Loggers' Den plans to go back to the past


WILTON — The new owners of a plot on Route 2 hope to go back in time with a sawmill and retail store.

Plans for the Loggers’ Den, next to Dollar General, include three structures, an 18- by 48-foot sawmill producing live-edge lumber; a 24- by 34-foot store to display and sell wood crafts including “wacky wood” furniture and local Maine products such as honey and maple syrup and a heated parlor and porch for people to sit and be neighborly, said Keith Howard of Carthage.

The third structure, 16 by 24 feet with a roof, would be for self-service sale of firewood, he said.

“It is a family project,” Howard said, involving his daughters Juli Howard of Farmington, Megan DeSouza of Florida and son William Howard of Farmington. 

Juli works with her father helping to build furniture, Megan will do the bookkeeping and William, who owns BHD Trucking Excavation Firewood, will do the ground work, Keith Howard said.

The Wilton Planning Board recently approved the use and building permits for the project, on less than an acre between Route 2 and Munson Road.

A special saw, one that will saw a 48-inch log, is being built for the sawmill and is expected to arrive soon from Thomas Bandsaw Mills of Thorndike, Howard said. It will allow the trunk, a live edge, to be left on the lumber.  

They hope to start operating in December and to work throughout the winter.

The store will take longer, with Howard expecting to cut it piece by piece in his home workshop, number each piece and put it together on the property. It will be an old-fashioned post-and-beam building with wooden pegs, he said. 

They hope to open the store by June 1.

The family plans to use an 1864 cider press to make cider in the store. Local honey and maple syrup, along with a variety of mustards created by a mustard factory in Eastport and items canned by a seafood producer in Whiting, will be available.  

There also will be seasonal items such as seedlings in the spring and Christmas trees in December, he said. Everything will be Maine-made.

A logger for many years, Howard has built a small log home in the woods where he has lived off the grid for several years.  

“I love it back in the woods,” he said. “I can catch fish from my front porch.” 

The cabin sits within feet of a stream. 

Juli Howard shares her father’s love of the woods and outdoors, she said.

She and her father, using a gas generator, create some unusual pieces of furniture and crafts. An order of 30 picnic tables is lined up for his winter work.

A storage of their created items includes tables that use the crotch of a tree for the legs, benches, gun cabinets, stands, frames and bird houses. Unusual growths in the wood create a rustic or “wacky” design, as Keith Howard called it.

The family has been thinking about the project for the past several years and have plenty of ideas. It is a legacy Howard wants to leave his children, he said.

“We are going back in time,” he said. “Everything is going to be old-fashioned, including a cup of coffee or cider, a rocking chair on the porch and time to visit.” 

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Juli Howard and her father, Keith Howard of Carthage, create craft furniture or “wacky furniture,” as he calls it, by using tree crotches and the natural oddities of the wood. These will be displayed and sold at the Loggers’ Den, a store and sawmill planned for Route 2 in Wilton. (Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)

Plans for the Loggers’ Den on a small plot on Route 2 in Wilton, include a sawmill, a store and self-service firewood sales. (Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)

The natural growth of a tree becomes the base for a table in craft furniture created by Keith Howard and his daughter, Juli Howard. A live edge is left on the table. This and similar items are planned for display and sale at a proposed Loggers’ Den store in Wilton. (Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)

A frame follows the lines of the natural wood, said Keith Howard of Carthage. A birdhouse and other pieces of craft furniture await display and sales at the future Loggers’ Den store in Wilton. (Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)