Reclaimed Lumber

Why would you use old wood on new projects?

 

Bench made from reclaimed wood

 

 

What is reclaimed lumber?

Reclaimed lumber is a term used to describe old wood that has been taken off any old structure or piece of furniture.  It is milled or processed wood that is taken from its original use for the purpose of using it again in another project. It is a term used to cover a broad range of wood types. Old barns tend to be one of the primary sources of reclaimed wood. Technically any wood taken from one project and used on another project can be called reclaimed wood. The key to the value of reclaimed wood lies in the age. Wood that was harvested years ago from a natural virgin forest is of more value than wood harvested from more recent tree farms. All reclaimed wood has value in that it has been recycled and reprocessed into a new product. The more wood we keep out of the landfill equates to fewer trees being cut down.

 

What is the value in reclaimed wood?

Reclaimed wood is recycling at its best! In the US, wood was once the main building material. Wood was plentiful, strong and relatively inexpensive. Once many of the natural virgin forests were depleted, woods that were once abundant are now only available in large quantities through reclamation. Longleaf pines are an example of a once abundant tree that grew thick in North America.  Longleaf pine was used to build factories and warehouses in the US. These trees take 200- 400 years to mature. They grow tall, straight and had a natural resistance to mold and insects. Longleaf pine is now sold as Heart Pine. Heart pine is only available as a reclaimed wood because it is no longer harvested for lumber. Heart pine is not used for large structures anymore because it is difficult to acquire in mass quantities. This is the case for several tree species in the US.

The demand for wood depleted many “natural” forests. Tree farms were established to grow fast growing trees.  Management of the tree farms is geared to maximize the tree growth in a short amount of time. Pine is usually the tree of choice for tree farms.  New woods have much wider growth rings than older wood from a natural forest. The wider growth ring is indicative of fast growth.

Denser growth rings are evident on older reclaimed wood. These older trees had to fight for light and food in a dense virgin forest. The trees grew more slowly due to the natural struggle for light and food. Slow tree growth leads to thinner growth rings in the wood. Thinner growth rings creates a denser wood. As you would imagine, a denser wood is stronger and less likely to warp.

Reclaimed wood has many valuable properties. The wood is stronger and less likely to warp. There are many types of wood that are no longer harvested and thus are only available as reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood has a unique appearance that shows its history and origin. Reclaimed wood has already been exposed to changes in humidity and thus it is a more stable wood. Reclaimed wood is a resource that can be recycled and reused. The use of reclaimed wood eliminates the wood from landfills and leads to fewer trees harvested. Reclaimed wood is stronger than new wood and it is eco friendly.

Look at the tight growth rings in this reclaimed wood.

 

The growth rings on this piece of new lumber are much wider than the growth rings on the reclaimed wood.

 

 

We use reclaimed wood

As the popularity of reclaimed wood increases, reclaimed wood is not always easy to find and use. Another drawback to using reclaimed wood is that it requires more work than purchasing new lumber. Often you have to spend time extracting the wood from its original product. The process of taking it off of the old barn, keeping planks intact and extracting nails or metal from the wood is tedious and time consuming. Depending on the project, the wood may need to be planed down to a specific size. If the wood needs to be planed, be sure to remove all nails or metal from the wood so as not to ruin your planer. If the wood has been out weathering the elements, the wood will need to be dried before being used on another project. When using reclaimed wood on a project, you want the wood to be dry, free from old nails and relatively clean.  

When crafting items, Bob uses as much reclaimed wood as he is able to use. Therefore, each piece is unique. Bob can build the same piece over and over again. When using reclaimed wood, there will be slight variations in each piece that are caused by the natural variations in the reclaimed wood. These differences are what make working with reclaimed wood fun and interesting, as well as eco friendly. We feel the value of reclaimed wood outweighs the drawbacks. The extra time and energy put into recovering this old wood & recycling it brings dividends with the end result. The end result is a piece that is sturdy, well built and will stand the test of time. Our company values quality. We believe or customers also place value in the use of reclaimed wood.

 

If you want to talk about being “green” with your space and lifestyle, then you need to walk the walk. This means being selective on what you purchase. Many people intentionally use products that reduce waste. Instead of throwing away 3 water bottles a day, you choose to refill your own water container. In keeping with this mindset, choose to purchase products that are made from recycled materials and products that will last. Many big box stores sell furniture and home decor at low prices. This furniture will not stand the test of time. After a few years, this furniture will end up in the landfill and you will be purchasing new items. If you look for quality and purchase with intent, you will have items that will last a lifetime. In the long run, you save money as well as save the environment. These intentional purchases may not always be easy but in the end they are worth the effort. This is our mindset when producing products for our customers. We build with intent and quality. We also finish our products with eco friendly paint and finishing products. Quality, eco friendly products that bring function and joy to your space is our goal.

 

 

 

Discover more from Heritage Creations

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading