We made a trip to the Bay Area a few weeks ago and stopped along the way at a place I’ve been wanting to visit for several years. A guy I know builds laminated wood compound bows for big game hunting and told me this is the place to go if you’re looking for exotic hardwoods.
I need to eventually rebuild those teak caps on the recently repaired cockpit coamings. We salvaged one of the old ones but it was perforated with screw plug holes, and the other was so badly split that it came off in pieces. I’ll cut the good one up later and use it for something else. The curved end caps are still usable but need some tweaking to fit my new glasswork. Meanwhile, I need to find a pretty big (read: expensive) hunk of teak to replace what I’ve torn off. At 11 inches wide, the coaming caps are probably the single widest solid planks of wood in the boat’s construction.
Finding long pieces of wood is relatively easy. Trees are tall. Finding wide pieces of wood is not so easy. Trees need to grow very tall and/or very old before they become even moderately wide. This makes them very expensive. 40 years ago they were clear-cutting tropical rain forests and no one really gave it a thought. Wood was cheap and the quality was great. Now that most of the big trees are gone, lumber from smaller plantation-grown trees are dominating the market. It’s still expensive and the quality is weak. With the ever increasing political bullshit & back room bribes that it takes to import such an “environmentally controversial” product from a Third World country, the price of exotic hardwoods has sky rocketed over the last 15 or 20 years. The good stuff is just getting harder and harder to find.
I’ve been to a few hardwood places in the Sacramento area over the years and the selection is so-so. Not here though. MacBeath Hardwood in Berkeley is one of those few places that still has quality sizes of lumber available in just about every species imaginable. There’s a separate room with drawers full of exotic veneers to lay over less expensive woods if that’s your thing. Need sheets of marine grade teak or mahogany plywood for your 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 inch thick bulkheads? They have those, and other species available for cary-out. Sanding disks, saw blades, and stains and varnishes as well. If you like making little pieces of wood out of big pieces of wood, you need to give this place a look.