Reclaiming urban trees

Left to right: Dale Williamson, Sandy Williamson, Terry Caldwell, La Vor Smith, presenter Elma Von Michaelis, Bruce Hale

Pam Boedeker

When someone loves what they are doing their enthusiasm is spread throughout the room. That was the case with SaddleBrooke Nature Club’s speaker, La Vor Smith.

LaVor was a carpenter then construction supervisor in Boise, Idaho. As he approached retirement he shared his dream with cousin, Rex Condi, who lived in Phoenix. LaVor had always wanted to have a sawmill! Cousin Rex agreed to build one! In return LaVor renovated a room in Rex’s house.

And so a business was born. Now it needed a name. The men’s grandfather had designed a brand for his ranch. It was an empty wine glass with a bar under it. Wine Glass Bar Sawmill became the company name.

Operating on a shoestring budget, the men bartered with a local company. For five semi loads of pine they sharpened the company’s blades. At the time their intention was to make fine quality barn siding and wood for constructing window boxes.

Then the men heard of a mesquite tree in Phoenix which had been taken down by a power company. The tree was free if they removed it from the property. Beautiful planks of coyote shaped wood resulted from that first urban tree.

As the sawmill has became known, tree services deliver urban trees to the men by the semi load. The mill will also pick up trees to be sawn.

Three to four million board feet of urban lumber go into landfills every year!

Sawmills like this can save aborists the time and expense of taking the trees to the dump. They help the environment by reducing the carbon that is released into the atmosphere as well. If you need an arborist take a look at tree survey.

The men have found that there is much more to owning a sawmill than they ever imagined. They have added a kiln to dry the wood and rid it of critters. A second saw has been added to accommodate wood 48” wide and 15” long. Cut planks are stacked in the yard for customers to see.

In older areas of cities across the country trees that were planted for landscape around newly built houses have now matured and die or blow over during storms. Here in Arizona Mesquite, Olive, Pecan, Canary Island Pine, Acacia, Pistachio and Silk Oak trees can become beautiful lumber with history!

Wine Glass Bar Sawmill is devoted to promoting local artists’ use of their lumber. A young craftsman can take home two pieces of wood.

One is finished and returned to Wine Glass Bar Sawmill. The other can be finished and sold by the craftsman. Shops around Arizona in such areas as Sedona now sell benches, tables, mantles, lamps, furniture and other decorative items made from the sawmill’s wood. Craftsmen can make a living working with wood from the sawmill.

With a sparkle in his eye LaVor said you never know what is going to be inside a log until you open it. It’s just like a box of chocolate.

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