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Woodworker Turns Your Trees Into Family Heirlooms
J.R. Manske markets every bit of the trees he cuts down, including the stump. He mills the lumber and dries it, selling boards, beams, and big slabs with live edges, as well as fine furniture. He even sells the story behind each tree.
“People like to know the story behind things,” says Manske. “It may be cheaper to buy your lumber in town, but you don’t get the story. When someone needs to take down a couple of trees to build a house, I can mill, dry and prepare the lumber for use in their home. Then they have the story behind the wood used.”
Manske has done woodworking for 22 years, nearly 9 of those years as a finish carpenter for a builder. About 5 years ago, he took the plunge and bought a sawmill and set up his own shop. Since then he has added a kiln as well as a 16-in. jointer, 20-in. planer, wide belt sander, and other tools. There isn’t much he can’t do to wood.
Sometimes it isn’t the size of the woodworking that counts. When a customer was planning a wedding, Manske cut a large cookie from a tree and milled it with the help of the groom. He then dried it in his vacuum kiln and filled the cracks with epoxy, applied vinyl lettering, and poured a clear coat over everything to accept signatures.
“I took it to the wedding, and friends and family all signed it,” says Manske. “After the wedding, I poured a few more coats over the signatures and made a custom metal, powder-coated base for it.”
Buyers can select from an inventory of kiln-dried slabs and boards. He also builds tables, cabinets and crown molding to order.
“I know where every slab I work with comes from,” says Manske.
While he doesn’t sell the bark from the trees he cuts, he is looking for a way to sell the water.
“My vacuum kiln collects the water as condensate on the ceiling,” says Manske. “At this point, it falls on the floor and drains away. I have to think someone would want to buy this tree water.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, J.R. Manske, W205 Cedar Valley Rd.,
Stoddard, Wis. 54658 (ph 608 780-4808; jr.woodworks@gmail.com; www.beneaththebarklumber.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #3