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Lumber wonderland

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Ever been to a lumber store? You’re probably saying yeah, sure. Well, if you didn’t travel to Charm, Ohio, to do so then, no, you haven’t really.

Sally and I love Ohio’s Amish Country and drove up there this weekend. There’s lots to see and do, especially if you’re a woodworker. Even if you’re not, there’s antiquing, wineries, wonderful local cheese and lots of shopping. I spoke once before about Lehman’s, the coolest hardware store in the world, which is located there. Well, just a few miles away is Keim’s Lumber, the benchmark by which all other lumber stores should be measured.

Just walking in the door of their 125,000-sq.-ft. showroom knocks your socks off. The first thing you see is thousands of board feet of regionally harvested cherry millwork. (I asked and was told they needed three full semi loads of cherry.) Stairways, wainscoting, counters, desks, displays, handrails, anything that could be made of wood is beautiful Ohio cherry. And every square inch was designed and all the millwork done on the premises in their huge custom millwork shop.

The tool department is the most extensive I’ve ever seen, with nearly every manufacturer represented. For big stuff, in addition to names like Jet and Powermatic, they even carry Laguna, Shop Fox and General shop machines, something I’ve never seen in a retailer before. The other departments – garden, electrical, hardware, kitchen, plumbing etc. – were incredibly well-stocked.

And the wood section? I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Not only every species you can imagine, both domestic and exotic, but really good stuff at that. They even sell massive slabs, including some burl slabs the size of, and nearly the cost of, my car. Incredible.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the employees there – and I mean every last one of them – are the most polite and helpful I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. In all, I think we spent nearly two hours in there and never got bored. We even took the time to enjoy a snack and cold drink in “The Carpenter’s Café,” their full restaurant.

If you’re ever within a hundred miles of central Ohio, make a point to check it out. It’s a woodworker’s dream and worth the trip.



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