My extended family is from the rural part of Washington State, near Mount Saint Helens, so I’ve been searching for some wood that represents that area as a special gift for my mother. One of the first places I looked was a store called Second Use, a reclaimed lumber and salvage company based in Seattle.
Store manager Chris Aveeno turned me on to one of their most unique products, called teredo clam wood. This reclaimed lumber represents one of the first major industries in Washington State, logging.
As it was described in the Seattle Times:
The first time (Bill) Sibbett saw “bookmatched sets” of boards cut from boomsticks — consecutive slices, laid side by side, to form a mirror image of the clam trails — the patterns took his breath away.
“It was like a thunder egg,” he says. Ugly on the outside. Otherworldly within.
Somebody surely wants this stuff, for something, he thought. “It’s native! Kind of beachy. Kind of nautical.”
Boomsticks aren’t exploding sticks of dynamite. They are the fir logs that used to be used as “floats” to contain the more valuable lumber as it was floated down the rivers to the mills. Anything that spends an extended amount of time in the water, like these boomsticks, develops small holes in the bottom.
The holes, as any waterman will tell you, are created by shipworms. Shipworms actually aren’t worms at all, but are clams who build their homes inside the wood. In Washington State, these are the Teredo clams creating intricate patterns in the wood.
(Sibbet) shows off one where the clams have unwittingly etched out a sea turtle; another the stick-figure image of a juggler, with a series of tree knots above its head serving as balls in the air. And so on. That, he says, is the magic of the wood — and why it’s catching on among people who increasingly appreciate ordinary objects that come with a unique story.
“It’s interdisciplinary mishmash,” Sibbett says of the wood, and his new occupation: a product of the accidental genius of nature.
Really, the wood represents everything Sibbett has always loved about the Northwest, all in one simple, mill-run package. And if he can put that right in your face, on a wall, or under your feet, via flooring, so much the better.
There is a magic to every wood I work with here at StoryWood. But this family connection to the teredo lumber’s one-of-a-kind story.. it makes it even more special!
What story can we help you tell?