A “slab” is generally described as one piece of wood, the width of the tree from which it was sawn, with or without “live edges” (the natural shape of the tree sides), and usually quite thick. Barney and Carey has been selling slabs for years, while always seeking new sources for them. We buy them from a number of small sawmills in many New England states. They are “green” lumber, which must be air dried over a long period of time, generally one year for each inch of thickness. I heat up paraffin wax on a hotplate to liquify it, then paint it on the ends of green lumber to prevent “checking” (splitting) as it dries. A few mills offer kiln drying, but that is rare. Personally, I have never been able to detect any differences between wood that has been air dried, or kiln dried, but I have heard arguments that one way is better than the other. Either way, the moisture content must be low enough for stability, around 12 – 15%, depending on the species. We stack slabs and thinner pieces INDOORS, placing wood slats (“stickers”) between each piece, and running exhaust fans to move out the moisture.

For some time, one of our competitors would bring giant slabs to us for surfacing on our CNC machine, which can handle up to 60″ wide! These giants, including pieces that had been sawn right through the crotch of a tree, were destined to become gorgeous conference or boardroom tables, dining room tables, etc. Recently, he told us that he was getting out of the slab business, and would we be interested in buying him out. Upon inspection, we found a huge inventory of high quality slabs in a large number of species and sizes- what turned out to be four flatbed truckloads, piled high- I bought it all!

The species include Walnut, Cherry, Pine, Mahogany, Poplar, Monkey Pod, Birch, Camphor, and others. I always thought of Camphor as an ingredient in cough drops and Vap-O-Rub, but never knew it came from a tree! It does, and has the same distinctive aroma! Our biggest problem was where to store and display it all. One of our tenants in Avon graciously agreed to give back some of the space they were renting, which is now our “Slab Room.”

The bottom line is that you really have to see it! The accompanying photos will give you an idea of what we have, and the selection is mind boggling, as are the things that you, our superb woodworker/customers can make of them! We even have a number of slabs that were sawn from the same curved tree trunk. I can see these being glued up to form a curved bar top, or a centerpiece coffee table. Of course, like all our hardwoods and pine, you can buy pieces as is, or have us perform any degree of surfacing, fabrication, or finishing that you would like. We have a few finished pieces on display, so you can see what your choice will look like wearing a few coats of poly.

As of now, there are few retailers who can offer our range of slab inventory and finishing services. We have live edge, with or without bark, square edge, narrow, wide (up to 60″), short, long, and thick (up to 6″) in so many species! Please come over and “window shop;” I’m sure you will be impressed!

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