A couple of "old guys" having some fun!
SHOP OWNER: Rick Phillips
LOCATION: Ruston, LA
The spalted wood for these projects is harvested right here in North Central Louisiana off 125 acres that my partner, Doctor Sanderlin, owns. He has 85 acres in a hardwood bottom that still has many old growth hardwoods on it ranging from shagbark hickory, pecan, American red gum, various species of oak, red elm, and a few more I can't seem to remember at this time. He owns a Woodmizer sawmill, has been salvaging this wood for more than ten years, and has been salting it away in his barns. He also has a slow-dry kiln setup here at the shop.
I've just recently started to work with him in producing some projects out of this spalted material in hopes we may be able to start marketing it. His inventory is so vast; most likely, he has more of it than anybody does in the state. We are in the beginning stages of work and kind of feeling our way through the whole thing at this point.
Doctor Sanderlin’s father was a lumberman and sawyer so this is nothing new to him. He definitely knows how to cut the wood. This is like a hobby to him and he really enjoys it. He knows what will spalt and has the experience on how to make various species spalt. After over ten years doing this he said, "Once I figured out that “spalted” had more value than just “plain Jane”, I started saving it for a rainy day!”
The Doctor salvages this material and does the cutting and grading. First, it is put up to air dry for the periods required before it is put into the kiln. From there, I take it to the shop and produce just about whatever comes to mind. We have some pretty good but basic tools to use at this point. We have one of those tennoning jigs for doing the legs, a Model 718 Woodmaster planner-roll sander, a Log-O-Sol 10" double planer-molder, a Grizzly 8" jointer, a Delta bandsaw, a Hitachi vertical drill press, a table and radial arm saw, and other tools needed for the basics.
For the most part, I've known Doctor Sanderlin since he became my veterinarian eight years ago. I'm a woodworker/carpenter/cabinet maker/artist myself and had never seen such material in my life. Boy, was I surprised when I first got a look at the wood he had. The Doc is not a woodworker at all. When he offered me the opportunity to work with him, I jumped on it like a duck on a June bug! We teamed up and for a couple of 'ole guys' we are having a great time with it.. . . Rick Phillips
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