unique finishes for land and sea

I started timberframing in the early '80's for Tedd benson as a part time job, simply to learn the skill. I was working for a remodelling company in Saxtons River, VT. On one particular house, the company's owner said, "I want to show you something". We walked into a huge garage, framed in heavy timber. I had only one reaction: that I would learn this form of carpentry no matter what it took. As it turned out, one of the guys on our crew had a brother-in-law who worked for Benson Woodworking.

I drove to Alstead that night and called Tedd Benson. We traded favors; I installed the plumbing in his home, and part of the payment was the opportunity to train in his shop (he paid me a good wage for both jobs). Tedd is an amazing man, with humble, family-oriented beginnings - you would never guess the obstacles he overcame to be where he is today.

He and "the boys in the Beamery" - Tom, Chris, Dennis, Pete, and those whose names I wish I could remember - helped me discover what had been in my soul all of my life. Back then the wood of choice was Northern Red Oak. It was gun barrel-straight as was the once plentiful Chestnut, and strong. Cutting joinery with sharp tools was as precise as it gets, and a delight for any woodworker. But it checked, twisted, and lost dimensional stability rather quickly in a home kept at constant ambient temperature.

I was convinced that the right finish could solve these issues, at least to the point of keeping the use of this species a great choice for a frame. This is why I began making wood finish. I believe I have succeeded, even more than I had hoped. It became evident as well that my finishes were suitable for any woodwork. Joe Robson (of Tried and True) - one of the world's premier violin varnish makers - who shared, taught, and put up with my questions and general pestering, is the person who enabled me to transform a hobby into a profitable enterprise.

But, a savvy businessman I am not; and I made several serious mistakes.  There are now two other companies representing themselves as 'Land Ark'. They initially contacted me
beginning in 2001 or so, stating they wanted to help me build Land Ark to reach its full potential. I both liked and trusted these individuals, and I supplied them with proprietary formula information and customer contacts. I tried working with both, because I had reached my maximum production and shipping capability at 10,000 gallons per year. I was beginning to lose the ability to fill orders in an acceptable time frame. I started to envision an organizational plan that would benefit us all, and was working toward that end.

I soon realized what each group really wanted - control of Land Ark, and it quickly became apparent that these two groups would have nothing to do with each other, nor wanted my direction, nor wanted to work with a large buyer in Japan, and one in Russia so that we could offer a product globally. It could have been an outstanding business relationship. Despite years of communication, I could not bring all parties into a working, equitable partnership that would have benefited us all. They use and manufacture both my product name and and the finish, but there is still not a unified 'THE LAND ARK WOOD FINISH COMPANY'.

I am hoping that the breakthrough in formulation that I have finally achieved can be the unifying factor that will make Land Ark one company. I have not given this formulation to the other two companies manufacturing Land Ark. It is only manufactured by me. If you prefer buying from them, ask them to start stocking these improved finishes. I invite you to test the products side by side. Purchase the one that best suits your needs

Welcome to our new web site. It is a work in progress - just like the finishes I formulate. I believe in only one standard - to make the best wood finish that I possibly can. In the manufacture of a premium grade wood finish, this means sourcing the very best raw materials, and formulating them in the best way possible, regardless of the time and cost that this takes.

For me, it also means keeping out toxic additives, such as heavy-metal driers, chemical anti-microbials and UVA's, and petro-based products and distillates; and replacing them with safe, effective resins and mineral compounds that are highly desireable in a wood finish.

This has occupied much of my time for these past three years. It has been worth it. I have developed to my satisfaction what I believe to be the most unique, and best, of any solvent-based penetrating oil finish.

I am a manufacturer, not a retail middle man with shelves of inventory. I make every 55 gallon batch from scratch; and it is usually sold before it is finished. That means I get backed up in shipping orders according to customers' time frames. Please try to give me as much lead time as possible.

Mike & Nita Baugh


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