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What a Lumberyard is Supposed To Be Like

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First posted on Mark Is Cranky:

So here was a typical Saturday. There was a home-type project to be done (or at least started) by me & stepson #1. The project was to build a set of built in bookcases for the wife up in her office (The real skinny on this is that the bookcases were to be a Christmas present from stepson #1 to his mom. How I’m involved in this is both more complicated and more boring than anybody needs to be putting up with. Lets just say that stepson #1 has been very busy dealing with things like his last coop term, construction projects for a local theatre group and mooning about his girlfriend being all the way out in Oklahoma. Hmmmm….that last bit isn’t quite right. I’m not actually certain that he’s been mooning about said romance object but am guessing that if he is anything like was I was at the age of twenty-two, he’s been doing some serious mooning.)


A few weeks back I’d given stepson #1 directions to a local lumber yard which looked to be A) promising and B) not Home Depot (which #1 has taken to calling ‘Home Devil’.) He had stopped by there last weekend and discovered that they were only open til noon on Saturdays. So this past Saturday we loaded ourselves into the big rig (my old Chevy K1500, currently ‘owned’ by stepson #2, who has modified it to sound like your typical Honda Accord with Cabbage-Shooter exhaust, but on steroids) and head to the lumber yard. As #1 takes a turn to the left at a critical juncture, and away from the lumber yard, I just have to ask him where he’s going. Turns out that the lumber yard I described to him didn’t end up being the one he checked out. The yard I recommended looked like a smaller and less evil version of Home Depot. He did sort of go near that place but on the way spied a sign for another place. This turned out to be a fantastic and rewarding mistake.

After driving a half-mile or so through the heart of cookie-cutter-house suburbia (I hope they built more houses outa all the danged trees they cut down) we made another turn down a cul-de-sac full of more McMansions. One more turn to the right and suddenly we’re on an unpaved road paralleling a long row of Northern Pines. We end up in a small open field bordered by the office/garage on our left and two huge lumber storage buildings on our right. There are a lot of cars and pickups there. Looked very promising.

One step through the office door and we realized that this was definitely not Home Depot. All four walls are absolutely plastered with photos, newspaper cutouts and various trinkets related to fishing. There are about four guys on our side of the counter (some drinking from cans of Budweiser) and two on the other. The two guys on the ‘business side’ of the counter appear to be engaged in a serious match of some form of ring toss, which involves flinging large (3 inches in diameter) metal washers toward a long wooden box on the floor. The box has several holes of various sizes drilled into the top. I can also see through a doorway on the far wall that there are a bunch of guys in the attached garage who appear to be lobbing horseshoes back & forth (and also drinking from cans of Budweiser.) Things are getting very curious.

In a fashion typical to our area of the country, we are ignored.

After several minutes, somebody pipes up and says “Hey, are you guys looking for Steve?” We reply in the affirmative (honestly not knowing who the hell Steve is) and are told that he’s gone off to the house but will be back in a minute or so. When he does arrive we are greeted in an extremely friendly manner as we get right down to going over our plans/list. We head outside across the lot to the wood storage building. Steve flips up the door on the 1×12’s unit and we are presented with a huge pile of the snazziest looking clear pine I’ve ever seen. We needed 21 eight foot lengths and proceeded to pull out eleven absolutely perfect sixteen foot boards which Steve then cut in half with a chain saw (after informing us that each board is over sawn by an inch.) #1 loads the woods into the barking Chevy and I head back to the office with Steve to settle things up.

Now, before we actually made it out to get the wood, Steve lets me in on the why’s and how’s of all the ‘customers’ hanging around in the office. As it turns out, they hold an indoor horseshoes tournament there every single week. Everybody brings food and drink, Steve tosses a turkey in the deep fryer (and let me tell you, that thing smelled mighty fine) and a good time is had by all.

Settling up: we get inside and Steve makes up the bill. I hand him my plastic and he replies “Sorry, I don’t take credit cards anymore.” Nuts. “Well, I didn’t bring my checkbook with me. I guess I can go home and get it.” Nope. Instead, Steve just takes down my name and phone number, and asks me to send him a check in the mail. I am more than a little astounded and feel like I’ve stepped into some parallel home repair universe. I thank the man, say “take care” to the Budweiser guys and pop back out to the waiting truck.

The construction of the shelving unit, even in our nothing-is-square-get-used-to-it-bucko house, is sorta boring compared to our little sawmill adventure.

(P.S. The wood we purchased was at least twice as good as anything we’d seen at the Big Orange Box…at 1/3 the price.)

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About Mark Saleski

  • You inspire me to share my experiences polyurethaning the floor in my pool house – with pictures.



    Sounds like you need to give that man all your business.

  • poly on the floor. gawd, my sinuses hurt just reading that!

    and you’re right, this guy is going to get my business from now on.

  • Eric Olsen

    think local act global, nice story Mark, thanks!