Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sinker Cypress: Nature's Underwater Treasure

I have been asked by many people: "what is sinker cypress." Well, let me take a moment and explain all about sinker cypress and the process of turning it into beautiful wood for the home and business.
Sinker cypress, sometimes called deadhead cypress, is exactly what the word says - it is cypress logs that have sunk in rivers and bayous. During the mid to late 1800s, much of northern Florida was covered with cypress forests growing in swamps and bayous. Due to the growth of the country, there was a great demand for cypress for building. Enter the lumber barons. Much of this old growth cypress was harvested and shipped to saw mills for processing into lumber. The best way to transport the logs to the mill was by water - creeks and rivers. The logs were rafted together for efficient floating. Along the way to the mill, some logs became waterlogged and sank to the bottom. Where they have remained until the past 30 years, when the law changed and limited permits were issued to reclaim the logs.

Transporting the cypress logs to the mill - 1800s. Things certainly have changed.

The reclaiming of the sunken logs from the rivers created a niche business for those enterprising individuals daring to take the risks to recover the logs. In addition to having zero visibility, these men could encounter many types of "critters" while submerged. Not like diving in the Caribbean. 

Once the logs were discovered and brought to the surface, they were floated to local saw mills specializing in converting sinker cypress to useable lumber. The logs were sold to the mills and the process of conversion began. Bruner Lumber Company in northern Florida is a saw mill specializing in old growth cypress and pine.

Cypress logs at the river haul out. Doubles as an alligator walkway up to solid ground.

Cypress logs recently reclaimed from the river. Notice the end cut. It was done by hand with axes, prior to power saws. These lumbermen were tough men. And they had no Deep Woods Off for the swamps.

Cypress logs stacked for drying, prior to milling. No this isn't one of the lumbermen, it's my friend Mark "Gator" Nesbit. He is tough however.

Bruner Lumber Company. This excellent northern Florida saw mill specializes in creating beautiful, old growth cypress and pine lumber products for homes throughout the country. 

Once the logs have been through a partial drying process, they are milled into beautiful cypress flooring, paneling, beams, and large table tops. 

Cypress flooring and beams ready for the market.

Saw mill yard with logs ready for milling. Gets a little muddy after a good rain. No place for Gucci loafers.

Then where do I come in? Well, I buy rough unusable cypress pieces from my friends at Bruner. I try and visualize how a particular wood chunk can be transformed into a beautiful usable item for the home or business. Once at my workshop, the sizing, sawing, sanding and finishing takes place. This is the fun part of the process. Creating something that will enhance someones home.

Rough pieces of sinker cypress from the mill. I think I need to get a bigger car or a trailer.

Then after a few (a lot) of hours, this is the result. Magic, when you have beautiful wood to start with. These pieces are all sinker cypress from large reclaimed logs. Most of the logs are over 300 years old.

Have a great day and a Happy and Healthy 2014

Natural Creations
John "Gabby" Gabrielson
Miramar Beach, Florida