“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, See! This our father did for us.

                                                                                    -John Ruskin

 

The Renew Wood Story began with an environmental concern.  While working in sales at a hardwoods lumberyard in Colorado I became more and more uncomfortable with the realization that my love for woodworking was contributing to deforestation.  How could I possibly grow in my love for nature and woodworking at the same time? It felt hypocritical.

Jeffrey ElkinsThe solution to my dilemma presented itself through a fellow woodworker that I met in Colorado.  He told me about a man in Washington State who salvaged old timbers from decommissioned railroad trestles.  Those timbers were re-manufactured into furniture boards. That was my “ah-ha moment.”  My conviction of buying and selling wood that contributed to deforestation was about to end.  With that, a vision was born and I decided to move back to Bellingham to entrench myself in the world of reclaimed timbers.  Now I could make woodworking projects from old growth Douglas fir and promote an alternative resource at the same time.  My vocational calling had been realized.

The desire to be self employed was twofold.  I wanted to use my 5 years of professional training to go out on my own, but I also wanted to share my excitement of reclaimed wood with others.  So I did.  In August of 1998 I moved back to Bellingham and started Renew Wood in my garage.

Fast forward 17 years.  I’m still excited to tell people about reclaimed old growth Douglas fir.  It is such a special wood, and every board that I get to work with has a story of its own. For each piece of wood, I suppose it’s just another chapter in the life of an old majestic tree.  But now the customer gets to be part of that tree’s story which most likely began in a climax forest long before pioneers ever set foot on the Pacific coast.

Renew Wood is also dedicated to the customer’s experience.  My first customer, Steve Scott, showed me firsthand how to enjoy the process.  He employed me for several years and I filled every room of his lake house with custom furniture.  He invited me to dinners and holidays and introduced me as his friend. He showed me that transactions can be professional and personal at the same time.  Thank you Steve for the great start, I will always be grateful for our friendship and for the lessons you taught me.

The truth is that I didn’t write the Renew Wood Story on my own. It’s a story that is co-written by my wife, my close friends, and by my customers.  It’s an ongoing story and is at the beginning of a new chapter. Dreams like “The Lummi Project,” “The DIY Lab,” and “SRS Reproduction” are newly awakening and I am excited to share with you what they are.  This next chapter is just as exciting as the first one that started in 1998.

Finally, I want to give credit where credit is due.  I am thankful to God for my creative talent, for the people He has brought into my life, and for the opportunities that are new every day.  The word Renew is my favorite word. It means “to be made alive again.”  That’s the Gospel story, and it is my story too.


re·new     /rəˈn(y)o͞o/     verb.      To be made alive again.