Virgin Timber Lumber Co.

Virgin Timber Lumber Benches - They're Built to Last a Lifetime

a finished wooden bench hand made at Virgin Timber Lumber

"Anything worth doing is worth doing right." - Hunter S. Thompson

That mantra could very well be our motto. It pervades every aspect of our work at Virgin Timber Lumber Co. We spend a great deal of effort in obtaining our lumber. It's dirty work. It's physically demanding and dangerous. That's why we take such great care to design and craft furniture that will stand the test of time. It would be insane to waste all the effort on something cheaply built and disposable.

That philosophy went into the design of our benches, which can be customized to a variety of lengths. Fused into one solid piece with mortise and tenon joinery, they are incredibly stable and rigid. The bench surface is constructed from re-milled rough cut framing timbers that have been laminated into a solid slab.

finishing a wooden bench with tung oil mixture

The legs are constructed from short lengths of old, rough cut 2x4's. To attach the legs to the seating surface, we use a hand cut double mortise and tenon joint. Each one is individually worked and tailored for a tight fit.

image of double mortise sockets with double tenons on legs ready for assembly

Why a double mortise and tenon? It has to do with the structural properties of the wood grain and the effectiveness of the glue surfaces. Using a single, wide tenon would expose a weakness in the end of the slab. If you torqued the leg just right, it would be easy for the end grain of the bench slab to crack and break out. The strip of wood between the two mortise sockets provides stability for this end grain to prevent the aforementioned undesirable phenomena. A double mortise and tenon joint also provides twice the effective side grain to side grain gluing surface.

reclaimed wood bench with legs assembled

The result is an incredibly rigid bench that is simple in form. Each one is unique and beautiful, and built to last a lifetime. Prices for benches range from $275-$350 for our standard size, which is 49" long. It's a nice size for two. Benches can be made in lengths up to nine feet. 

Heirloom Table Created from Grandpa's Old Barn Wood

This beautiful table has a reclaimed American chestnut wooden top and custom built steel base.

One of the most rewarding aspects of producing (and purchasing!) furniture from reclaimed lumber, is in knowing that in some way we are helping to preserve the history that is carried in each piece of wood. We recently had an opportunity to create a meaningful heirloom that took this concept one step further.

Jason and Joanna are some of my oldest paddling friends. Now married and living in the Washington DC area, they commissioned VTLC to build a small dining table using some wood from Jason's old family home place in the coal fields of Raleigh County, West Virginia. When their land was purchased by the mining company fifty years ago, Jason's grandfather tore down some of the structures from the family property and used the reclaimed wood to build a variety of outbuildings at his new place in Beckley.

Though I never had the opportunity to meet Jason's grandfather, I think that we would have gotten along very nicely. This guy had lumber stacked up everywhere in his old recycled buildings. I thought that I was the only crazy guy that salvaged and collected buckets of old rusty nails... Nope, Jason's grandpa was a hoarder just like me.

After surveying the available wood in his stacks, I walked down the hill to check out an old log building that had once been home to the family mule. It was around the back of this building where I found Jason and Joanna's table top. Nailed to the side of the barn were a number of 12" wide wormy chestnut planks that had obviously been exposed to the elements for many years.

the wormy chestnut wooden planks were found on the back side of an old mule shed. Exposed to the elements for over 4 decades, the chestnut was weathered but still in great shape

Braving the early June poison ivy, I pried the boards from the barn and loaded them up into my truck. The first thing that I noticed was how straight they were, and then that they were still in excellent condition. American chestnut lumber is extremely rot resistant. I couldn't believe how well they weathered what must have been more than four decades.

chestnut planks arrive at the wood shop

Brian took over once the boards arrived at the shop. Ripping them in half first, he milled them into flat 6" stock and arranged them into a beautiful table top composition. The weathered surfaces contained deep coloration and texture that we knew would eventually produce a very special surface.

the boards were milled flat, arranged and glued together into a nice table top surface

Welded out of 2" square stock, the steel table base was custom built by Devo from Liquid Metal Fab. Because it was welded into one rigid piece, adjustable feet were added to level the table on virtually any floor. The steel was left "raw", washed and coated with polyurethane to prevent rusting. It turned out to be a beautiful and solid base that was simple in form. A perfect compliment to the top!

the steel table base was washed and coated with polyurethane

After being sanded to perfection, many coats of clear satin polyurethane were used to finish the table top. The oxidized and weathered surfaces really came to life when finish was applied. Contributing to this exquisite table top were the deeply stained "cracks" and nail holes that could only be formed from years and years of exposure.

Jason dropped in to pick up the table just in time for Thanksgiving. The top fit nicely into the back of his Jetta wagon, but the base had to be strapped to his kayak rack on top! I'm sure that he turned some heads on the interstate during his trip back to DC.

We are glad to hear how much they are enjoying the table. Seeing that Jason's grandfather passed away last spring, it feels good to create such a meaningful heirloom for my friends. It's also pretty cool that the lumber in this table has been recycled twice!

