Knoxville man turns shipwrecks into furniture

Knoxville man turns shipwrecks into furniture

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Woodstream Hardwoods has been around since the 1970s. Owner Jim McNutt says these days they do mostly custom work, hardwood floors and table tops. Woodstream Hardwoods has been around since the 1970s. Owner Jim McNutt says these days they do mostly custom work, hardwood floors and table tops.
They work with local domestic woods, Ash, Oak, Cherry Maple or Walnut, but every once in a while, someone may want something a bit more exotic. They work with local domestic woods, Ash, Oak, Cherry Maple or Walnut, but every once in a while, someone may want something a bit more exotic.
It's your exotic woods that are making it interesting and dynamic. You get our imported woods from Africa, Brazil and Indonesia that are just incredibly beautiful and fun to work with," said owner Jim McNutt. It's your exotic woods that are making it interesting and dynamic. You get our imported woods from Africa, Brazil and Indonesia that are just incredibly beautiful and fun to work with," said owner Jim McNutt.
McNutt says he can document his antique pieces with photos and videos. Images he's taken up close and personal. (source: Jim McNutt) McNutt says he can document his antique pieces with photos and videos. Images he's taken up close and personal. (source: Jim McNutt)

By GENE PATTERSON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - There was a time in America where good wood workers could make a living building furniture in factories in North Carolina. Those factories provided secondary markets for people in Knoxville.

Today, many of those factories are gone, headed mostly to china, where labor is cheap, but what about the jobs in Knoxville?  How have those workers survived?

In the case of Woodstream Hardwoods, they've adapted to more individualized work that can even involve century-old shipwrecks.

Woodstream Hardwoods has been around since the 1970s. Owner Jim McNutt says these days they do mostly custom work, hardwood floors and table tops.

They work with local domestic woods, Ash, Oak, Cherry Maple or Walnut, but every once in a while, someone may want something a bit more exotic.

"You get more flavor, like you get your Chunky Cheese or Turtle Ice Cream. It's your exotic woods that are making it interesting and dynamic. You get our imported woods from Africa, Brazil and Indonesia that are just incredibly beautiful and fun to work with," said McNutt.

Talking with Jim McNutt is like having a guide as you travel through a world forest. If you point at a tree, he'll tell you what it is and whether its wood is worth cutting.

His eyes really light up when you ask him about shipwreck woods - wood salvaged from old shrimp schooners and Spanish galleons.

McNutt says he can document his antique pieces with photos and videos he's taken up close and personal.

"We actually do the work ourselves. It's fun to work underwater, especially clear water. There are tropical fish everywhere. It gives us an excuse to get out of town and go diving for a while," he said.

McNutt says it's become more complicated to recover shipwreck wood because of the Abandoned Shipwreck Act and because of the nature of the sea.

"It's hard to get. There's not many wooden vessels out there. The old shrimpers were made of Cypress in the deep south and all the east coast wrecks in Atlantic. In salt water, you get toreeto worms that damage the wood," he explained.

When he's not diving, McNutt and his bunch of eccentric woodnuts, as he calls them, work in Knoxville, cutting, sanding, gluing and turning simple woods into floors and table tops that you be proud to call yours.

"You won't get rich wood working, but it's enjoyable, and for a simple guy like me and my friends, we see the labor of our love and you've got to love what you're doing more than anything," he said.

If you'd like to know more about Woodstream Hardwoods, you can visit their website.

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