Time to break out the chainsaws, grinders and wire brushes. Not really woodworking, more like log working.The two local woods we typically use are Western Maple (Figured or Unfigured) and Douglas Fir. Western Rd Cedar is available with its wonderful color and texture, but a bit soft. Local Walnut slabs can be found in large sizes, if you want to pay the price. Occasionally Madrone (Arbutus) pops up, however it sounds better than it looks. And this summer I located a pile of Sequoia slabs (spectacular color but soft like Cedar). Occasionally someone takes down an unusually huge Alder tree and saws it into a slab, and Alder slabs are better looking than they sound.
Locating a slab involves lots of emailed pictures, pages of notes, and even some phone time before going out to the mills in the region. Upon inspection, the targeted slabs often don't work out; yet something else might lurking in the yard, a fresh new direction not quite meeting the parameters yet a gem of a find for unexpected reasons. Each slab has both liabilities and a soul full of unique gem-like attributes, intertwined.