Old Wood Can Cost More Than New Lumber. People Want It Anyway.

Old Wood Can Cost More Than New Lumber. People Want It Anyway. Fans go to extreme lengths to find weathered beams and boards; ‘rec laimed wormy chestnut’
By Cecilie Rohwedder, April 10, 2019, Wall St. Journal
In an orange dumpster one recent Sunday morning, between old bricks and tra sh bags, Heather Olsen struck gold: rustic wood beams that once held the fl oor of a 100-year-old house.
A nurse, mother of two and hobby woodworker from Bowie, Md., she once took a break from work to salvage wood from a historic house, returning with her sweater covered in sawdust. Another time, she tore her jacket with rusty n ails sticking out from rough beams at a demolition site.
“I’m sure it’s a surprising sight for some people; I’m a petite woman and I’ll be in a dumpster or wielding a circular saw,” says Ms. Olsen, 34. “I’m kind of obs essed with wood.”
Homeowners, interior designers and crafts fans are going to extreme lengths for very old wood. To find perfectly weathered beams and boards they rent trucks to drive to distant sawmills, troll online classifieds or chat up fo remen on construction sites. They prowl dilapidated barns, salvage yards or supermarket loading docks in search of discarded planks or pallets.
Fans of reclaimed lumber like it as worn as possible, with saw marks and na il holes as welcome additions. Some celebrate knots or cracks. Others have a weakness for wormholes. Old wood, they say, has a history and character m ass-produced lumber can’t match.
When Ann and Corey Limbaugh renovated the attic of their home in Seattle fo ur years ago, she spent weeks calling local lumberyards for pre-used wood. Eventually, she found one that had just received boards from an old buildin g in Idaho. She was told to hurry because they wouldn’t be there fo r long.
So early the next morning, she embarked on a two-hour drive and a ferry rid e to the tip of the Olympic Peninsula to secure the richly grained planks t hat are now an accent wall in a bedroom.
“We wanted it to have this old, lived-in look,” says Ms. Li mbaugh, 49. She also liked the idea of recycling building materials.
“People our age don’t want the IKEA bookshelf everyone else has,” says Ruthie Mundell, 40, of Community Forklift, a warehouse outside Washington, D.C., that sells salvaged building supplies. “T hey want a story.”
Charlie Isaacs, 60, an executive with Salesforce.com Inc., reused the floor of a 1925 cottage on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay that he and his wif e, Paula, tore down to build a new house.
Ms. Isaacs fell in love with the wide, reddish pine planks on the ground fl oor when she first set foot in the cottage. One afternoon in the fall of 20 17, just before the planned demolition, she started to cry.
“You’ve got to save these floors, you’ve just got t o,” she pleaded with her husband.
Mr. Isaacs went to the basement with a big hammer and a piece of lumber. He knocked on the floor boards from below and managed to push one up.
Workers later carefully took out each plank in a time-consuming, costly pro cess. Two 16-foot box trucks took them to be stored, cut and milled at Old Wood Delaware, a lumber mill.
“When I picked it up, it wasn’t the greatest-looking stuff, but it had a lot of character,” says owner Martin Bueneman. He re- delivered the floors in February, but the Isaacs wanted more old wood.
“We had to go barn-beam shopping,” says Ms. Isaacs, 62.
“You made me drive to Pennsylvania in 30-degree weather,” s ays Mr. Isaacs.
Prices vary, depending on the wood’s quality. But reclaimed wood ca n more than double the price of a building project, says Marc Poirier, owne r of Long Leaf Lumber, of Cambridge, Mass., which sells wood from barns, sh ipyards and churches. A new oak plank popular for flooring costs around $4. 50 a square foot, while a reclaimed plank can cost around $10.50 a square f oot, he says.
Craig Jacobs, of Salvagewrights in Orange, Va., often gets calls from farme rs or homeowners hoping to sell or give him old buildings in exchange for t aking them down. Sometimes, he spots attractive wood from the road.
