Penn State Elm I have been using Elm for smaller boxes, letter openers, and pencil boxes. The logs were salvaged from the Penn State University Park campus during the winter storms of 1995 and 1996. Many trees were removed after being severely damaged by the heavy snow.
Elm is one of the rare woods in which the pores are arranged in wavy bands, and often give the wood a feather-like appearance. Its color is usually a light brown to gray, but depending on the tree can have some dark brown areas and even a creamy brown color in the sap wood.
I make a variety of different sizes and designs from Elm. The specialty piece is the Elm pencil box with the Lion profile (as seen below). All other boxes have the traditional Shaker box "fingers" or swallow tails, while the fronts of the Elm pencil boxes show a Lion profile.
The Majestic Courthouse Maples From the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, PA.
I have been making the smaller boxes and letter openers from the Courthouse Maple trees.
I was shocked to open up the morning paper and find the trees on the Courthouse lawn had been removed to make way for renovations. Later that morning I stopped in at the County Commissioners office to get information on what was to happen with the wood. Much of it was cut into small pieces and scheduled to be hauled to a landfill. After several phone calls, I had convinced the contractor to dump the wood at a friends farm, where I could work on salvaging pieces for lumber. Another local woodworker, Robert Martin, was also interested in obtaining some of the wood, so we agreed to share the trees in hopes of preserving a small piece of Centre County history.
The Sugar Maple was the last remaining tree from the original planting of the Courthouse lawn in the mid-1800's. In nearly every photo or postcard I was able to find, this tree shows up almost as a part of the courthouse. The growth rings date the tree back to 1860.
The Norway Maple dated back to 1918, and was planted to replace one of the original Sugar Maples.
I have always enjoyed looking at the history of the trees I get to work with. But can you imagine, 143 years in such a focal point of Centre County, the people who may have stopped in the shadow of this majestic tree on a hot summer day?
White Oak from Pine Grove Mills This tree was taken down in October of 2011, and had to be taken to a larger mill to be quartersawn. The tree provided five 8' long logs, the largest was 32" in diameter and the smallest being 23". This was the tallest and straightest tree I have been able to salvage. Also turns out to be the oldest tree I have had the privilege of working with. The growth rings show the tree as being 228 years old, which would date it back to 1783. It was taken down with great care by Ed Meek, who I thank greatly for loading it on too my trailer.
The logs were quartersawn at Zook's mill in Smulton, and shows some very nice ray fleck in the grain.
White Willows from Talleyrand Park I am making the No.3, 4, and 5 Shaker boxes from the Willows in Talleyrand Park. The history of these trees date back to the earliest settlers of Bellefonte.
Reference: Williams - McKeehan Genealogy 1928
Not long after Bellefonte was laid out in 1795, James and Priscilla Williams became some of the towns earlist settlers. Originally from Dillsburg, York County, James Williams and his bride rode to their new home in Bellefonte on horseback. Mrs. Williams carried for a riding-whip, a switch from a willow tree, that shaded her former home. It was planted on her arrival at Bellefonte, and the great willows that still stand along the race and near the Bush House, are said to be progeny of that riding-whip. The Bush House, which burned in 2006, stood on the site of the large plaster house which was the Williams' rsidence.
Below Erica and Takara are seen setting at the base of the Willow that we were able to salvage pieces from.
Apple from near Colyer Lake I am making the No.1, 2, and 3 size Shaker boxes from this unusually large apple tree that grew near Colyer Lake, here in Centre County.
This wood has an interesting mix of reddish brown colors throughout the grain.
Staghorn Sumac that grew near Howard This is usually a small tree, commonly seen along roadsides. They have dark red cone shaped seed clusters, that remain attached through the winter. No, not poison sumac; this is a totally different species. The trees were some of the largest Sumac's I have seen, and grew on my aunt and uncles farm near Howard.
Currently making just the No.2 size Saker box from these trees.
Sycamore Made utilizing a massive tree that came down during a wind storm in Wolcott, NY, on Labor Day 1998. The lumber was quartersawn, which refers to first cutting the log into quarters and then cutting boards with a radial grain. This type of cut shows the pronounce ray fleck in this wood.
Trees salvaged from Shaker Heights, Ohio
Beech This 32" diameter tree that grew along Marchmont Road came down during a July 2011 storm. Shaker Heights is the original site of the North Union Shaker Village, which was in existence from 1822 thru 1889.
At 140 years old, this tree dates back to 1871, and the final years of the North Union Village.
No.1 thru No.4 boxes are being made from this tree.
Honeylocust This is an unusual tree with thorns on the branches, and also large spine clusters which grow along the trunk. The spine clusters can create an interesting pattern in the grain of the wood.
No.1 and No.2 boxes, and also pin cushions are being made from this tree.
Silver Maple from Linn Street in Bellefonte This massive tree, 60" in diameter, was taken down in 2001 after most of the tree had become hollow. For just over100 years, this maple tree shaded one of the Victorian homes on Linn Street. The home was built in 1882 by Calvin Bower, a local attorney, and the tree appears to have been planted soon after the home was completed.
The wood from this tree had some very interesting grain patterns, from a curly figure at the base and some burls higher up in the tree.