, you’ll notice something new. The Heart Pine floors we produce are fluid, almost alive, in the way their grain & character dance.

Salvaged from the McCormick Harvester tractor plant in Rock Island, IL, the wood held up the structure of a factory that chruned out hundreds of thousands of tractors. Chances are, if you eat vegetables, they were farmed by one of these tractors at some point! The factory stood vacant after production ceased a fea years ago, and when it was finally demolished, over 90% of the building was recycled. Bricks, steel, glass, timber, and all! The historical character of the wood will mesh perfectly with the new kitchen. You can see the episode October 28th at 8:30pm on HGTV.

Check out Pioneer Millworks and see the flooring we used on the Philadelphia project – we’ve got some great pricing available on this classic Heart Pine. Thanks for checking out the blog, and stop back again soon – something’s always cookin.

– Jered

Use what’s on hand

I was in my kitchen the other night trying to put together dinner, while my boys were running around the house chasing each other, and my wife was trying to relax for a moment on the couch. I had some nice red potatoes and pole beans from the farmers market, some Tilapia fillets, and some fresh herbs from the garden. I managed to turn it all into something fun: panko-crusted Tilapia strips, with garlic smashed potatoes, and sauteed beans. No tartar sauce could be found though, so my wife put some together with some mayo and relish. I’m telling you, your kids will devour the fish – and its way better for you and your taste buds than boxed fish sticks!

Anyway, as I sat back afterward looking at empty plates & happy faces, I got to thinking about how the meal was put together using what was on-hand. The concept seems almost too simple. After all, why would you run out to the store for one thing, if you can make it work with another? When we don’t use what is on hand, it costs time, energy, and money. The same concept applies to us in the world of reclaimed wood.

Every day we get calls from designers, builders, and homeowners that want to find a special floor. Be it super-wide reclaimed Oak, or exceptionally clear Heart Pine, we can usually consider any request. The fun begins though when you put your trust in our hands – we’re a creative bunch here, you know. We can see the beauty in a material long before the first nail is pulled, and guide you through options that you might not think of.

We often have smaller batches of wood that are incredibly special, whether it is a unique source, texture, species, etc. A restaurant owner came to us a few months back looking for a floor that would go into Apotheke ( say Ah-Po-Teek), a hip new establishment in New York City’s Chinatown. While they knew they liked our Attic Collection from a past project, they remained open to our suggestions on how to integrate our reclaimed wood into an old parquet-style floor. The first material that came to mind was a small batch of Heart Pine joists that had come in from a warehouse in Pennsylvania. The joists were wide enough to yield a 9″ floorboard, and they could retain all of the original patina & subtle texture from their previous life. Working with the designer, we produced a floor from these boards that was all 36″ long and able to be arranged in a “standard pattern”. The results speak for themselves:

I’ll be there for a drink, how about you?

Putting your trust Pioneer Millworks us allows our shop to create a truly custom floor for you. But the decision to use what is readily available doesn’t have to be quite as involved as this project. In most cases, we can produce a floor using simple changes, such as different species or widths, that will still get you the same quality of floor with a very similar appearance. You’ll end up with a floor worth bragging about, and you’ll know that we conserved resources by using what was on-hand.

Thanks for checking back to the blog. As for the “Tilapia Panko”, as my kids call it, drop me an e-mail at jered@pioneermillworks.com if you want the recipe….Or to talk reclaimed wood.

Does the world need another blog?

So perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “Does the world need another blog”? Well, obviously we at Pioneer Millworks think it does. You see, reclaimed wood, which is what we specialize in, is a funky, quirky, and unique material to work with. Unlike strip Oak or other commodity hardwood flooring & lumber, this material is all about variation, character, and history. Because of the special nature of this wood, it can be used in a virtually infinite range of designs, and in places where your typical wood might look out of place; for example, when was the last time you saw 2 1/4″ pre-finished Oak used for a ceiling?

In “Designing Against The Grain”, we’ll explore the hippest ways to use reclaimed wood, the coolest sources we’re reclaiming from, and show you some great projects from the best & brightest designers around the world. After all, there’s so much more that can be done with our wood than just floors – and if you‘re doing a floor, why not make it stand out? It could be a pattern, perhaps a stain or finish, or maybe its a history that ties together the theme of a commercial project.

Take the Wall Street Burger Shoppe for example:


Heather Tierney and her brother Christopher, came to us looking for a flooring material that would speak “Old world charm”, warmth, and history, without looking like a barn. Having already settled on our Picklewood for the walls, the floor also needed to compliment those tones. Their vision, combined with our vast inventory, came to life in a floor that was cut from Heart Pine decking salvaged from the McCormick Harvester tractor plant in Rock Island, IL. Having sampled one of these burgers myself ( Order 2 of them – trust me, you’ll want a second one ) I can honestly say that this floor is one of the most authentic looking floor we have ever produced. There’s just so much depth to the patina, and the natural distressing in the wood, that this looks like the floor has been there for a hundred years of foot traffic.

The best part is, this was a custom-made floor that fit the needs ot the client all around, and it made great use of a resource we had available, which didn’t really fit into a “normal” grade of ours. It works great with the walls and tables ( also made of our Picklewood ), bringing together an atmosphere of a rediscovered space with original finishes.


This is the kind of great work thats being done all over the country, and the kinds of projects we’ll explore here. You’ll see things pop up pretty regularly, and they’ll hopefully inspire you to think outside the box, and use our reclaimed wood in ways you’d never normally consider.

Thanks for reading – check back often, visit us at www.pioneermillworks.com, and feel free to e-mail me, jered@pioneermillworks.com anytime.

– Jered