Subscribe Now

Walk into righteous woods in Row- ley and you’ll immediately encounter two things: the heady scents of exotic, aromatic woods like Spanish cedar and African padauk and the outgoing, talkative Steve King, who will greet you with a fist bump and an enthusiastic “Hey! What’s happening?”

Righteous Woods is the hardwoods division of Yankee Pine Lumber Corporation, which was founded in 1981 and has been in its current Route 1 location on the Newburyport Turnpike in Rowley since 1984. “Other lumber yards don’t have exotic woods to any extent,” says Steve’s father, Bob King, who founded Yankee Pine and is its president. “We have really exotic stuff from all over the world.”

Indeed, at any given time inside Righteous Woods, you could find 50 or so different varieties of hardwoods, many of them rare and exotic, from all corners of the globe. The large boards reach toward the high ceiling in long, tall rows, in a wide array of colors and shades, looking like bands of a wooden rainbow. Visitors might find woods like pink ivory from South Africa, bright yellow Brazilian satinwood, plum-hued purpleheart from Central America, red South American bloodwood, or striped zebrawood from West Africa.

Steve, who runs the company’s hard-woods division, says people who visit Righteous Woods often ask whether the woods are painted, perhaps thinking that their beautiful colors and patterns must not come from nature.

“They always want to know, why did we paint the wood this color?” he says. “We just tell them it’s natural.”

The variety of hardwoods the company carries are popular with everyone from hobbyists and fine craftspeople to contractors and jewelry makers to artists and furniture makers. But they all seem to be “wood people” who appreciate the plethora of unique and different patterns, colors, knotholes, and textures that the boards boast, Steve says.

And because every piece of wood has different properties, people use them for different applications. Although the most popular woods are Yankee Pine’s mainstays, such as walnut, cherry, maple, and birch, which people use for things like floor- ing and kitchen cabinets, Righteous Woods can provide boards for nearly any purpose.

“Everybody likes something different,” notes Steve. “It really depends on what the customer is trying to do. Are they trying to do rustic? Are they trying to do elegant? Are they trying to do country?” Some of the boards “are big enough to be a tabletop for a dining room table,” says Bob. Other colored woods are popular with artists, who might craft polychromatic bowls or pieces of jewelry. People also use the more exotic woods to make everything from pipes to knife handles to gunstocks to furniture to boats.

“Most people come in to try and find the color and size for whatever they’retrying to do,” Bob says. For instance, he points to Harvard University, which houses conference tables crafted out of his company’s African rosewood, also known as Bubinga.

But it’s not only boards that Righteous Woods carries; it also stocks burls, which are large knots that grow outwardly from trees, creating spots that bulge out of the tree’s grain to form sometimes wild and gnarly shapes. Although these burls are essentially deformities, they are extreme-ly prized by artists and furniture makers, who love them for their shapes, patterns, and rare beauty.

Steve has nicknamed Righteous Woods the “Burl Den” because of these gorgeous gifts of nature, which the company might cut into slices, chop into blocks, or simply leave intact. Furniture makers could use them to create a tabletop, or artists might turn one on a lathe to make fantastic, natural-edged bowls, vases, urns, or other de?cor. Inside, smaller burls are stacked or strewn on the floor, and outside, behind the Righteous Woods building, are burls so big and untamed-looking they seem as though the store couldn’t contain them.

“Some of this stuff is fantastic looking,” Bob says.

“Wood people” revel in walking through the sweet-smelling Righteous Woods, exploring the different boards from around the world and admiring the burls. As one recent customer murmured to himself as he wandered among the rows of woods, searching for a single, large board for a boat seat, “I love this place.”