Who We Are
SD Urban Timber is San Diego’s original local wood resource, breathing new life into fallen trees and other materials which would otherwise be discarded. Our business is driven through healthy collaborations between our material, our clients, and our vision. In our process we strive to steward our wood to elicit the most out of each piece, and transform it into utilitarian artwork fulfilling the collaborative visions we create with our customer. Our services include custom furniture for residential and commercial space, a full service woodshop, and reclaimed local-exotic wood slabs from the heart of San Diego.
Redefining resources. Embracing imperfection. Awakening vision.
Our mission at SD Urban Timber is to redefine our local wood resources which would otherwise be destined for a landfill. We embrace their potential, empowering our customers to realize creative visions through our mill, design, and build format.
Jess is a credentialed Holistic Health Practitioner with a passion for people, art, and nature. She excels in expanding relationships and exploring the potential of color, resin, and organic materials.
With a degree in fine art at UCLA as a foundation, Dan is an accomplished artisan, wood expert, and innovator in design/build utilizing reclaimed and repurposed materials.
Life As Pioneers In An Urban Environment
The Nitty Gritty
We’ve gotten all sorts of feedback about this business; our “logging in the middle of the city” business. One was the name. We were told it should be called “Urban Lumber”. But lumber evokes a vision of aisle after Home Depot aisle of yellow wood. Timber is the truth. Our trees are either cut down or they fall down. Sometimes they’re 8 feet in diameter and 100 feet tall. Their presence is remarkable in an urban environment, noted in the community. That’s why we’re “San Diego Urban Timber”.
Our operation formed out of the realization that urban trees generally have a tragic life cycle. Once people know this they feel a palpable loss of potential and a call for change erupts.
People usually have no idea what it takes to bring wood to market. It happens so far away, gets trucked in without any connection to the consumer. Lumber becomes another generic commodity to most. But maybe grandpa planted that tree, it was where your dad built you a tree house, or your kids climbed in it. Perhaps these are the last remaining in the canyon; the beetles took the whole rest of grove. Well, then it’s personal for folks and the fact that it may end up in a landfill is heartbreaking. It’s personal for us, it’s in our DNA or something. Maybe we were trees in another life, who knows, but in this life we are furniture makers and wood stewards. It’s a calling, and we answer.
Dan’s little Toyota truck just passed 200,000 miles, and on one particular log load it towed more than it weighs (which was nuts). It’s both humbling and awesome to drop in on a job site where we’re expected to pick up a tree. People look at us and our rig and don’t stop looking in wonder until we leave. Rolling in with this little white truck, custom fabricated log trailer from our shop, a big chainsaw, and a woman as his right hand man. Disbelief is an understatement. The thing is, people have lost contact with the working concept of leverage. I mean, we do need brawn, but with brain, this tree gathering business gets by just fine without big equipment; just a hoist, manual labor, and can-do attitudes.
Gym memberships aren’t necessary if urban timber is your workday. Hard work is an understatement. It’s amazing how much eucalyptus weighs. Sometimes we calculate how many tons are hand lifted into the planer, and gloat at the volume. Similar to a pedometer, but not.
For us, eucalyptus is that kid in elementary school that you think is cool, but everyone else makes fun of. People refer to eucalyptus as a trash tree. Not for us, no way. This stuff is amazing both visually and structurally. It was planted on our coast as an answer to the need for railroad ties. It grows quick and dense, seemingly a sure bet. What people didn’t understand and are still coming into awareness about, is that working with eucalyptus is only for those who can commit to a long term relationship. You can’t be scared away by twists and checks and long chill times. This tree will give and give after it’s been given enough days on this earth and then milled and dried properly. It looks like stone, some with the most complex patterned ribboning. There are almost 600 varieties, and it’s planted in an unsustainable environment. You do the math on that. What the railroads gave up has been a gift to us.
At San Diego Urban Timber, we feel incredibly blessed that our somewhat rebellious natures can be satisfied by the work we do for the planet, community, clients and our own creative selves. Because of our inventory of unusual local exotic wood (eucalyptus is only the start) and ability to produce high end products through our art backgrounds and design-build format, we’re hitting our stride. We don’t fear competition-ultimately we want these materials to be accessible to everyone. We’re not afraid to lend our ideas and innovations, and work with others to realize great potential. Life is a fast moving train, and new ideas come everyday. We just try to keep up and meet the unknown with an open mind.