Everyone Loves this Poplar Shelving Unit

full view of an eight foot tall poplar reclaimed wood shelving unit

After doing some renovations to their older home, some local friends of ours brought in some nice wide planks that they obtained when tearing out an interior wall. They wanted us to build them a book shelf and thought that it would be cool to reuse some of the old material for the project. The wood turned out to be poplar, and though they did not provide nearly enough material to supply for the design, we were able to supplement with some of the reclaimed lumber in our stock.

dado joints secure the shelving into the vertical supports

We use a classic design for our shelving systems that is both beautiful and extremely sturdy. Dado joints cut into the thicker vertical supports accept the shelving providing excellent support and resistance to movement. This design can be applied to any size and configuration, and we regularly design, build and install shelving for a variety of applications.

poplar heartwood exhibits vivid colors and textures

To make nice flat surfaces for the shelves, the wide planks had to be ripped in half, re-milled, and glued back together. The resulting surfaces exposed vividly colored poplar heartwood with shades of yellow, green and even purple. We made it a point to save the front faces of the shelves from milling in order to preserve the warm patina and original saw marks from the antique planks. This provided an interesting contrast between the distressed outer layer, and the wood grain within.

shelf backing exhibiting warm color tones and original circular saw marks from milling over a hundred years ago

Further accentuating this contrast, the heavily weathered planks we chose for the shelf backing (also Poplar) were only lightly sanded before being coated with polyurethane. This showcased the warm color tones in the lumber's original patina and preserved original saw marks to be enjoyed.

square nails are a testament to the age of the lumber we used for this project

The vertical side supports were created by milling up and gluing together 2" thick framing lumber. The front faces of the side supports were loaded with stained nail holes, and as a testament to the age of the lumber, we accidentally hit some of the square iron nails hiding inside the wood during the re-milling process and left them as part of the finished face.

A New Bar for Chetty's Pub

John and Gabe pose for a photo after completing work on the reclaimed American Chestnut bar at Chetty's Pub

With an amazing cliff top setting overlooking the New River Gorge and Bridge, Adventures on the Gorge Resort offers a wide variety of activities for guests looking to experience excitement in the mountains and rivers of southern West Virginia. In addition to all of the adventure activities, the all inclusive resort also offers upscale dining and lodging at their base camp.

aerial view of Adventures on the Gorge Resort with the New River Gorge Bridge in the background

This winter AOTG has been undertaking massive improvements including a new Frisbee golf course, high ropes obstacle course, a fabulous two tiered clifftop swimming pool and a total remodel and expansion of Chetty's Pub known to many as the home of Monday's Wing Night. With a two story timber framed interior, Chetty's Pub already had a nice open floor plan, but the owners really made some improvements that will allow for better traffic flow, service and all around quality of experience for restaurant guests. Not to mention, it looks AWESOME in there now!

Virgin Timber Lumber Co. was consulted to design and construct the new bar and top for this fine establishment using wormy American Chestnut lumber for the finished surfaces. The majority of the reclaimed materials for the bar top were salvaged a few short miles away in Lansing, WV and were likely milled for the first time in the mid 1920's. Having been extinct for decades, American Chestnut lumber can only be sourced from salvaged materials. It is highly sought after for it's scarcity, unique warm color tone and of course the namesake worm holes that add to the character of the reclaimed wood.

As it should be, the three sided bar is the focal point of the restaurant connecting four large posts that are part of the main timber frame structure. For the comfort of the seated guests, the bar top was designed to offer a generous amount of leg room underneath with a full 16 inches of overhang. Finishing out the design, the bar base was veneered with stacked stone by a local mason.

my father Frank Petretich works with Gabe to frame out the bar top

We were fortunate to have my father Frank Petretich, down from Ohio to help frame out the bar for the first few days. Having been a contractor for over 30 years, we appreciated his experience and efficiency in creating a sturdy framework for the finished bar.

herring bone design where the tongue and groove strips meet at the bar corners

It took us two full days to lay out the tongue and groove around the bar's continuous three sided surface. We used a herring bone pattern at the corners for a nice transition as the direction of the tongue and groove layout changed direction. The sides of the bar top were trimmed out with beautifully distressed, five inch wide Chestnut stock, provided by Eric Moerschel from Saltbox Millworks.

starting the epoxy seal coat over top of the chestnut bar

To create a surface that will withstand years of use and abuse, we opted to finish the top with clear two part epoxy. This style of finish is applied first by painting on a seal coat, then by flood coating the top with 1/8" thick layers of epoxy. With all of the worm holes and gaps between the strips, this was a particularly "thirsty" bar top requiring 12 gallons of epoxy to get the desired result, a finish with the illusion of a thin contiguous layer of glass over the entire surface.

an epoxy finish appears like a thin sheet of glass over the surface of the wood

We were also asked to design and build a combination three tiered liquor shelf and draft beer dispenser. Glass inserts were placed in the shelves to allow lighting from beneath to emanate through the bottles.

