processes the logs from the time they are brought in green by private timber operators. Myrtlewood logs, when green are 70% moisture so the log will not float. The wood is 20% harder than oak, and harder than black walnut or hardrock maple. No other wood is so strongly accented by figured grain and color.
Myrtlewood has a color spectrum that has been variously described as ranging from "golden hues to velvet black with warm brown, yellows, greens and reds", from
"ebony to a rich maple color", from "soft gray to mauve". In a single word, it is beautiful!
A skilled sawyer is needed to operate the carriage to saw each log in recognition of the individuality of each finished piece. The head rig saws 1 ¼, 2 ¼, 3 ¼, and 4 ¼ inch boards. From there the board goes to the planer where one side is planed. This makes it easier to see the defects in the planks. The straight-line ripsaw is now used to cut the boards to standard
widths. The mill is always cutting for the largest piece they can possibly get.
Next, the chop-saw cuts for the standard square blocks, which are always done 1-inch oversize to allow for shrinkage during the drying process. A center hole is drilled which will be used throughout the process. The square blocks are now cut into rounds.
The next step is the rough-out lathe. Each item is roughed to the shape of the finished piece leaving 1-inch thick walls. This speeds
up the drying process and helps to prevent checking and warpage. Even with this preventative measure, we will still lose about 10% in the dry kilns.
These roughed out items are now loaded into our four large dry kilns. Temperature and humidity are then carefully controlled for 5-9 weeks. Table tops and lumber must be air-dried one year per inch of thickness. Then they are placed in the kiln for final drying. All items are brought slowly down to at least 7% moisture content.
After the wood is dry it is bottom-sanded so it will fit flush with the faceplate on the lathe. The turners make their owns steel chisels. They do the outside of an item first, then the inside. The turner changes tools often; different tools are for different curves, etc. Most turners use their fingers for calipers. They feel just the right thickness.
After being turned, the item goes to the sander where we use 80-220 grit sandpaper. This process is used on the
outside and then the inside of the item. On items that are to be sprayed, three to four coats of spray are applied to each item and then allowed to dry overnight. The items may be washed with soap and water, but will not withstand the high temperature of a dishwasher
To obtain an oil finish, the item is hand-rubbed with oil. It is allowed to dry overnight and then waxed to a satin sheen. We suggest that the oil finish be occasionally re-rubbed with mineral oil to prevent the
absorption of food odors, and to keep the wood from drying out. Each buyer will receive a "story of myrtlewood" which tells how to care for his/her item.
*Note: Each item is picked up and put down at least 28 times from the time it begins in the sawmill until it is a finished product on our store's shelves.
OLDEST & LARGEST MYRTLEWOOD MANUFACTURER
"The History of the Factory "
The myrtlewood industry originated in the late 1800's along the Southern Oregon Coast. As one takes a closer look at myrtlewood craftsmanship, the oldest factory emerges as a story of history and success. The Myrtlewood Factory, located five miles north of North Bend, Oregon, at the entrance to the Dunes National Recreation Area, is the oldest in the world.
In 1911, the mother company of Bayview Manufacturing turned their first product under the name of Duncan's Myrtlewood Crofters. This was the first commercial effort of retailing myrtlewood products.
Oregon was the entire market for myrtlewood until the famous author Jack London popularized it by having an entire suite of furniture built for his Valley of the Moon Ranch. It was recognized as something very special long before Jack London saw it. From its
leaves, Hudson Bay trappers brewed a chill-remedy drink which David Douglas, namesake of the Douglas Fir, pronounced "…by no means an unpalatable drink". The Indians used it for tea and to season fish.
In 1869, the golden spike symbolically marking completion of the nation's first transcontinental railroad was driven into a tie of highly polished myrtlewood. Later, the wood brought some rare beauty for
the Great Depression years. It soon became a tourist attraction, and many small shops opened up, presenting the product to travelers along the Oregon Coast. Today you will find 15-18 retail stores, some with small factories in the back, turning bowls and trays for their own resale.
In 1964, John Reiher purchased Duncan's Myrtlewood and renamed it Bayview Manufacturing. He operated a factory and sales room located at 1601 Sherman Avenue in North Bend, Oregon, for a
period of six years.
Roger Clark, the third owner and founder of the current factory changed the name to The Real Oregon Gift. He was born in South Dakota, but has lived most of his life in Oregon. During high school, he supported himself making hope chests and other woodworking projects. An interest in police work landed him in the uniform of a North Bend police officer at the age of 19. Two years later, with the
encouragement of his chief, a former FBI agent, Roger entered the Oregon State Police Academy, and for the next 18 years served as a State Trooper.
When Clark took over Bayview, in 1970, he started pressing for ways to raise volume and efficiency. This was a difficult, but ultimately successful venture. In 1974, Clark decided to gamble on brand new facilities, an expansion program never before seen in the myrtlewood industry. He wanted to build a 40,000 square foot
manufacturing facility, complete with its own sawmill and factory outlet store, on a 17-acre site five miles north of North Bend.
Prior to building the new plant, Clark had relied on small private loggers to harvest and rough-cut his lumber. It required two to three days to mill 1000 board feet. The private mills were wasteful and insensitive to the special sawing requirements needed to utilize myrtlewood's dramatic color and grain patterns. He says building his
own sawmill was the best thing he ever did. "Quality went up 300%, and waste went to near nothing. "The new sawmill would eventually pave the way to efficient volume production methods. Innovations in the expanded dry kiln operation, a critical phase when working myrtlewood because it will warp and check, took months to accomplish. Now, huge drying rooms precisely control humidity, gradually reducing it over many weeks until the wood is dry and stable.
In 1982, Clark began to use the Real Oregon Gift logo. It received such notice, that on October 1, 1988, the Bayview name was officially retired. All Myrtlewood Chalet and Bayview names were dropped, and the one solid corporation image would survive as the Real Oregon Gift Factory.
The Real Oregon Gift Factory's pioneering efforts at large volumes with high quality and reasonable pricing, were successful ingredients
in any business. But unlike many factory operations, myrtlewood manufacturing must revolve around the wood's beauty, a quality that could be seriously compromised if subjected to what are often harsh, high volume techniques. It's not surprising that the vast majority of myrtlewood craftsmen have chosen to remain unencumbered by high volume headaches.
A small myrtlewood factory has turned into the largest myrtlewood
manufacturer in the world. Bayview went from shopping basket quantities to forklift quantities. Clark now has the satisfaction of watching a promising national sales effort take root both through wholesale distribution, retail mail-order, and internet sales. He has created bowls for the Emperor of Japan, golf club heads for President Gerald Ford, and unique Abraham Lincoln bookends for Senator Mark Hatfield.
Give a gift of Myrtle and she will treat you well.