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