When it comes to resources for the Kzoo Makers, having local connections creates the best benefits. If you have visited the Kzoo Makers space, then you already know how much the wood shop has grown. What you might not know is how to find the wood for your projects.Yes, you can go to a store such as Menards or Lowe’s, and those stores definitely get business from members. Did you know that there are local mills where everything is acquired and cut by local sawyers? On June 21, 2017, a group of Kzoo Makers and community members accepted an invitation to take a tour with Dan Wilkins and Mark Bush at Ideal Lumber and Woodworking in Lawton, MI.
If the hosts of the tour seem familiar, you would be correct. Dan is the person most often seen at Kzoo Makers since he runs the daily operations. Mark is also a member and likely would be talking with Dan in the Kzoo Makers office or working on a project in the woodshop.
Wednesday’s tour began at the solar kiln, which Mark and Dan built. On the outside, it looks like a big garage. Inside, the temperature stays at 125 degrees (F). We walked in and closed the side door to feel the heat. It felt warm like a sauna. I took a picture of the thermostat after Dan opened the big door and it showed a decrease to 107 degrees (F). A few of us climbed up a ladder to see the top level. Did you notice the fans? They help the air circulate and they help to maintain the temperature so it does not exceed the 125 degrees. Can you imagine being up there on a sunny day before the fan installation? In a word – hot.
The wood sitting inside the kiln is drying out enough to make it usable for projects. Later, near the mill area, one of the member tested the percentage of water in the wood with a hydrometer. This percentage is important to know because it could be the determining factor of a project.
For the demonstrations, Mark and Dan cut a cedar log and then a cherry log. Both are hard woods. Some of that wood may be part of future Kzoo Makers projects. Going through a mill such as Mark and Dan’s means supporting a local business, keeping costs down and quality up. If you want to see the demonstrations, check out the videos below. Want more information about Kzoo Makers, the woodshop, or the Ideal Lumber and Woodworking business? See the contact information here.
Cedar demonstration here.
Cherry demonstration here.