To Great Lengths, and Beyond

by ziggy on June 13, 2013 -- 3 comments -- Follow

Am I picky, or stubborn, or just in a really impoverished area? Maybe all of the above. It’s somewhat crazy what I have had to go through to try to get a particular type of wood siding sawn up for me. It started off simple, I thought — calling a mill I’ve used before to see if I could have some live edge siding sawn up out of white oak. I slowly learned that this would be harder than I thought. Well… many weeks later, I think I finally may have someone both willing to do it, and with access to the materials.

Is it normal to go to these great lengths for a building project, or what? Please do chime in, and please tell me.

Last year, we got a sweet pile of reclaimed cedar siding with a live edge (meaning, one natural, curvy edge off the timber). Once we had installed it on our tool shed, we were enamored with the look. And so many months later, it is that style of siding that we’ve wanted to acquire for our north porch on the straw bale house.

Live Edge Wood Siding

Live edge cedar siding… love it.

The first mill said no, because their scope is too narrow, I guess. The guy never cut material like it before, and didn’t want to try. Okay, fair enough, even though it should actually be really simple as far as sawing goes. After another unsuccessful try or two with someone else, I found an ad for an Amish builder 45 miles away, hand-wrote a letter, and included photos of the siding to see if he could do it. Two weeks later, I got a call and said he would be willing to do it, and would put in a request with another fellow for the white oak.

Well, another four weeks (at least) and 6-8 phone calls later, it’s become clear that maybe this guy can’t do it either, claiming the individual he works with to acquire logs has not been able to get any out of the woods. Ho boy… back to square one? Do I find another person entirely, or try to get someone else to bring the logs to the sawyer? And where the hell am I going to get white oak anyway? (Our horribly tree-poor land is not an option, for one…)

After yet more digging, I found out the name of another Amish fellow a good 30 miles away who sounded like my next best bet. After getting unfortunately way-off driving directions from a friend, and two hours of chasing a gravel road seemingly no one had ever heard of, we finally found the guy himself.

Of course, the man’s son was not there, who does the actual work, so we had to leave a note with the father and pray to the gods/spirits/whoever that the son would call us back from the Amish community telephone down the road, to let us know…. and so here I am, with some decent hope of finally getting our white oak live edge siding, but needing to wait on a phone call from an Amish guy some 30+ miles away.

Je-sus. Sometime this year, I swear, I will have a closed-in porch. This is probably the hardest part, in fact. Installing it should be a breeze in comparison.

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  • JT Croteau

    It’s too bad you don’t have more land. Because I have 5 acres of white oak and hickory, I am thinking of buying a chainsaw mill for projects like this. It’s a lot of slow work using them but I really don’t want to spend the money on a portable saw-mill.

    I wish you the best in your search, but don’t give up and go with something else if this is what you really want. I will be seeing you in October and hope to see your porch with live-edge oak siding.

  • Paul

    This kind of lumber is hard to come by because it is an unusual request. The sawmill operators don’t want to interrupt their routine for a custom request. I had a small shed built for me a couple of years ago and it took several months for the live-edge siding to be cut. Don’t give up if that is what you want. Perseverance pays! And I agree – live-edge siding is very attractive. It might be worthwhile to see if you can go through a contractor to get the lumber – the sawmill operators tend to listen more closely to repeat customers than to those who they might never see again. You may have to pay the contractor a small “finders” fee, but it will be worth it.

    Good luck!!

  • Scott

    I agree with Paul-initially, custom jobs might be difficult, but if you’re a repeat customer, things will rapidly become a lot easier,and they will work with you.

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