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Bell Forest Hardwoods

Thinking about building a new workbench is a pastime for many woodworkers. It’s been on my mind for a few years and I have posted my thoughts a couple of times. In an attempt to spread the cost, last year I purchased hardware from Benchcrafted. This year the search for the perfect building materials began. Soft Maple, Hard Maple, Ash all come to mind; reading blogs and watching you tube there are many beautiful benches and thoughts on what’s best. There’s definitely no lack of opinion amongst woodworkers. The decision really came down to two factors, I prefer the look of maple, and soft maple is slightly easier to work. Since my tool cabinet and saw till are cherry the bench accents will also be cherry.

Two hardwood stores are within 45 minutes of my house and I’ve been to both over the last few years, they generally have what I need, but the pricing is very high. Shannon Rogers has frequently discussed lumber pricing and I am a huge believer in capitalism, if the prices I see are what the market will bare, so be it. Fortunately I travel a fair amount in my job and have been stopping at local lumber yards throughout the Midwest looking at alternatives while waiting for the weather to improve. A few weeks ago out of curiosity I had Bell Forest Products quote their Roubo Kit. My expectation was low that they would be competitive. Surprise, with shipping, straight line rip and Planing they were a few dollars cheaper!

The best part was yet to come…. Woodworker Guild Savings, and I happened to need to go to Northern Michigan University for a College Visit. Under the guise of touring colleges I ended up in Ishpeming Michigan. Exchanging a few emails with Eric at Bell Forest Products the deal was struck and date set for pick up.

I’ve read blogs and Instagram about the service and quality of the Lumber from Bell Forest Products and my skepticism faded long ago with the many comments. If any of you remain skeptics one visit and you will be sold. Over the last week Eric has sent a couple of emails updating me on my lumber status. The day before pickup he let me know it was there and waiting, pulling up and walking in the door I immediately felt welcome and comfortable. Given a choice I like to buy from people that I have met and build trust with. Mark Harrell at Bad Axe, Jason Thigpen at Texas Heritage Toolworks, all have built a reputation for quality service and I consider part of my woodworking family. I am certainly adding Eric Poirier and Bell Forest to this list.

Eric toured me around their shop and talked about their business, customer service and employees (there are eight). I was amazed that 90-95% of their business is through the internet and phone and is shipped across the country. We talked a lot about quality and expectations of customers. I think my daughter summed up the visit best “it’s really fun being around people who are passionate about what they do.” This is a direct quote.

A few photos of the lumber in their shop and the team packaging and getting shipments ready. It was a great visit and hopefully the first of many. If you are considering Bell Forest Products, don’t hesitate and if you can find an excuse to visit Northern Michigan it’s beautiful country with wonderful people. Eric, thanks for a great visit and I look forward to staying in touch.

Categories: Lumber, Roubo
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