In the Virginia countryside one day, he inspected a ramshackle shed but it was too wrecked to disassemble without damaging the wood. A house from the 1800s, soon to be razed, had more potential, but he felt the owner might as k a high price.
Then he found a winner: a once-graceful plantation home, with a carved wood balustrade customers would love, and an intact roof that had protected the frame and floorboards from rain and rot. Salvaging the timber would take f ive workers over two weeks and cost around $8,000, he estimated.
The floor alone, made of sturdy Southern Pine, would recover that cost, whi le the frame could fetch another $10,000.
“Hunting it down is a big part of the appeal,” says Mr. Jac obs, who once drove all the way to Indiana for promising lumber. “T he hunt is getting it before it ends up in a pile and someone puts a match to it.”
Among his best finds: wood from James Madison’s Montpelier estate i n Virginia.
Zach Robbins, a 28-year-old technology executive from Chattanooga, Tenn., b uilt his wife, Kathleen, a bed from that wood. As a break from his screen-h eavy day job, Mr. Robbins started making furniture. Building the bed took a year. “It was a wedding gift that turned into a one-year-anniversa ry gift,” says Mr. Robbins.
Some rescue missions can be risky. As Paul Krause, an artist from Sandy Spr ings, Ga., was reclaiming Southern Pine on a 19th-century farm, he spotted a different wood in a crumbling barn.
Holding up the hay loft were six square posts that he guessed were pecan wo od. A rich espresso tone with a grayish hue, they had mineral stains and in sect damage, and he was determined to extract them—without the roof collapsing on his head.
With a friend, he found other support beams, chopped them to the needed len gth and placed them near the pecan beams. Then he cut out the coveted beams with a chain saw. “That barn wasn’t the safest of structur es,” says Mr. Krause, 54. “If my wife had been there, she w ould have yelled at us.”
Today, the beams, smoothed and coated, hold up a metal tabletop in the week end home of Kay and David Penter on Lake Oconee, Ga. On the table, they kee p a small block of the original barn posts.
“That’s how we can tell people where the wood for our table came from,” says Mr. Penter, a 54-year-old banker in Atlanta. ? ??It’s the whole story in the background.”
To devotees of distressed wood, imperfections make it more interesting, say s Tim Brosius, who owns Rescued Relics Reclaimed Barn Wood in Brookville, P a., with his girlfriend, Victoria Nation.
On Craigslist, the couple recently advertised a “large supply of re claimed wormy chestnut.” The post brought in “tons and tons ” of customers, they say. One so wanted the wormy wood, taken from a barn near Pittsburgh, that she asked to pay in installments. At $7 a squa re foot, flooring for two rooms, or roughly 400 square feet, cost her aroun d $2,800.
“Instead of clean, traditional wood, people want mismatched, rough- cut lumber,” Mr. Brosius says. “We have turned down barns t hat were in too good of a condition.” ==================================WSJ Reporter Cecilie Rohwedder asks: Have you ever used reclaimed building materials, and if so, what did you bu ild? [ALL RESPONSES 86]
Seth Roberto, 13 hours ago Glad I can comment on old wood (and old news), but not on the new AG Barr-M ueller developments. Thanks, WSJ.
Dane Flaherty, 12 hours ago Ditto. What he said. The WSJ was my go-to spot to feel the pulse of the public on the breaking n ews stories of the day. With this new commenting policy it appears I will need to go elsewhere.
William Inks, 9 hours ago Yep..I think that IS the point Dane.....WSJ doesn't want you to 'feel the p ulse'...news over the past couple weeks including Mueller's no collusion fi nding and Barr's launch of an investigation into FBI/Justice shenanigans p erpetrated against the Trump Campaign has liberals with TDS heading to the ir safe spaces, clutching support animals. Wormy Wood Indeed!
patrick BOOTH, 8 hours ago Yep, also it has always been annoying that you can't comment via the WSJ ap p, now this.
