May 032019
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Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist who loves woodworking and writing for those who also love the craft. I have found some ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop that might be helpful to you, and I enjoy hearing your own problem-solving ideasPlease share them in the COMMENTS section of each tip.  If, in the process, I can also make you laugh, I have achieved 100% of my goals.

Over the next few posts and columns we’re going to look at how I make panels from used oak flooring.

Ever since I first made a project with used oak flooring, I’ve been in love with it.

About a year ago a pile of it appeared in front of a house I pass twice every day going to and from work. I’ve always been interested in that house because it has a gigantic garage/workshop combination in the back yard. A few years ago, when it was for sale, I was tempted to get an appointment to look, just for curiosity, but I never did.

This seems to be a great house. It has changed hands only once during the 25 years I’ve been driving past it. The building in the back appears to be a spacious shop and garage.

According to the county contract, debris on the side of the road is supposed to be picked up every week. It rarely happens that way. When these folks got new wood floors, the old stuff sat on the side of the road for weeks. And weeks. I’d pass it and think, “I have no use for that wood. Why would I clog up my wood storage with something I don’t even have a plan for?”

But, day after day went by, then week after week, and I longed to “save” that wood. (Who was going to save me from craving it?)

Finally, one rainy day, I took my little utility trailer to work with me, left the office a little early, and stopped on the side of the road in front of the house.

”Man!” I thought. “This wood is a lot rougher than it looked driving by.”

When I pulled up to load this wood, I discovered it was rough. Did
the contractor pull it up with a Bobcat?

Still, I was committed. I must have looked pretty funny to people passing on the busy country road, a guy in a long-sleeved dress shirt and tie picking up
trash on the roadside.

Not only was the lumber rougher than it looked initially, there was a lot more of it once I began picking up. I couldn’t throw it in the trailer fast enough.

By the time I got home, supper was on the table. I disconnected the trailer, aimed my big, rescued fan at the wet pile and went upstairs. It had been rained on for weeks, it could take a few more weeks to dry.

Finally, I needed my trailer for another job, so I began to empty it and organize. “I might as well remove nails as I go,” I thought. I try not to talk to myself when I’m in the garage. Brenda already thinks I’m a little nutso, there’s no point in giving her more ammunition.

As I took out nails I also sorted by length, tore off loose splinters and tossed into the burn pile any boards that were obviously useless. It was soon evident that there was a lot of wood here, and, even with the recently-renovated wood storage, I wasn’t going to be able to keep it at home. Off to work it went.

Vertically stored, this oak flooring can sit here at work, out of the way, until I need it.

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

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