BUYING AND. SELLING WOOD
s a supplier of hardwoods and fine veneers for the last 20 years, I have been privileged to get to know some of the finest woodworkers in North America. I’ve also learned a lot about wood and its qualities, not only the good qualities, but the baffling ones as well.
Looking back, I suppose my own interest in wood began many years before I established my company. In fact, I can vividly recall my first hands-on experience with a piece of Brazilian rosewood—completely captivating!
That was in the mid-’60s, and in those days wood turners, luthiers and furniture - makers had little to choose from in the way of different woods. Although they could read wonderful descriptive passages about Macassar ebony, satinwood, kingwood, and so on, trying to find a reliable source for all those fine woods was next to impossible. The need to inventory a selection of wood for the furniture that I pictured myself making was one of the reasons I started my wood dealership in 1973.
My furnituremaking gradually tapered off, and by 19751 was putting all my efforts into the task of marketing and selling fine hardwoods and veneers. At that time, everyone said the rain forests would go on forever, and that there was so much wood in the Amazon that we would never run out. However, the passage of time and the demand for wood have done two things to the timber trade: First, a proliferation of wood dealers and wood varieties have entered the marketplace—a plus for those of us who love wood. Second, we became complacent about the true value of various species and the sustainability of their supply. We are now only too aware that the rain forests may not go on forever.
Although the problems causing deforestation are very complex, there are steps that woodworkers should take to help improve the situation. “Measure twice and cut once” may seem almost too basic, but it can make a difference in reducing our consumption. Using veneer whenever possible is another step in the right direction.
I’ve become an active member of the Woodworkers Alliance for Rainforest Protection. WARP was founded in 1989 by a concerned group of woodworkers, wood turners, luthiers, wood merchants, tool dealers and lovers of wood. Central to many of its programs, WARP encourages the use of wood from sustainable or well-managed sources. It is now evident that much has to change in global forestry practices over the next few years if woodworkers in the future are to enjoy the remarkable selection of wood that is available to all of us today.
Andrew Poynter holds a piece of redwood burl at his store, A & M Wood Specialty Inc., in Cambridge, Ontario. The company sells more than 100 types of wood to woodworkers throughout North America.