Rich Eberly: A Sawyer Experience

by Cian Perez

"I finished your slabs. The two I sent photos of earlier at 6"x2.75", 8"x2.75" and 2@ 9"x 2.75" x 9'6". I just wanted confirmation that it is enough for your tabletop before I cut the rest in 4/4 stock. "

And this pretty much sums up my experience with Rich, and that is nothing short of complete customer service!

I met Rich Eberly online in October 2004 in Woodnet. I read an exchange between him and another Woodnetter concerning lumber, so I figure I'd give him a shot to see where he'd price Maple lumber for me. I had originally acquired nearly 300 boardfeet of Ash for my workbench project, but this being a Eurpoean design workbench, I figure Maple would've been a better traditional choice.

So I got to talkin' to Rich. He's a third generation tree farmer and currently owns and manages his own tree farm in southwest lower Michigan. His main lumber crop is Red Maple and Cherry and he estimates that he has approximately 15,000 (that's right - Fifteen THOUSAND!) trees on his property. Apparently, he farms Red Maple versus the Hard Maple that I wanted for my workbench. Well, I did some research and chatted with my other fellow Woodnetters, and I was advised (I had to ask given that I'm utterly clueless) that Red Maple was definitely a superb choice. Furthermore, Rich was willing to work with me on the price to be more attractive vs what I could get Hard Maple for locally.

Well I was in for a treat, 'cuz not only was Rich willing to be price competitive, he was also gonna make sure he milled the lumber to my specifications! This is certainly way outta' my league, given that I never really made anything out of rough lumber yet and didn't know where to start let alone what to ask for! Up to this point, I've been nothing but a bookwarm and a tool horder. (Hey, so I like to read a lot, and who can have enough tools?)

Through careful discussion over the next couple weeks and periodic referencing of my design sketches and books, I ended up buying a tree (yes, I bought a Maple tree!) from Rich, and he's gonna mill and (solar) kiln-dry it to my desired dimensions. (More on the solar kiln later.) I couldn't have asked for a more ideal situation! My workbench plans call for a 24" width x 7' length x 2-1/4" deep (this was VERY conservative dimensions) massive slap top of quartersawn material. As was shown by his statement above, not only did he cater to my needs, he exceeded them! The balance of the 200 board feet that the tree will produce will be made into 4/4 boards.

His solar kiln process will take about two months to dry the wood to the preferred 8-10% moisture content, which pegs this as a Christmas time pickup for me.

The following pics were provided by Rich during the entire tree harvesting/milling process and more will be added as they become available:










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©2004 Cian Perez /