Blue Ox Millworks, Historic Park, and School of Traditional Arts

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Turnings That Really Turn Heads

Does your front porch lack a certain luster?  Is the beam in your dance floor sagging with the weight of inadequacy?  Or perhaps you just need something special for the new home that you are designing.  Whatever the problem, Blue Ox is here to help.  Blue Ox columns are hand turned using the age old method of story-sticking to insure that each column is a masterpiece in its own right, and all our columns are custom so you can get the absolute perfect column for your renovation, restoration or new construction project.  Check out our idea gallery for a few sample patterns or send us an email for more information..

(Near Right): Turnings from the lathe room wall.  Drawing by Dan Brett, from his book Tales From the Blue Ox. (Far Right): Blue Ox turned columns adorn the Hopland Inn in Hopland California.

A sketch of turnings from the lathe room wall and custom columns for the Hopland Inn
Schramsberg Vinyard columns and custom columns for the Simpson-Vance house in Eureka

A Column For Every Need

Many different kinds of columns come out of the lathe room here at Blue Ox.  From solid wood to staved pieces, from our most popular redwood to rich black walnut, from 6 inch spindles to 18 foot columns, from straight rounds to finely carved ornate turnings; we do it all.  Our craftsmen have decades of experience with columns that have been shipped out around the world, and will be more than happy to take time from their busy schedule to discuss the details of your project.  Historic parks and cathedrals around the nation have utilized our experience.  Let us put the Blue Ox team to work for your home or business.

Most of the custom wood columns produced at Blue Ox are turned.  This ancient process utilizes a very simple concept.  Instead of keeping the wood stationary and moving a saw or a chisel through the wood, turning keeps the tool stationary while the wood spins along a single axis.

(Far Left): Custom column turned by the Blue Ox Millworks for the Schramsberg Vineyard in Calistoga. (Near Left): Custom columns and spandrel for the Simpson-Vance house in Eureka.

An Uplifting Tale; The History of Turnings

This provides a symmetrical column and allows for a wide variety of decorative elements.  Turnings have been used throughout history as decorative pieces, furniture parts, and architectural supports, and early turnings have been found as far back as 1000 BCE in the architecture of Ancient Egypt.

In the Victorian era, turnings played a vital role in nearly all elements of architecture.  Finials, columns, balusters, and many other decorative and structural elements were almost exclusively turned on lathes.  Victorian turners are almost unrivaled in their creativity, and Victorian era turnings are filled with complex bead alignments, straight tapered fluting, spiral fluting, reversed flutes, hollow turnings, and other elements that give most modern craftsmen nightmares.

(Near Right): 12 foot column reproduced for a structure in Fort Bragg, California. (Far Right): Three of the six Blue Ox columns that guard the entrance to one Eureka home.

Columns for buildings in Fort Bragg and Eureka
Custom tapered structural columns and custom columns for the local Coast Guard

Upholding Craftsmanship

Today, most columns are mass produced in a few generic patterns.  Custom turners are still scattered across the countryside, but very few have the equipment for large jobs.  Here at Blue Ox, we have a full lathe room with a variety of lathes, and our 1890 Fitchburg lathe can turn columns up to twenty-four feet tall.  We will custom match your needs, even doing complex patterns or hand carved elements. Or if you just need to know a bit about architectural patterns, master craftsman Eric Hollenbeck will put his research library to work for you. We support craftsmanship wherever it happens, and are more than happy to supply information for those strident soldiers of the do-it-yourself war.

(Far Left): Custom columns built for Tanglefoot construction. The design incorporates over a hundred tapered columns, aligned to look like trees along a forest path. (Near Left:) Blue Ox created custom columns for the local Coast Guard station.

Have a specialty project but need the raw materials?  Blue Ox works with contractors and architects across the county, supplying columns that act as support for new structures.  Our mill and molder shop (with the world's largest collection of Victorian molder knives) make it possible for us to provide tapered columns of up to thirty feet. Especially popular in earthquake country we can custom plane and glue columns so that only vertical grain is utilized.  These columns have passed the most strident structural tests that the state of California can produce, and still stood tall. Call Eric Hollenbeck at (800) 248-2459 for more details or send him an email, here.

Blue Ox is more than just another manufacturer, we are a Victorian architectural job shop.  That means that we oversee every step in the creation of your architectural elements.  We have our own mill so that we can mill up all our lumber to dimension, just like they did in Victorian times. 

(Near Right:) New custom gazebo with Blue Ox columns (Far Right:) New Blue Ox columns built for a local home. The home was included in an article in Victorian Homes Magazine.

New custom gazebo with Blue Ox columns, and columns from Victorian Homes magazine.
Custom barley twist staved columns and custom gazebo columns

The Ox Can Help

We do the design work, we mill the lumber, we do the scroll work and turning, we hand carve, and we assemble the product so that all that needs to be done on site is to attach it and paint or stain it. And we're an environmentally friendly shop in the heart of redwood county, with access to a wide variety of fine woods in any grade.

Whether your needs are structural or decorative, the fine craftsmen at Blue Ox Millworks are ready to help.  Come to us for any restoration, renovation, replacement, or new construction.  Send us an email and ask about specifics for your project, or call the Blue Ox at (800) 248-4259.

(Far Left): Custom barley twist staved columns with hand carved detail work, manufactured out of poplar for a job in San Jose. (Near Left:) Custom columns built for a new gazebo.

 

While the information on this website is believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication, neither the authors, webmaster, nor Blue Ox Millworks can accept any legal responsibility for any errors or omissions that may have been made. Prices listed on website are subject to change. © 2010. Blue Ox Millworks. All Rights Reserved

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Blue Ox custom columns decorate the entry to the historic Ship's Inn in Eureka, California