HUDSON — There’s something special about wood, something only revealed by cutting into a log.
Each one is different — the grain, knots, spalting and insect bore holes are unique, similar to a human fingerprint. Like Forrest Gump’s famous box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.
It’s in the discovery of what’s inside an oak, cedar, pine or cypress as the blade of Bill Kromar’s band saw skims off the first slab that fuels the Hudson sawer’s passion for wood.
Sometimes he’s startled by the beauty of the grain pattern, colors and natural voids he discovers. Other times it’s like opening a Christmas present only to find socks.
Kromar has operated for six years, a business that sprang from the local tree service he’s been running for 37 years.
“I was always looking for how to dispose of the wood,” said Kromar. “I dumped it, gave it away, but eventually I thought maybe I didn’t need to get rid of it.”
Kromar said he doesn’t make much from the milling operation, but at least the trees his crew cuts are not going to waste. That, he says, is “the most important thing.”
Kromar cuts everything from standard boards and posts for customers to live-edge slabs and furniture-grade pieces. He also supplies many artisans and crafters, from wood carvers to chainsaw artists. He also builds and sells furniture, including elaborate epoxy river tables, a technique that has exploded in popularity in recent years. A special project he’s working on now involves a tabletop of very rare, old-growth American chestnut slabs provided by a client that’s had the wood in his family for years.
“There’s so much you can do with wood and it amazes me how many great artists there are now working with wood,” said Kromar, adding one chainsaw artist he supplies has created works around the world, including at Buckingham Palace in England.
The business may not be a cash cow, but when he sees what some of the wood he sells is transformed into, he’s glad he’s able to provide the raw material.
The cut trees “were a byproduct that got dumped,” said Kromar. “It got to where it seemed like such a waste to haul them away, so I figured, why not do something with them? And the rest is history.”
In addition to quality wood, Kromar provides people with woods like oak, hickory, cherry and other fruitwoods for meat smoking. Sawdust from his mill resides in many area horse stalls.
The “good stuff” is destined for other things, like the display items in the showroom at his mill. There are aromatic cedar chests, display wall units and gun cabinets. Extra-special creations are epoxy river tables, which are made by filling the voids between live-edge slabs with colored epoxy resin, then clear-coated and polished to a mirror-smooth finish. In today’s market, these tables can fetch hundreds and thousands of dollars. His show piece now is an epoxy table with elaborate carvings of snook and tarpon fish on the legs at either end.
“That’s an example of a more elaborate table,” said Kromar. “With a table like that, you have something unique that no one else has.”
The other thing Kromar finds appealing about wood creations is how solid wood endures.
“These are things that get passed on to children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” said Kromar. “It isn’t like something made of particle board you buy at the home supply stores.”
Among Kromar’s creations are things like custom hardwood canopy beds. He knows as he cuts, shapes and refines such pieces, his work will pay off in knowing it will remain in family bedrooms for generations. It also will stand as part of his legacy long after he’s gone.
“These things are valued by people and kept in the family,” he said, adding they’ll never be left on the roadside with a “Free” sign attached. “That’s the good thing about things made well and made of solid wood.”