Old House Journal
Milling wood is a tradition in Bret Christensen’s family; they have owned and operated lumber mills in the Pacific Northwest for over a century. When a small, high-quality lumber mill in picturesque Freeland, a hamlet on the southern end of Whidbey Island, in Puget Sound, came up for sale, Bret didn’t hesitate: he bought Whidbey Millhouse in 2020.
Working in partnership with his son, Maverick Christensen, Bret is continuing the mill’s focus on all-natural, historically accurate work, along with a longstanding commitment to sustainable forestry. The mill recently moved to a 12,000-square-foot warehouse across the street from the original shop, substantially expanding operations and productivity.
Kiln-dried and heat-treated raw materials are used to produce flooring (along with treads and risers, etc.), shiplap boards, V-joint ceilings, and siding in Douglas fir, spruce, and pine. Waste is collected for recycling with an air-suction dust collector. The goods are shipped all around the country.
A recent project was running 20,000 linear feet of clear Douglas fir for a historic restoration in nearby Coupeville. The astounding 24-foot-long boards of ultra-fine, vertical-grain boards were run without a flaw. That length is very desirable and almost unheard-of. The most popular products are the Douglas fir flooring and shiplap; rustic shiplap is another favorite. The mill also produces Scandinavian-style, clear, wideplank flooring.
Bret Christensen’s advice to customers? For the best final result, be sure to let wood products acclimate, stored inside, before installation, to allow the new wood to match the home's ambient conditions. He says it can take up to several weeks, so “be patient.”