The Giant Maple

by | Mar 1, 2020 | 4 comments

I visited with Curtis Buchanan last week, building Velda’s chairs and going over his new plans for the Velda’s chair.  On the way to his TN home, I dropped off Tomi’s Birdcage Side Chair.  Here’s a story about her chair:

Last week, I was at the lathe turning crests for a Birdcage Side Chair from some of the nicest sugar maple I’ve had in years. Turning crests is pretty easy, so my mind drifted back to the trek when I, with my love Morgan, picked up this log …

We departed NC with sacks of clothes and a two-gallon pot of popcorn for the road. We love popcorn. We spent the night at my mentor Curtis Buchanan’s house and left with a big box of chair plans for my students. We drove on though the Cumberland Gap to Berea, KY for a week with Morgan’s family, who were busy cleaning out their basement.

From the old family dairy farm, we inherited a yoke with two bent-hickory bows that went around the oxen’s necks and a Maple Syrup sign that now hangs in our kitchen. Then we were given a ten-pound splitting maul, a large toolbox complete with handsaw, drawknife and electrical tape, and some plastic storage bins.

Driving home, we stopped at the Tennessee log yard where Wade had set aside a maple for me. I got out of the truck, stretched and walked over to the only maple log I could see, a beautiful giant with “252” sprayed on the butt. A log scaling at 252 board feet weights close to 1500 lbs. Could I haul it? Should I buy it? I couldn’t decide.

Well, I finally bought it. While Morgan unloaded the basement finds from our truck, I cut the log into sections. By the time she was done, our corner of the log yard looked like a miniature flea market. Wade walked up and admired our ox yoke. A logger with kind eyes strolled over and asked if we needed a hand.

The four of us rolled the log piece by piece up a ramp into the truck, followed by all our stuff. By the time we were done, you couldn’t have fit a hammer anywhere under the truck’s camper top. The rear bumper was dangerously close to the ground as we slowly headed home.

Wade called the next week. “Just wanted to check on you. Did you make it back alright?”

“Yes — thanks!” I said. “I’ve been splitting that log up today, and it sure is a beauty.”

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JB Corey
4 years ago

I found myself smiling while reading your whole blog. Not just a great woodworker, you also tell a good story.

4 years ago

I never regretted buying the van I did with the extra 200kg carrying capacity versus the other models/ brands in the same class… and yet I still find cause to overload it from time to time.

4 years ago

Man, I wish I had access to maple logs of any size, much less one the size you describe. Glad you got it…

Steve Harper
4 years ago

Can’t wait to see what you do with it. Thanks for sharing, Elia.

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