First, I have to admit that I am not a woodworker, nor do I have a woodshop in my garage. However, I do love
wood. I always have.
I first appreciated the beauty of wood while admiring sculptures carved by my uncle, Bob Knauer, who, in his
sophomore year, placed third in a juried show at the Cleveland Institute of Art. His entry was a sculpture of his
left hand carved from exotic wood collected during his travels as a WWII foot soldier. For my eighth birthday,
he gave me a 15-foot high, hand-carved totem pole complete with winged beasts and other critters. (I always
accused my older sister of modeling for one of the beasts.)
Now, more than a half a century later, I am in the deconstruction business salvaging lumber—among other
things. While I get a kick out of seeing an old craftsman window, or a beautiful 1930s porcelain pedestal sink,
seeing a unit of old 2x8s salvaged from a deconstructed house really turns me on—weird huh? I guess it’s the
memory of those beautiful things Bob carved that gets me imagining the next life a piece of that lumber might
have. Windows and sinks don’t have much choice in their afterlife. They may be used as decorative hangings or
planters, but their form doesn’t change. A chunk of lumber has infinite possibilities.
TRP sells the lumber from deconstruction projects into a myriad of markets. Sometimes a chunk of lumber
becomes a framing member in a remodeling project. Truthfully, that’s probably where the vast majority of
lumber goes. Even without the proper grade stamp, salvaged lumber can be used for framing, as long as it’s a
non-structural element, or if the local inspector or structural engineer signs off on its use. But even the lowly
2×4 can generate some excitement. It might go into a new green construction project, or wind up as part of a
decorative display in a LEED Gold building, such as the project we did at Texas State Technical College in
Other uses are more glamorous, of course. Talented woodworkers turn our old growth, Douglas Fir into
beautiful furniture. A mill produces tongue and groove flooring from some of our lumber. A post-and-beam
builder uses larger dimensional beams in the construction of new custom homes. Old double teardrop and
shiplap redwood siding is often expertly resurfaced to match the siding on existing period homes
Straight-grained Douglas fir and maple bowling alley lanes and gymnasium floors have wound up as floors,
tables, countertops and bars from Ketchum, Idaho, to North Haven, Connecticut—from Bahia de Los Angeles
in Baja to the Tonga Islands and beyond for all I know. Still, for me, it doesn’t matter the species, dimension or
grade. It’s wood, it’s got warmth and its going to serve another great purpose for someone, somewhere.
So, for a former investment banker what’s the bottom line? Hell, I don’t know, but for an old lumber hugger it
means a great big smile and maybe another story.