August 2009


President's corner

Next meeting

Last meeting



Last Meeting

Frank Ramsey loudly banged the gavel to bring the meeting to order on July 16, 2009 at precisely 7:07pm.

Guests and New Members:

Two guests joined us for the meeting this evening: Richard and Praki Prakash.


John Blackmore briefly described the program for the August BAWA meeting. This meeting will be a hands-on session to demonstrate and teach the uses of hand planes, spoke shaves and cabinet scrapers. Instructors at the meeting will be Don Naples, Neal White, John Blackmore, Arnold Champagne, Harold Patterson, Patrick Bana and Claude Godcharles. The instructors will have various hand tools available for members to use on wood pieces set up on Workmate benches. This meeting is a great opportunity to develop and hone your woodworking skills with hand tools. Expect to see some exotic planes, too.

Jay Perrine described the agenda for the September meeting. The program will deal with how to expand your woodworking shop: electrical power, layout, type of floor, heating, work stations and equipment.

Stan Booker encouraged everyone to buy tickets for the wood raffle, 3 pieces of white oak. There was a mystery bag in the door prize assortment for the evening. Heineken anyone? A Craftsman router was available in the silent auction segment.

Frank Ramsey said the club is still looking for a suitable location to use for the upcoming dovetail class.

Featured Presentation:Ken Forden, Whitethorn Construction

Whitehorn Construction, located in the "Lost Coast" region of California near Shelter Cove, produces beautiful, high quality hardwood products including kiln dried lumber, flooring, trim, moldings, slabs and custom cut stock sawn from native California hardwoods.

Getting there requires a commitment. The drive is five hours north, off Highway 101 near Garberville in Humboldt County. This area is a throwback in time. People believe in self-sufficiency, independence and resourcefulness. Whitethorn, for instance, does not accept credit cards, does not use a computer for recording sales and only recently introduced a sales brochure and business cards for its hardwoods business.

Bob McKee is the owner and founder of Whitethorn Construction. He inherited the land from his father, whose father had been an Indian Agent in the area. Today, the company has four divisions: land, including county real estate, construction that is being phased out, heavy equipment mostly for logging operations, a hardware store and lumber yard and the new hardwoods operation. Ken distributed a new brochure describing the hardwoods operation. In addition, his presentation for the evening is available on the web:

Check this site out. The photographs of the area, operations and their projects are magnificent.

Ken said that Whitethorn decided to begin a hardwoods operation because native hardwoods have been largely ignored and disrespected in California. Hardwoods were deemed to have little commercial value. These logs were hard to harvest, process and dry. The lumber industry in Northern California had been focused on the softwoods including fir and redwood. There had been more than 30 logging, milling operations in the Lost Coast region and today they are mostly gone.

The hardwoods operation of Whitethorn buys hardwood logs both locally and from foresters in the contiguous states, cuts the logs, air dries the lumber, then kiln dries it. They maintain an inventory of 50,000 board feet of kiln dried lumber. They are a member of the Forest Stewardship Council (member #19) and buy FSC certified lumber whenever possible. It is not always easy to do so because of the stringent tracking requirements necessary to obtain the certificate. Many foresters simply do not have the resources to meet these requirements.

Whitethorn processes logs using two mills: a Woodmizer 25" band saw mill and a Lucas 60" chain saw mill. They will be adding a third mill in the next year. Each mill is suited to handle different types of logs. The Woodmizer is used to mill logs that are up to 8'6" long and 20" in diameter. This mill is set up outside although they have plans to build a roofed shed to house all milling operations in the near future. Five forklifts are used to move logs and stacked lumber. They will even mill your log if you bring it to them.

Whitethorn views itself as woodworkers serving woodworkers, not as wood merchants. They understand the needs of their customers and kiln drying is a critical process. Milled lumber is stacked and stickered after sawing, then allowed to air dry to a moisture content of about 12% before being kiln dried. A 1" thick board usually air dries for one year, a 2" thick piece for two years and so on. Bugs can be a problem during air drying so it is critical to protect the logs and wood stack. Pepperwood and walnut are susceptible to powder post beetles. Logs ends are painted with a wax paint and sawn as soon as possible after cutting.

The company uses two Carter kilns to dry the wood. A load of 4/4 lumber can be dried in about two weeks. The temperature is raised to 140 degrees F for at least three days to kill any bugs and organisms. Each uniform layer of boards is stickered. The stickers too must be of uniform thickness. There are a myriad of problems that can arise during air drying if it is not done carefully, including honey combing, bullets, twists and cell collapse. The dried stack of lumber is usually wrapped with straps to place uniform pressure on the lumber.

The wood processing facility at Whitethorn includes a 30" planer, a straight-line rip saw, a resaw, and a Weinig 5 head molder.

Whitethorn ships lumber to the Marin County, Portland and Seattle areas. Its products include flooring, lumber, moldings, trim, doors and architectural millwork. Species include: tan oak, madrone, black or claro walnut, black oak, pepperwood or laurel, cypress, live oak and chinquapin.

If you want to visit Whitethorn, they will be glad to assist you finding lodgings and planning your visit. Tours are available and if you arrive in your RV, hookups are available on site. Their telephone number is 707-986-7412 and you can just ask for Ken.

Show and Tell:

Frank Ramsey showed us photographs of the high boy he has made of maple, walnut and mahogany. He brought in one of the drawers. Much of the maple in the highboy came from the pieces he won in the BAWA raffle. Glad to see it going to good use. It may be a first. The rest of us who have won wood in the raffle continue to wonder what to make with it.