Jeff the Woodman – Using the Wood Skills God Gave Him 

Jeff with Sawed Log

Jeff the Woodman displays one of his neatly sawed pieces of wood. He takes pride in perfection; and his woodlot, where he specializes in hardwoods, shows his precise tendency for neat stacks. (Photo by Gaye Bunderson) 

By Gaye Bunderson 

Jeff Grosboll drives a weathered 1981 GMC truck, and when his son tries to talk him into getting something newer, Jeff replies that material things just don’t matter to him. Thankfully, the truck still works, and so does Jeff, despite his somewhat weathered state as well. 

At 73, Grosboll is known by many as Jeff the Woodman or Jeff the Wood Guy. He saws and stacks wood like nobody’s business; he takes pride in the beauty of his logs and the neat stacks of wood varieties that are arranged throughout his lot. 

“I turn bad, crappy-looking wood into good wood,” Jeff said. “I was raised to be a perfectionist; my dad raised me that way.” 

His dad was not a wood guy like his son, but Jeff explained that his father would grow a beautiful  garden and then inevitably spot that one tiny little weed that needed to be pulled. 

Jeff was formerly in the landscaping business, but that work bottomed out during the so-called Great Recession. “The economy took a dive 10-15 years ago,” Jeff explained, “and I lost a lot of jobs. People had unused lawn equipment in their garages and realized they could do the yard work themselves and save money.” 

Jeff started selling wood shortly afterward, catering to small-quantity orders such as wood for camping, fire pits, barbecues, and similar uses. His enterprise is called Jeff’s Firewood, and he uses Craigslist and the side of his aged truck to get the word out. 

It’s work that sustains him financially, and Jeff admits that if not for his wood, “I’d be starving and homeless. This is survival for me. I bank every penny I make to survive.” 

But the wood is not really the only thing that sustains him. 

Jeff came to Idaho in 1998, but he was born and raised in California. “I was baptized as a child,” he said, “but later I got in with the wrong people and got into drugs.” 

He married and divorced, but all those years of his life are behind him now; he is drug-free, and his family consists of a 42-year-old son and an 18-year-old granddaughter who is in college. 

One day about a year and a half ago, a local pastor, Gary Barton, stopped into Jeff’s lot to see about getting some wood for his home fireplace and his cabin’s woodstove; while he was there, the two men started chatting. During the course of their conversation, Gary asked Jeff if he was a Christian. The man who was baptized as a child lost his way as he grew up and got older, but something in his heart still wanted to believe. He answered “yes” when Gary asked him if he could pray with him. The men climbed into Jeff’s truck. 

“I was in the driver’s seat and Gary was in the passenger seat, and I was crying. Gary reconnected me with the Lord,” Jeff said. “I may look like a tough guy, but I’m pretty emotional. I can cry at the drop of a hat. 

“Gary has a nondenominational home fellowship and Bible study that I go to. He’s taught me so much and opened me up to the Holy Spirit and to God. I’d left and gone astray and got hung up on drugs. I shouldn’t even be here today. But God’s always been there for me.” 

He is tearful while reliving the story. “God gave me the emotions,” he said, “but I can’t stop them. He’s given me a humble heart.” 

Said Gary about his friend: “Jeff is humble, hungry for truth, and very thankful. I love his heart to grow and to learn. He prays a lot! And God is blessing his life. He is a real survivor.” 

Jeff thanks God for the wood and the woodlot, for his skills at sawing and stacking, and for his knowledge of so many things wood-related – all of which he’s learned through experience: “God gave me the abilities to do what I do, and if He hadn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do it.” 

On his lot, Jeff sells stacks of applewood, elm, black locust, honey locust, white ash, sycamore, English walnut, and red and silver maple. He’s well-versed in wood vocabulary and the use of various woods. His conversation includes such nuggets as: 

 “Willow is a softer hardwood. It’s good for camping. After an hour and a half, the flames go out and you can cook on the coals, and then the coals go out and you don’t risk starting a forest fire. It burns a nice ambience flame. 

“Red maple burns hot and long and so does silver maple, black locust, honey locust, white ash, and elm; and an applewood fire burns REALLY hot!” 

He said people tell him they buy log bundles at a store but say, “’There’s not much wood and it doesn’t burn long’. People want hardwood, but they don’t know anything about it – about as much as the hardwood knows about people,” Jeff said with a twinkle. “So I tell them about the hardwoods.” 

Some of the ‘weatheredness’ of his body includes carpal tunnel syndrome: “I used to split all the wood by hand, but now I have carpel tunnel and use a chainsaw.” 

In November of last year he took a couple of falls on his woodlot. “I banged myself up pretty darn good,” he said. “I hurt both knees – sciatic nerves – ankles, right elbow, wrist.” 

But he never stopped sawing. 

“God is my strength for sure. He has His hand upon me.” 

Jeff gets along well with his neighbors and said he prays for them frequently. In fact, his woodlot was offered to him by one neighbor, John O’Rourke. “I used to chop wood in my driveway until John came by on his bike one day and said to me, ‘Geez, why are you making such a mess here?’” 

John took Jeff to the vacant lot he owned down the street and told the Woodman he could chop and store his wood there, for free. As a trade, Jeff started trimming John’s bushes and taking care of his shrubs. 

It was the beginning of a friendship between John, his wife, and their adult children. John passed away in his 90s, but the arrangement the two men made still holds. 

All of Jeff’s wood is uniformly cut – “I cut in a line and horizontally” – and he has a wooden measuring stick that he uses to keep all the pieces a specific length. 

“He cuts firewood in the most unique and beautiful way, so tidy and organized are his stacks that they amaze people,” Gary stated. “His knowledge of hardwoods is remarkable. … He tells every customer about a God who helps and delivers. People leave his lot richer after spending their money and time there.” 

On the woodlot, Jeff also has a tall stack of shredded wood and a pile of wood knots. “People use the shreddings for livestock bedding or in their gardens,” he explained. “I sell truckloads of it.” 

The pile of knots is because, in his perfectionism, Jeff doesn’t want to sell his wood with knots in it. So, he said, “I cut them off and sell them by the barrel.” 

He admitted that though he needs the money he makes from the wood, he doesn’t keep sawing and stacking through injuries, bad weather, and other adversities just for the dollars. “I love doing it,” he said. 

One man delivers all of the wood Jeff needs throughout the year. Jeff works with it rain or shine, losses of balance, old truck be darned, and cold weather or hot. The wood is always welcomed and the Lord is always with the Woodman. 


For more information, contact Jeff by phone at (208) 375-5634. 

Free Digital Subscription Sign Up

Free Digital Subscription Sign Up

Share this post with your friends