Trees, repurposed

Local arborist turns old trunks and limbs into handcrafted furniture

No doubt about it, the Tackle Box Bar & Grill is the place to be this month. To their credit, I was over there last week, just before Chico Breaks the Record took over in April, and I was floored by the renovations.

For those who haven’t been there—or haven’t been in a while—the whole place has gotten a makeover. The stage has moved from just inside the windows to the far right wall; a nice, large dance floor sits in front of it; and surrounding that dance floor are beautifully crafted wooden tables. If you look even more closely, you’ll see more wooden tables in the eatery area, complete with stools, that have clearly been handcrafted.

It should be noted that the rest of the bar tables and stools have been revamped, too, so this sure isn’t last year’s Tackle Box. (Don’t worry, they still have the same delicious fish ’n’ chips and peanuts in the shell—just toss ’em on the ground. Fun!)

But I digress. The wooden tables and chairs were what really drew my attention, and I had to find out who had done such beautiful, usable works of art. The answer: Scott McMillan, certified arborist and owner of McMillan Tree Service.

When it comes to trees, McMillan is no joke. He’s worked with them for 28 years, he told me, and has owned his own business trimming, shaping, milling and removing them for 20 of them. It wasn’t until recently that he decided to do something with those felled trees.

“Instead of chipping it up and making garbage out of it, I try to make it go full circle,” he said. “Now when I cut a tree, it’s an opportunity to make something out of it.”

Don’t get him wrong, though. He doesn’t like cutting down trees. “I try to salvage every one I can,” he said. “But sometimes you have to make a decision.”

He’d done small projects using wood before, he said, and he’d always gotten compliments on them. Now he’s opening a separate business, called Creative Reclaimed Woods, where he can take the waste from his tree service and turn it into something nice.

“I’m able to use the wood we take out of the urban forest and try to put it back into people’s homes around here,” McMillan said, an air of satisfaction in his voice.

I returned to the Tackle Box this week, during Monday’s blackout no less, and the place was completely packed. Kudos to everyone who’s keeping the music alive, generators and all. Seeing his tables lined with people, covered in pints and overflowing baskets of frog’s legs, was satisfying—and I didn’t even make the darn things. But knowing they came from local trees that had to be cut down, and that they were cut and sanded and crafted with love, added just a little bit of magic to the room.

Check out McMillan’s work by stopping by the Tackle Box, or visit (he said the site will be up sometime this week).