Mark Huson, 11 hours ago Only being able to comment on select articles is pretty bad. What is even w orse is the over the top curating by posting leading questions. This direct s the conversation. I am not sorry that this discussion is being hijacked. I also fully expect this comment to be removed.
Teresa Holck, 11 hours ago The inability to comment on articles reminds me of the days at camp where w e were all punished for the foolish actions of a few.
Seth Roberto, 7 hours ago They fancy treating their paying customers like children... Well, two can p lay at that. No more allowance for you, WSJ!
Mark Davis, 1 hour ago Re: days at camp. And no lunch unless you bring a letter to home ....
Martin Wagner, 11 hours ago Most of the articles on the WSJ are merely "skim worthy". The interesting s tuff is in the comments. Much of my work is of the hurry up/wait variety an d the WSJ was a nice diversion during the wait periods. Not so much anymore .
George Fisher, 9 hours ago I'm cancelling my subscription (been reading the old WSJ since '92). Not b ecause of the change to the comment policy, it is their business and they c an run it how they see fit, but because the value equation is now out of wh ack. I'd say at least 50% of the value I received from the WSJ was from th e comment section. So they doubled the price.
Don't even get me started on how the paper built on " Free People, Free Mar kets" can decide that censoring is a good idea . . . . .
Seth Roberto, 8 hours ago I don't even know how they could be doing this. I understand their reasonin g behind it, which appears to be to "protect" their third-rate reporters fr om any criticism. Pathetic. I always thought the same thing regarding the W SJ and free markets/people, and I have praised them in recent days for allo wing comments on every article without censorship or extreme moderation. We ll, not anymore. I also share your value concept regarding comments as well . If you give someone new freedoms, you can't just take them away later and expect your readership/customers/citizens to be happy with you.
I will probably cancel my subscription as well. AP Reuters or other outlets have the same/similar reporting, but for free. I don't think I can continu e to support the WSJ at this point...
JAMES MELLON, 8 hours ago Jim's wife: I like reading the comments, too, but some of the comments post ed under the old system effectively tried to censor others by bullying thos e others (some of whom were also subscribers, with as much right to be ther e as anyone) out of commenting.
Anytime there was an article pertaining solely or mostly to women, you coul d bet that the comments about it would mostly be from men, and of an extrem ely misogynistic bent. Did that really add value to the discourse or enhanc e the information presented in the article? No, and neither did remarks ins ulting/promoting stereotypes about black people, Latinos, gays/lesbians, an d others, and, in come cases, actively advocating illegal discrimination ag ainst those people. I'm glad that sort of thing will no longer be permitted , and I will certainly renew our subscription to the WSJ.
Seth Roberto, 7 hours ago James' Wife, Bullying or making fun of people is bad, but it's not censorship. Please sp are me from your worthless rhetoric about how certain speech should be bann ed because of other peoples' feelings. Anytime there was an article pertaining solely or mostly to women, you coul d bet that the comments about it would mostly be from men, and of an extrem ely misogynistic bent. Did that really add value to the discourse or enhanc e the information presented in the article? Why should women be able to bash the value that men add to a household, and prevent men from responding (as in the Melinda Gates article)? Does that r eally add to the "discourse"? No, it doesn't. You seem to be more than happ y with "sexism" going one way, but not the other. Interesting...
And when has anyone "promoted stereotypes about (insert victim class here)" ? It doesn't seem like you read the comments here very often. Actual racism was banned before anyways; you just want to squash any diversity of though t...
Seth Roberto, 7 hours ago Edit: Also, there is no "right" to not be offended, as you seem to insinuat e in your first paragraph above.
In public and elsewhere, my actual rights to free speech are far more impor tant than your feelings, and the founding fathers thought so too...
Judy Harmon Smith, 4 hours ago To Jim's wife: I saw the same thing you describe, the comments about women -- but I welcomed the opportunity to call out those who maybe just wrote w ithout thinking, or flat-out are lamenting the bygone days when men owned a nd ran everything.
JAMES MELLON, 3 hours ago Jim's wife: Seth, this is not a public forum, but a private forum for which the WSJ is liable, and the newspaper has every right to control the discus sion.
The only comment I made to the Melinda Gates essay was that she was probabl y quite busy, too, what with running the Gates Foundation and all, whether or not she had a paid job. That was in response to a comment to the effect that Bill was too important and too busy to make the school run, something that he apparently nevertheless opted to do at the request of his wife. (Am azing how those who say they value freedom yet want to control others' choi ces!) For the record, however, I think that your presumption that your opin ion adds more to the discussion than Ms. Gates' obviously much more informe d position is the height of arrogance.
You are aware that the founding fathers were born of mothers, right?
Anyhow, I thought you were leaving, since censorship hurts your feelings so much that you are canceling your subscription. 'Bye now.
JAMES MELLON, 3 hours ago Jim's wife: Judy, that makes sense, but what about the others, by whom I me an those who deliberately make remarks that they know are offensive? The th ing that I find hard to understand is how so many bigoted remarks went unch allenged. Does that indicate that most others here approved of such, or tha t they simply didn't care enough to voice an objection or to (anonymously, as far as other readers were concerned) report offensive comments? Neither case flatters the WSJ readership. On at least a couple of occasions, though , some really good people called out others who had attacked me personally, and I am grateful for that.
JAMES MELLON, 2 hours ago Jim's wife: You don't know me, else you would know that I support, financia lly and otherwise, a male relative (not my husband, child, brother, or fath er) who was unfairly shortchanged in a divorce agreement because of outdate d cultural expectations favoring women in some situations.
I have a husband and sons, as well as daughters, and of course I want the b est for them. I have realized that, however, that, for women, any major lif e choice still seems to be a damned-if-she-does, damned-if-she-doesn't prop osition, because there is still much hatred of and undervaluing of women in our society, as well as lots of interference from self-declared advocates of freedom who nevertheless want to control women.
If you think that men are treated unfairly in any circumstance, then obviou sly you may wish to advocate for change in that respect, but don't be surpr ised if their already being mostly favored hampers that effort. Life should n't be a zero-sum game between men and women.
Seth Roberto, 1 hour ago James' Wife: (Amazing how those who say they value freedom yet want to control others' c hoices!) Nobody is telling anyone how to live their lives besides Melinda. She is sa ying that men need to do more housework (about 50% of) instead of women doi ng it. Why should she tell me how to live my life? Nice try, Jim's wife, bu t you failed again. You are aware that the founding fathers were born of mothers, right? Okay? Everyone was/is. What other major accomplishments did those mothers h ave besides pushing a baby out? None. What is your point?
Stop acting like a victim. Women have equality of opportunity in this count ry equal to that of men, and often graduate at higher rates than their coun terpart. If a woman is in a situation where she has to feed the kids and do household chores, she put herself there. Nobody forced her to have a child or quit her job. 'Bye now. I know you'd love if I would leave before the month is over. I'll pass. You 're the one with the hurt feelings; not me.
STEVEN MILLER, 8 hours ago The Journal asks me to "join the conversation" on the cottage in Bay Harbor Maine, only to find no comments are allowed there either. Very confusing. I probably can't be trusted to make comments anyway. Apropos this "highe r level of discourse" coincides with the first photo of a black hole.
JOSEPH MICHAEL, 7 hours ago Not only that, but I learned much more from reading the comments on technic al articles than from the article itself, as WSJ has a bunch of highly-acco mplished readers who have developed considerable domain expertise in their specialty.
We should all email the moderator en masse and let them know we don't need to be treated as if we are still in school!
Seth Roberto, 7 hours ago That's the best part about the WSJ comments; the community is full of succe ssful and well-informed individuals who always have something interesting t o say, no matter what is going on. I don't know if that can be replicated elsewhere, unfortunately.
I have already contacted the moderator and all of the foolish staff members (most are fresh imports from the NY Times) about these new changes, and my feelings about them. I encourage everyone else to do the same. I also told them I will be leaving, which I will be, if this censorship terror continu es any longer and/or gets worse.
