San Rafael man turns the old into new things

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San Rafael man turns the old into new things
By: Mika Edwards, Marin Independent Journal, September 7, 2001

 Black’s Farmwood

Address: 7 mount Lasssen Drive, Suite C-125, in San Rafael.

Phone: 499-8300 or

Chief Executive: Michael Black

Business: Black’s Farmwood uses reclaimed lumber from old buildings for new construction. Black has a showroom in Lucas Valley and uses two mills, one in Kentucky and another in New York.

Customers: Architects, designers, builders and homeowners.

Revenue: Wood can range from $5.50 a square foot to $12.50 a square foot. Beams run from about $16 to $35 a foot.

What’s new: Black is currently working at Sterling Winery in St. Helena on a 6,000-square foot flooring project. Black also is working on antique oak flooring for a residence in Tiburon.

What people are saying: Charles melin of Charles melin General Construction of Larkspur is working with Black’s Farmwood for an early century house in Tiburon.

“It was built in the ’30s and she wanted to keep it all in the same vein and that is why we are using recycled wood,” melin said. “Black has provided all the flooring, decking, beams and materials for the cabinets.”

melin has noticed an increase in the use of recycled wood.

“I think it is a great idea and it is becoming more and more popular because our resources are dwindling,” melin said.

Vital Statistics: Black’s Farmwood has been around since January 1999. Black’s interest in reclaimed lumber started three years ago.

“In 1998 I was starting to get ready to get a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and I was working part time in construction at Black Point,” Black said. “I saw the wood waste and I started thinking about recycling and there really wasn’t anything to speak of in Marin and even in California.”

Around that time, a tobacco barn in Ohio that belonged to Black’s grandmother collapsed and she wanted to burn the wood. Black thought about using the wood from the barn for the Black Point Project. The homeowner “was enthusiastic about it and wanted to know where he could get more wood like that,” Black said. “I never intended to make a career out (of) it, but word got around and I was receiving a lot of inquiries.”