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Historic Woodworks

JOSH & GAYLE WELTMAN, Owner/Operator

Historic Woodworks is a full-service reclaimed lumber supplier located in Tetonia, Idaho. Established in 1999, it is the first and largest reclaimed-specific shop in the Tetons. They stock an extensive inventory of reclaimed lumber in a variety of colors and dimensions. They also offer custom siding, flooring, paneling, and furniture for all sizes of residential and commercial applications.

What services do you offer?
Historic Woodworks is a full-service reclaimed lumber provider. We sell reclaimed lumber and manufacture a variety of products including siding, flooring, paneling, and furniture. We work with clients to find the ideal reclaimed lumber products for any application, whether it is a commercial or residential project, and of any scale.

What geographic areas do you serve?
We serve Teton Valley, Jackson Hole, Swan Valley, and beyond. We provide delivery throughout the Teton region and ship nationally.

How did your business get its start?
Historic Woodworks was officially formed in 1999. Since childhood, I loved old barns and woodworking. While pursuing a BA in American Studies, I extensively studied local homestead and ranching history. I researched local vernacular structures and conducted numerous oral histories as a freelance writer. I soon realized that preserving historic structures, in many cases, was not feasible. I began dismantling barns and houses destined for demolition, and salvaging the antique lumber. I had been woodworking professionally for a number of years already, so working with the recycled lumber was a natural progression.

When I started out, I had minimal equipment, work-space, or knowledge of the budding reclaimed lumber industry. It is a very labor-intensive, usually dirty, often dangerous job fueled by my love of
wood and history.

What projects are you most proud of?
It is really fun to exper-ience our work as a customer at many of the commercial projects we’ve done. I love enjoying après ski at Grand Targhee, Teton Village, and Teton Springs resorts, and dining and seeing shows at Spur, The Knotty Pine, Hotel Jackson, Cowboy Coffee, The Garage on Beck (Salt Lake), The West Side Yard, Branding Iron, and Cowboy Coffee, to name a few.

Do you have favorite materials you are known for?
As an environmentally conscious woodworker, using exclusively reclaimed lumber is a no-brainer. It is a lot more work than using new wood. The nails have to be removed, the wood is often dirty, and the dimensions are inconsistent. The character, patina, and history of the wood, as well as the fact that it is well-seasoned and stable, makes it more than worth the effort to achieve the final product. Just because the lumber is reclaimed does not necessarily mean that it has to be rustic. One of the main factors we consider with each client is how rustic or clean of a product they want. The looks and textures achieved can range from rustic to contemporary. Some clients want it as old-looking and rustic as possible while some applications are mountain modern/contemporary. The possibilities are truly endless. We love when clients come in with an idea that they think is crazy or impossible and making it happen.

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““I love preserving the history that comes with each piece of wood and passing it on with its new life. Hence our motto: Preserving History Through Recycling. Every day we are rewarded by our hard work. We see neglected buildings transformed into processed lumber and then into a finished product. I love witnessing the craftsman-ship that is an art form lost to history, such as the Old World joinery in an ancient barn, or the liquid tight seal in the coopered joints of a reclaimed pickle vat.””
–Josh Weltman

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love preserving the history that comes with each piece of wood and passing it on with its new life. Hence our motto: Preserving History Through Recycling. Every day we are rewarded by our hard work. We see neglected buildings transformed into processed lumber and then into a finished product. I love witnessing the craftsmanship that is an art form lost to history, such as the Old World joinery in an ancient barn, or the liquid tight seal in the coopered joints of a reclaimed pickle vat. It’s hard to beat the look on our clients’ faces when we exceed their expectations.

What are the biggest challenges in your field?
The dirty, danger-ous, labor-intensive nature of working with reclaimed lumber is the hardest part of this job. It takes a toll on the body, especially as I get older. It’s hard to restrict what I am able to do, but it is wonderful to have capable employees so that we can continue growing.

How did you get your start here?
I started out doing trail work for the U.S. Forest Service and doing independent historic research. From there, I worked in just about every commercial wood shop in Teton Valley beginning in 1994 and doing side work freelance writing for local publications. After that, I started dismantling barns with nothing more than a few pry bars and a chainsaw.

Is there a local building you admire?
My shop is one of the oldest buildings in Tetonia, which dates back to the early 1920s. Some of its extensive history includes a Studebaker dealership, wild game processing, hardware store, grocery store, hand-set bowling alley, and Prohibition Era speakeasy. It is still a work in progress and it has taken a lot of investment in time and money to get it to where it is now. It was actually two buildings joined together totaling 6,500 square feet. In 2016/17 we completely remodeled the east end. We removed and reclaimed the lumber from the old ‘bowstring’ truss roof system. We saved the walls and did a complete remodel. One of the original owners who is now in her 90s came and toured the facility after we were done and was overwhelmed with tears of joy that we had preserved the building when many would have torn it down.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
Tetonia is the greatest city on Earth. It’s quiet and everyone is friendly and looks out for each other. It is truly a wonderful community. My shop is two blocks from my house and we have the best Teton views in the valley. I can be on the river within 10 minutes of leaving work. In the winter I can ski the fresh powder before going to work.

What’s the last book you read that made an impact?
Erik Larson writes historical non-fiction books. His latest book, The Splendid and the Vile, chronicles how Churchill inspired the people of England to unite and persevere through years of being bombed by the Nazis. It illustrates the strength of a nation united during times of hardship. It’s something that we could use in times like these.