Part of Fetherston’s Treasure Box of Classic Woodys is a set of genuine wood samples. I created these to give the reader a better grasp on what original woody wagon builders must have gone through to determine the best material for structuring, paneling, and trimming these wagons. With this set, you can feel the differing weights and densities of the timbers, and marvel at the wonderful color variations that allowed the builders to add highlights to the varnished bodies. It’s amazing how one type of timber can have so many variations.
Some builders selected a signature wood trim, like U.S. Body and Forging from Tell City, IN, which used redgum as their belt line molding on virtually all the bodies they built. This reddish, near mahogany coloring gave the body a contrasting trim to enhance the maple frame work and the birch or cottonwood paneling. Redgum is sourced out of liquidamber, a tree with brilliant fall colors, which is so often grown in parks and private gardens as an ornamental. Interestingly, liquidamber is one of the few commercial lumbers that provides two distinct types of wood. Redgum can only be harvested from older liquidambers that are five or six feet in diameter at the base. It is the warm-colored heartwood of the tree and needs many years to mature, through a combination of minerals and aging. One piece of a redgum may vary in color and grain from light pink with no variations to one that has fifteen shades of pinks and greys, like ribboned marble. The other wood harvested from liquidamber is the sapwood, which is the majority of the lumber from this tree. It is a fine white hardwood much like basswood or maple in appearance when dried.
Finding sources of these woods has been an interesting experience. As there are ten different woods in each set, the challenge was to trace down lumber from all over the country to supply each Treasure Box.