I have a friend that is dropping an old barn with some really nice heavy
timber. I want to use the heavy timber as the corner posts etc. for a large
deck I'm building. I know it's overkill but I'm doing it for the look not
the strength. The only question I have right now is what is the best way to
treat the lumber so that it will not rot out? IDEAS?
Those beams could be anything from white pine [which won't last long
no matter what you do] to black locust. [which will last 100 years
with no treatment.] What part of the world you live in & the age
of the barn might be clues, but it isn't likely give you much more
than a guess of what kind of lumber you have.
Chances are your local codes will require pressure treated for the
I think you'd be better off selling the beams to someone who will use
them inside and buy some big PT & distress it yourself.
I'm in Southern Ontario and the beams aren't much if anything if they are
sold, there are way to many barns in this area that are being torn down. I
want the look of old heavy timber, buying new pressure treated wouldn't feel
or look the same. I thought the beams might be ash but I think they may also
be maple. I'll have a look tonight and see if I can find out. Any good
websites on telling the difference between wood types?
Best thing to do is to plane, scrape or sand a small portion of it smooth so
that the grain can be readily seen. Then post photos of it to
alt.pictures.binaries.woodworking with a request to ID the wood. That group is
frequented by many hobbyist and professional woodworkers. Somebody will be
able to tell you what it is.
Subjective impressions of how hard the wood is will be helpful in making the
identification, e.g. does it sand smooth with ease, or does it feel like
you're trying to sand a rock?
If the wood has any noticeable odor, either dry or wet, mention that too.
Example: if it doesn't have much of an odor dry, but smells like cat urine
when it's wet, it's definitely red oak.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Hardwoods will last a fairly long time in the ground, but softwoods
will rot in no time. However, carpenter ants and the like can ruin
any posts in a short time. I have used hardwood posts and I paint the
part that goes in the ground with roofing tar. Not the thick roofing
cement, but the thin tar, which is made to be brushed on a flat roof.
If you want a little better penetration, mix a little gasoline or
kerosene or diesel fuel with it. A little drain oil from your car
also helps, either alone, or better with the tar. Before pressure
treatment, they used to use creosote, which was similar to tar.
Creosote is now banned in the US because of environmental issues (I am
not sure why). Maybe you can still get it up there. I know that new
power poles are treated with something that looks and feels just like
tar, and even smells like it. They used to use creosote, so I am not
sure what the new stuff is, but it sure looks to be tar.
I've asked the owner of the barn and he said.
"When the barn was built, approximately 100 years ago, the dominate forest
tree in that area was black ash with some white ash on the better drained
soils. I would think that in that barn the beams would be primarily black
ash with some white ash, it would be great for baseball bats."
I went and cut a sample piece of wood last night and will be posting
pictures to alt.pictures.binaries.woodworking later
from what I know this wood is not Ash or cedar, it cut really easy with the
chainsaw and my neighbour seems to think that it may be elm. I'll let you
know when I find out. THANKS.
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