The image at right kind of sums up what my days look like working at the lumber yard.
Sexy and exciting right?
What you are seeing is 3 screens of questions and internet searches relating to lumber problems.
- What do you know about this species? (usually referencing a trade name I’ve never heard of)
- Why is my siding spacing no longer even?
- What is the best species to use for…
- How do I get the color even on these boards?
- Where does this lumber come from and how do I know it is legally sourced?
- Will this species be strong enough for my application?
- What do you mean by this 5/4, 8/4, 4/4 thickness term?
- What plywood grade do I need for…?
- What the heck is a board foot?
- and my favorite… Who do you think you’re kidding with that price, you dirty crook!
Most of the questions and search queries actually come from professional woodworkers, builders, and manufacturers. The iPad in the picture is actually showing inquiries to my personal site, The Renaissance Woodworker, from mostly hobby woodworkers.
Also pay close attention to the coffee mug in the foreground. I promise there is coffee in there, but I would be lying if I said I wished it was something stronger. Don’t get me wrong, I love that I get these questions. It is an affirmation that I’m doing something right when I structured the J. Gibson McIlvain content campaign and site redesign around being a thought leader in the industry. We share a lot about wood here, that’s our job. But it continues to shock me how little the general market knows about wood, how it behaves, and how to work with it.
As a company that has been selling lumber long enough to have Presidents Adams and Jefferson as former customers, we know a lot about wood. I firmly believe I got this job several years ago because of my passion for wood and eagerness to learn more about it. I fit right in here immediately. And learn I have indeed! Quickly too.
It seems there was a void that was waiting to be filled, and all someone had to do was put up some helpful web pages that answer species and import questions, and that would spark a bunch more questions. You all have truly expanded my own knowledge base through the questions you have asked, and there have been more than a couple furniture pieces that left my personal workshop made from a species I had never previously worked with – until someone asked me a question and forced me to learn more about it.
No one can possibly have the answer to every wood related question with so many variables in play, but it sure is fun finding those answers! Nowhere else can I expect to get a question about Ipe decking used in a boardwalk immediately followed by a Myanmar import question and then a query about the design values of Sapele vs Genuine Mahogany. And that was before 8:30 this morning!
Here’s the thing, I want your questions. I want to help, I love talking to people about wood and helping to unlock the endless possibilities that come with this ancient and renewable building material. If I don’t have the answer, I’ll do my very best to find it for you. My job is not specifically to sell you more sticks of lumber.
(well that’s not entirely true, I am a marketer)
However, I have a sales force here of talented people who develop the lumber price quotes and stuff like that. Rather, my job is to educate you on the eccentricities and the wonder that is wood. To help you solve current and future problems with your project is something I truly enjoy. And, if you pick up some tips and knowledge along the way that you can share with others, all the better.
So bring it on! What are you waiting for? Ask a question by clicking here or you can always visit the “contact us” page found in the menu bar above. I get a lot of questions, but more are always welcome. We can’t expect you to know everything about all things wood, but the lumber dealer should be the person who does right?
I look forward to talking with you!
Director of Marketing (and the guys that writes all this stuff)
PS: While not free like this article says, for those who may be interested, I am presenting a webinar for Popular Woodworking on May 28th, 2014 that lays out an easy way to help you choose a wood species for a project and what to expect when working with that particular type of wood.