A Diamond in the Rough

Article - March 1, 2010

Many times, picking lumber from a pile can be a daunting task. All the wood starts to look the same and to make matters worse, the impatient lumber yard worker is standing over your shoulder waiting for you to stop being so darn picky! Its enough to make anyone so frustrated that they take the first few boards off the top of the pile and call it a day. But the more you shop for wood, the easier it becomes to spot the potentially problematic pieces and avoid them. And that usually is my primary goal. If I can go home with a nice set of clean and straight boards, I am happy. But I also have another agenda, that is, trying to spot that diamond in the rough. It may not even be something I use in the current project, but when I see a unique piece of wood, I don’t think twice about it. I snatch it up and take it home hoping that what I saw in the lumber yard truly is what I think it is.

Well today, I went to a local lumber dealer, Spellman Hardwoods. I was picking through what I considered to be a less than great selection of walnut, when I came across this board. At first glance, it looked rather rough and I almost threw it to the side. But the light hit it just the right way and I could tell that something beautiful lay within. The wild grain, the knots, the undulating waves of darker and lighter colors, were all subtle signs that this board was going to be something to behold, if treated properly. So I threw the board in with the rest of my loot and took it home to see if I was right.

I brought the board into the shop and quickly sprayed the surface with nothing more than water. Immediately, the wood came to life with swirls, curls, and contrast! My brain was immediately filled with the endless possibilities of what this deceivingly beautiful plank could become. Now because of the wild grain and knots, I doubt very much I will use this as a solid structural member for anything. Most likely, it will become a veneer panel, a drawer front, or something else where I can admire its beauty without depending on it for structural integrity.

So don’t be so quick to overlook that ugly duckling of a board. It could very well be the highlight of your next masterpiece! Have you ever found a diamond in the rough? Tell us about it!

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