Foster Planing Mill was founded in 1922 by Henry Butzer, and at the time was called “Butzer Planing Mill”. Throughout its 89 years of operation, the company has operated under only 4 owners and is currently run by Bob Stanley, who took over from his father around 25 years ago. Foster’s famous blue sawdust collector towers high in sight, as you drive along Slauson (in-between Budlong and Normandie), and looking pretty much the same as it did when it was first built, this facility has ultimately become a historical landmark for many people in this raw and edgy part of the south Los Angeles area. South Central, as it was once called, had been long known for having a high crime rate, and in fact, seemed to reach its all time peak in the 80’s – let’s just say that during this period there was a suspected drug house across the street, which seemed to do more business than Foster while it lasted. Since then, the neighborhood has been taking a positive turn, and we can now safely encourage everyone to stop in for an anything-but-ordinary visit, as you never know what to expect when you arrive. For example, the neighborhood rooster may pop over for a visit to say hello, while the local ice cream truck whizzes by playing off-the-wall songs in “ice cream truck tunes”. This area is also known for having a great deal of graffiti, so it will also be an opportunity to take in some of the unique, local street art, which is a trademark for this neck of the woods. Our facility has been called “funky”, “wild”, “a step back in time”, etc.. but we feel each should have their own experience when they stop by. Regardless of what you may witness in the neighborhood at any given moment’s notice, what you can expect to experience at our facility includes: free, safe parking, a tour of the storage room, the grinding room, the stretcher bar room, the rip saw area, the lumber yard, shipping area, the office shack, and while you’re here you may also shop the “seconds” area, which you may only shop in person (and you won’t be sorry due to the wide selection and rock bottom prices). We also have and use what may be considered “antique machinery”, which still produces some of the highest quality moulding on the market today, along with old-fashioned wheel carts, and of course, greetings from our friendly shop guys, while you watch them hard at work – heck, we may even let you press the famous Foster Mill buzzer if you ask nicely! Additionally, it will be a great opportunity to meet the people you’ve been speaking with on the phone for all this time, and to see where your moulding and stretcher bars come from (who knows, you may even learn a little something while you’re here). So how does all that sound? If you’re intrigued, then make a definite plan to come by at your soonest convenience. Please call ahead if you would like to request a tour – there is no charge for our tour and it is our pleasure to have you stop by and to show you around.
Monthly Archives: March 2011
While the trend for darker woods continues, along with celebrating the month of love, we thought we would spotlight a very prominent, exotic wood type called “purpleheart”. This worldwide favorite wood may come from about 20 species of Peltogyne (trees of the Leguminosae Family), and is found throughout Central and South America. The wood from each species is so similar in appearance to one another that the lumber industry accepts them all to be allocated and distributed as one. Tall and large trees grow abundantly, sometimes reaching a diameter of five feet with clear, knot free lengths – it’s a great tree that yields a lot of high-quality lumber! Purpleheart has a creamy, white/gray sapwood, and when freshly cut, the heartwood is a dullish gray, purplish, brown (darkening into a deeper purple or brown with sun exposure & age). There is a high degree of variability in cutting characteristics, depending on the piece of wood or possibly the exact species of Peltogyne. Some wood seems to be relatively soft and easy to cut while other wood is incredibly hard. The grain is typically straight but some material may exhibit a particularly interesting curly grain pattern on quarter sawn surfaces. The wood is hard, heavy and can be pretty rough on tools. On the upside, Purpleheart glues easily, polishes well, and brings a nice “wow” factor to the finished project. Foster Planing Mill offers two of their stocked profiles in this gorgeous wood – profile #530 can be found on p. 8 of our catalogue, along with profile #700 on p. 18. You may also request to have another profile of choice custom milled with this wood type (minimum of 200′ required).
Helpful hints for finishing purpleheart:
Before applying the finish, put your project in the sun for a few hours, as this will make the color more intense. Over time, with exposure to ultraviolet light, purpleheart will inevitably darken to a brownish color – this process can be slowed (although not completely stopped). To prolong the length of time that the wood remains a lustrous purple, it’s recommended to periodically apply a UV-resistant finish to the completed piece. Also, if your project calls for screws in the joinery, take precaution by pre-drilling the holes.