Restaurant guests can also enjoy our work on ten new reclaimed hemlock table tops.

a couple of the reclaimed hemlock solid wood table tops that we made for Chetty's Pub

All in all this was a great experience. There was a short window of time given to us to complete the project as the whole renovation took place in less than a month! It's rewarding to think about how many people will enjoy our work in the coming years as they relax and enjoy a beverage of their choice at the new Chetty's.

Small American Chestnut Coffee Table

Here is how this works... If you need a piece of furniture, contact us, and we'll build it for you. Simple right?

American Chestnut coffee table finished with low gloss tung oil

This is how it happened for our new friend Robyn. She wanted a small solid wood coffee table with a lower level shelf. Robyn researched the web and found a design she liked in Crate and Barrel's catalog. Having both good taste, and social awareness, she decided to have her piece of furniture made here in southern West Virginia from reclaimed Appalachian lumber.

She messaged us through the website and explained her sizing needs and design preferences with a link to the item that she liked. We spoke on the phone and worked out the details of payment and delivery, and quickly got to work.

chestnut pieces will be joined together with mortise and tenon to make the structure for the small coffee table

Robyn wanted her table made out of reclaimed chestnut. The table was to be 24" long by 18" wide, and 17" high. We chose some nicely distressed planks to be milled for the table top and shelf, and created each surface from it's own plank of lumber. When glued together, this made for a nice uniform finish.

Glued mortise and tenon joinery connected hand sanded square stock making for a simple, elegant and very sturdy design. In building furniture we are continually aware of our finish faces and like to show off the interesting grain patterns and distress in our reclaimed wood. We believe this makes each piece of furniture unique and special.

detail of mortise in small American chestnut coffee table

For finishing, the piece was hand rubbed with all natural high quality tung oil, which enhances the grain and reacts with the wood to provide excellent water resistance.

Robyn decided to drop in for a visit to the shop to pick up the table. We gave her a quick tour and sent her on her way with a great piece of furniture at a fair price. We hope it brings her enjoyment for many years! We'll be sure to let you know how her new kitchen table turns out as well...


Reclaimed Wood Tables Now Available!

Probably my favorite use for reclaimed wood is in making tables. The material lends to a very sturdy construction, and I think that sitting at a table among friends sharing a conversation or meal is likely the best way to enjoy Virgin Timber Lumber.

a detail of the legs and apron of an oak four person reclaimed wood table

About a year ago, I came up with a concept for a simple table design based on 2" rough cut framing lumber, a material that I happen to have in great supply. My good friend Donn Ketchum, a talented woodworker, helped me finalize the design last winter to include removable legs for easy shipping and storage.

reclaimed wood table top made from salvaged wormy chestnut lumber

After re-milling the boards for the table top, they are glued together to make one solid surface. We make it a point to only mill our lumber enough to properly join them together leaving the wood's original patina to be enjoyed in the finished product. The legs are attached to the table apron using 5/16 hanger bolts, and they can be quickly removed using a 1/2 inch wrench.

reclaimed wood table top is fastened to the base using clips. the removable legs are attached using hanger bolts

We can make tables of all sizes using oak, chestnut, pine, poplar or hemlock lumber. Drop into The Purple Moon in Charleston, WV to see one for yourself.

Recycled Lumber Shelving

We just finished installing some beautiful shelving made from reclaimed pine and cedar lumber. The top and sides are composed of reclaimed re-milled 2x4 and 2x6 pine framing lumber from southern West Virginia. Dado joints were added to accept the shelving.

shelving unit made from reclaimed pine and cedar lumber

The shelves themselves came from 1950's wall and door trim that was salvaged during the renovation of a commercial building. They are likely western red cedar, and judging by the extremely tight growth rings, they're definitely from virgin timber.

shelving made from reclaimed western red cedar virgin lumber sides are made from reclaimed pine. shelving constructed with dado joints for stability and strength

If you would like something like this in your home or office, feel free to contact us. We can fabricate high quality shelving units in all shapes, sizes and lumber species for your custom project.

Hemlock Mortise and Tenon Table

I glued up a beautiful pine table base last night for my good friends Oscar and Barbara, owners of DiOGi’s Mexican Grill in Fayetteville, WV.

Mortise and tenon joinery is extremely sturdy and durable, and I think that this table will provide years and years of enjoyment. After milling out the pieces with the mortises (pockets) and tenons (tongues), constructing the table is as simple as gluing the pieces together. If measured and milled properly, the base will come out solid and square every time.

I like to leave as much as possible the old saw marks and wear and tear on my finished faces to make for an interesting and unique piece of furniture. The old circular saw marks and stained nail holes are authentic, and 80+ years of oxidation will assure a warm rich color tone when the table is finished with oil or polyurethane.

Here is the completed table ready for finishing. We will likely use three coats of polyurethane sanding between coats for a long lasting and beautiful finish. Antique old growth hemlock finishes beautifully gaining a warm rich red tone that can not be mimicked by newly cut and milled lumber.