Douglas-fir sources

We source salvaged Douglas-Fir from old barn structures and historical buildings built in Oregon, and we are very passionate about this material. The best architectural salvage in our area is coming from old houses built before 1930. We scout for dimensional lumber, that we like to call “True Dimensional”, because each board was specifically cut at nominal measurements. We are searching for high quality old-growth lumber from trees that were probably 300-400 years old when they were felled at the turn of the 20th century. This reclaimed building material is very valuable and sought after due to it’s antiquity, availability, and premium grade. We have discovered rare finds, and consider ourselves “pickers” in the salvaged wood business. We work closely with local decommission crews who dismantle old buildings by hand. It takes a lot of time and patience to properly remove materials from these retired structures. More often than not, dying buildings become demolished and thrown into a land fill. To preserve the integrity of the lumber, the materials have to be deconstructed carefully and strategically. Every floor joist and wall support is tediously de-nailed one by one. It is worth the value and hard work in the end. This high quality material is hard to find today. Early craftsmen style homes and buildings used old-growth lumber for construction throughout the early development of this region. We hope to see these precious resources saved for the love of the land.   

Doug-fir has remarkable grain patterns upon cross cutting, including simple but beautiful clear vertical grain (known as CVG). A quarter sawn section of the tree that is very straight, strong, and knot free. I also enjoy the wild patterns and texture revealed in wide planks of flat sawn lumber. As the wood ages, the surface oxidizes over time and takes on a unique color and texture that cannot be replicated. I never know what I’m going to uncover in this business, but that’s half the fun. Every piece takes on its own identity. Revealing its history through weathered rough hewn saw marks and blackened mineral stains left behind from old rusty nails.

These giving trees have served multiple purposes before being resurrected into functional art. Against the Grain furniture hold tremendous history and strength, by capturing recycled energy, from the original spirit of Oregon’s old-growth forests.

About Wood

Old growth forests

Once upon a time, in the Northwest frontier, lived an ancient, old-growth forest, and it grew for thousands of years. The forest  landscape embodied lush evergreens, gorgeous rivers, coastal cliffs, and several misty mountain ranges. These forests were dominated by the tallest trees in the world.

Lungs for our planet

Trees breathe deeply acting as the lungs of our planet, they give us oxygen, provide sanctuary for animals and a habitat for plants and other species. Trees have a very gentle strength and living energy, obtaining many memories and experiences over many of our lifetimes. Trees sustain our land’s ground water, and absorb an astounding amount of carbon inside themselves.

The magnificent Douglas-fir

Amidst the Oregon wilderness lies various species of coniferous trees but the Doug-fir can be distinguished from the blues and greens, and by the soft lines of their flat leaves. Old-growth Doug-fir is extremely resilient and adaptive to the Northern environment and happens to be honored as the state tree of Oregon. Surviving in cold winters and in the nutrient-poor, sandy soil deposited by glaciers, the Doug-fir begins as tiny seedlings, forming into young saplings and endures many seasons before gaining enormous girth and reaching towering heights. The Doug-fir is recorded to grow up to and over 400 years old, 400 ft. tall, and 40 ft. In circumference, though today one will rarely see Pacific Coast Fir in its giant form.

Forest destruction

Sadly, most of the ancient old-growth forests were felled at the turn of the century in order to feed humanity’s immense growth and greed. From the appalachians to the cascades, ‘man’ basically has done the job of stripping our country from its old roots by wildfires and logging. One of our great mistakes was to ferociously chop down these sacred trees with haste as it takes an incredible amount of energy to clear a forest, and the impact leaves a terrible footprint of destruction. Losing our tree roots devastates the environment’s infrastructure, which contributes to fertile soil erosion and a dried out water table. Ultimately, we have been building a baron desert around us.

The great cause in destroying old-growth forests was to fuel the turning wheel of the industrial revolution. Old fir was sought out for its strong and straight fibrous material, good enough to build ships, airplanes, and definitely the sturdiest building structures. A major resource for wood in the Northwest are the North American conifers, these trees are a vital part to our eco-system, but they are being vastly depleted and exported all over the world. We have been consistently receding our back-country without correctly replenishing this resource. It takes generations to recover these forests and trees, if we are even able to repair these man-made scars at all.

Return to sanity

After 1930 there was a government limit to the use of the old-growth trees because most of them were already strategically removed. The city of Portland, OR is a good example of clear-cutting and is historically nicknamed ‘stumptown’ because the entire location was cleared to make room for exponential growth. Portland's stumps were finally removed during the mid-century development of the city. On trips to the Oregon coast, or towards the Cascades, one can plainly see the areas of past clear-cutting, we know of it’s looming sadness, and it’s difficult not to be stricken by a negative emotion from that point of view.

We borrow this world from our children, but regardless, we tend to undermine values and act very wastefully. It is up to our current innovators to find real solutions within alternative building materials and methods. It is very important to manage forests responsibly. We can change industrial patterns and prevent complete destruction of our most valuable assets. Thinning out the runts to keep the old trees growing faster, and diversely planting native trees in cleared areas for the future, are very important aspects to maintain our natural resources. In turn, we can create jobs balancing the forests, which will also prevent carbonous wildfires. We need to learn how to understand nutrient rich soil, control invasive species without the use of chemicals, and work in harmony with nature.

Against the Grain is optimistic for the world.

Close up of pine needles

Old-growth forest

Trees are integral to the natural beauty and health of our surroundings