How I Find Great Wood for Turning – for FREE!
by Phil Colson
FREE WOOD – Where do you find it?
All the years I've been a woodturner, I have searched for wood.
Guess what? Free wood is everywhere. You just have to look around. Many times when I'm traveling to some random
destination, I see a pile of logs next to the road. I have learned to stop immediately and check it
out, because there's a chance the good pieces won't be there on my return trip.
I get out and assess the wood pile, checking to see if there's any wood worth turning.
Trunk wood for example is more stable than limb wood. (I'll write about the reasons for that in another tip.)
Most often the logs are stacked neatly, with the larger wood on the bottom and the smaller pieces on
top. Of course the good stuff is always on the bottom. After sorting through it and taking out what looks
good to me, I make sure to re-stack the pile so I leave it looking good.
The second way to attract free wood into your life is to always be listening for the sound of a
chainsaw in the neighborhood. Whenever I hear one, I immediately head in that direction, whether by car or on foot. When I've
tracked down the tree service making all the noise, I park my car out of their way. I walk up
to the jobsite and stand there until one of the crew notices me. I stand far enough back so I'm not in their way.
After a while the lead man on the crew generally comes over to ask me not to get
too close. That's when I pounce. "I'm a woodturner. Could I get some of this wood?" Well, the crew has to
get rid of the wood somehow anyway, so anything already moved out of the way of the sawyers usually
becomes mine for the lifting.
(By the way, stay strong my friends. Wet wood is heavy.)
I get as much as my car is able to haul, and I always make sure to thank them.
Life is good.
This tip originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Highland Woodturner
Phil can be reached directly via email at
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