Ask the Staff


I have recently come across some old reclaimed wood. I have seen several pieces of furniture made from reclaimed wood and rough cut lumber. Are there some resources or classes available to help with working with reclaimed wood? For instance are there any special cleaning methods or products that need to be use when prepping the wood? Are there any special techniques for finishing the wood?

Terry Baker
New Brighton, PA



Well, reclaimed wood can be very nice and, at the same time, very dirty, full of debris and all kinds of things that can dull your blades.

Start by checking for nails and bits of metal. Use a metal detector.

If the exterior of the wood looks dirty, then clean it with water and a stiff brush. Be sure to let it dry well. Just get the dirt and soil out of the pores and off of the surface.

Once you have completed these steps decide just how you are going to use it. 100 years of hard earned patina can be planed off in one pass so decide if you want the original look of the wood or if you just want to make old wood look new again.

The nice feature of reclaimed wood is that it might be old growth with tight, straight grain - features not easy to find in newly milled timber.

Finish the wood as you like it. Oils will bring out the rich, warm tone of any wood. This would be my preference.

As for resources, there are books on building rustic and period furniture (even Medieval furniture!). We carry several titles here at the store. Just give us a call and one of us would be more than happy to describe what books we have. Need a class, better check the Internet for the opportunities near you.

Take care and enjoy your future projects.

Sam Rieder
Highland Woodworking

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