July 2008


President's corner

Next meeting

Last meeting


This 'n That


Last Meeting

The July meeting started with Announcements. Mark Rand has decreed from Glacier Bay that all badges for the badge contest must be completed for the next meeting. If you don't have one, you will be banished.

Yeung Chan's book, Classic Joints with Power Tools is now available in the club library.

Per Madsen reminded the membership that the next meeting will be at Joinery Structures in Oakland. The August meeting will be back in Foster City with Don Naples discussing sharpening.

Stan Booker reminded the club that Tennyson High School has an urgent need for a woodworking teacher. They have very strong parental support for the program. Montera Junior High in Oakland is also looking for a woodworking teacher. Contact Stan at 510-522-7879 or sbooker07@alamedanet.net.

Stan also described the door prizes for the evening: clamps, glue and a measuring tool.

The raffle was postponed until the next meeting. Stan selected a nice Myrtle plank from McBeath to use in a future raffle.

Our main presentation was a tour of McBeath Hardwood Lumber in Berkeley. Our host was Rich McDaniels. Rich started his career with McBeath in 1982. McBeath Hardwood Company started in Berkeley, CA in 1956. Today the company has stores in San Francisco, Paris CA, and Salt Lake City. The main lumberyard for the company is located in Indiana where wood is graded, dried and shipped to the retail yards.

After this brief introduction to McBeath, pronounced McBeth for you disbelievers, Rich showed us around the warehouse. We began the tour with plywood. Much of the plywood we buy today is produced in China from logs sent from the USA. McBeath receives an average of four containers per day. Walnut logs ship from Missouri to China.

A sheet of ¾ Maple ply with a UV acrylic finish on both sides sells for $69. ¼ Maple ply is finished on only one side.

If you want full dimension plywood, you can buy a sheet with a calibrated core of plywood, coated on either side by MDF, then veneered with the finish wood. It is dead flat.

So-called Apple Ply really has a core of Alder with a Maple face veneer. It is not waterproof. Finish Birch plywood, however, is waterproof. Okume plywood meets the British Standard BS 1088, has no voids and is marine grade. It sells for $135.65 for a ¾ sheet.

Khaya is an African Mahogany. The ¼ plywood sheet sells for $30.48 and should not be sanded because the veneer is so thin. It too is made in China.

Next we moved to the solid wood sections of the warehouse. Teak is an interesting wood caught in a dilemma. The only old growth Teak available comes from Burma, or Myranmar. Because this country is ruled by a dictatorship, the US Congress has passed an import ban on Teak from Burma. Until recently, buyers have been able to circumvent the ban by having logs shipped to Thailand for milling, then importing the finished lumber from Thailand. Congress has passed legislation closing this loophole and it is awaiting the President's signature. McBeath Hardwoods has 4 containers of Teak in transit to the US and hopes it arrives before the ban becomes law. They expect the price of Teak to double. Teak now sells for $25 per board foot. In the future Teak may become available from Laos. However, the country must first develop its infrastructure to support logging, milling and transportation.

McBeath has an excellent selection of wood welded Maple countertops that are 1 ½" thick. It is sold finished by the foot. Stair treads are available in White Oak, Maple and Jatoba.

Next we were led to a pile of Pommele Bubinga. These trees in Africa can grow as large as a Giant Sequoia. We saw slabs as wide as 48" all the way up to 54". It is priced at $25 per board foot, but can be negotiated down to $18, especially for the very wide boards which tend to be too wide for a table top.

We were shown some quarter sawn White Oak with beautiful medullary rays. McBeath Hardwoods is well known for its selection of large timbers in several wood species: Cherry, Maple, Birch, Poplar, Ash and Walnut.

We viewed stacks of several species of 4/4 lumber including Sipo, an African Mahogany, Eastern Curly Maple at $14 per BF, Alder at $4.09, and figured Makore at $12 per BF. We saw a large stack of Western Curly Maple that has remained unsold in the warehouse since 2001. A big discount can be negotiated for this wood.

One wood that is not available is Koa from Hawaii. When available, McBeath pays $35 per BF, then prices it at $50. Black Acacia is a good substitute we were told. Stan Booker told us that when he was in Hawaii he sat on a fallen Koa log on a beach and broke into tears just thinking about the opportunity lost.

As a final instruction, Rich showed us how to use the tally stick to measure the number of board feet in a plank. He emphasized that if you are buying a stack of wood, each piece of lumber must be measured individually, otherwise you are buying a lot of air.

With this lesson in mind, we adjourned.

John Blackmore with a tiny bit of help from Mark Rand