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Southern Oregon Maker: Bob White

Lakeview reclaimed lumber craftsman Bob White brings new life to old timbers

By Kim Cooper Findling

Bob White wasn’t really planning to move to Lakeview, Oregon from his home in Sandy, Oregon. But he knew the opportunity of a lifetime when he heard about one. The longtime woodworker and furniture maker moved from the north end of Oregon to the south end two years ago, following the biggest timber purchase he’d ever made—or most people will ever make. A Craigslist ad for five million board feet of timber—or, White figures, the equivalent of 800,000 trees—caught his attention. Soon after, he was the lucky buyer, with a huge project on his hands.

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“I’ll never get through it in my lifetime,” White said. Even the thought of moving it all after buying it was overwhelming. Instead, “I bought the land under it,” said White. “Thirty acres.” A 90,000 square foot wood grain building was purchased too, on another thirty acres, to use as a shop. Each day, White is there with a small crew, processing the lumber into furniture, mantels, siding, flooring and wall paneling.

The timber came to White in the form of crane mats—timbers bolted together as platforms for heavy machinery. The crane mats were created for use in the construction of a pipeline through Lakeview in 2010. “None of the wood is native,” White said. “It all came from back east.” He’s discovered four different oaks as well as hickory and birch, and a few unidentified mystery woods. What he does know for certain is that it’s all hardwood—really hard wood. “It’s the hardest wood I’ve ever dealt with,” he said. “If we’re really working, we go through 14 saw blades a day processing it.”

Buyers for his products come from all over, mainly Portland, but locations throughout the west. White’s favorite projects are tabletops. The wood is so varied that he never really knows what will come of it until he processes a timber and treats it with tongue oil. “The colors, patterns and possibilities are like a mosaic,” he said.

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For White, the lumber represents the opportunity to make beautiful products for satisfied customers, but also to put forth effort towards sustainability. Before he came along, some of the logs were used as firewood. Now, they adorn homes and businesses, perhaps saving other trees from harvest. White has come to love living in Lakeview, too. “It’s nice here,” he said. “There’s no rain.”

Lakeview Reclaimed Lumber is located at 1564 NE 4 th St. in Lakeview, Oregon. Please call ahead for an appointment to see products and projects on hand.

www.lakeviewreclaimedlumber.com

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