William Wahl, 7 hours ago It is almost like the WSJ knows it is reporting fake news and doesn't want to face the music about it from their readers.
Seth Roberto, 7 hours ago Exactly. If your reporting/journalism is sound, you should allow for others to share their thoughts openly about it, on every article. That's what I a dmired so much about the WSJ before this reign of terror began...
William Amado, 8 hours ago The mods just spit out my note that my bedroom furniture was made of reclai med wood . It was made by the Amish in a town called ___________, PA. See if you can think of a name of a town in the Amish country of PA which migh t not make it past the censors..
Robert Sheck, 4 hours ago Seems pretty obvious to me~
michael macaulay, 3 hours ago What is with the limitations on commenting now? Some articles let you, some don't. Does anyone know?
Peter Kranzler, 2 hours ago If there is a discernible pattern, it seems to be that they close off nearl y all of the controversial topics to comment threads.
Michael Gombola, 6 hours ago If anyone wants to be really authentic with their reclaimed wood floors, th ere is a place in New Jersey that makes a new version of 1880s hand-forged nails. They go well with foot-wide reclaimed pine plank floors.
Andrew Strutynsky, 3 hours ago Use cut masonry nails. They look very archaic, but are not pricey.
PETER FOLEY, 39 minutes ago Even in 1880 most nails were machine made cut wire with an upset head.
Ronald Dow, 3 hours ago In South Texas, in the late 70's - early 80's, I lived in a house that had been constructed with lumber salvaged from the debris of the 1919 Hurricane that struck Corpus Christi. The aged lumber had become so hard, it was di fficult to drive in a nail just to hang a picture. While the front porch had fallen in, as of this past December, the house was still standing.
Carl Castrogiovanni, 1 hour ago Yes, old wood generally has a lot less moisture content, and as such it is harder and more "stable" in terms of dimensions - i.e. it's not going to co ntinue to "warp" or change dimensions from what it is now at...
To get that same dimensional stability with brand new wood, that new wood w ill need to be the "engineered" variety... (e.g. composites, "micro-lams", OSB, etc., ...)
PETER FOLEY, 46 minutes ago Dimensionally stable, and changing humidity, and wood will Never happen.
See modern wood trusses with the bottom chord in the "envelope" and the top boards exposed to obscene levels of heat(very low humidity)
George Eastes, 6 hours ago Perhaps old wood was used somewhere in the project, but I fail to see why t he subject of black holes is too controversial to allow comments.
Judy Harmon Smith, 4 hours ago No kidding. What is the point of readers being led around by the nose and prohibited from choosing an article to comment on?!
JOSEPH MICHAEL, 7 hours ago One nifty thing about old wood: the 2"x 4" are actually 2" by 4".
PS having a reporter ask questions to trigger a "discussion" seems a bit un necessary. We generally are mature people with plenty of life experiences to share, we don't generally need prompting.
Anthony Aaron, 4 hours ago Not only was dimension lumber 120 years ago true to dimension -- as you say , a 2x4 was really 2" x 4" -- but from our experience as builders, that old lumber is straight and strong and free of knots and wains … in a w ord -- perfect.
William Rowell, 8 hours ago I have a collection of salvaged pieces of wood that I use primarily for rep airing things like old furniture or accent pieces that my wife finds at con signment sales. It is amazing what one can find being discarded on bulk tr ash pickup day. If I had a junky pickup truck, our place would turn into S anford and Son (divorce is threatened on that point).
Mark Dobbins, 5 hours ago I know the feeling.
I have a recurring dream - I've bought a steel building way out somewhere, filled it with used stuff from the side of the road , divvied it up by cate gory - arm chairs here, side tables there, dressers there, etc. and folks c ome through and pick out what they like. We could probably re-furnish the w orld with what gets thrown out.
William Coleman, 10 hours ago 'old wood'? the jokes write themselves. but nope. i have to keep reminding myself, elevated discourse now.
Judith Bieze, 8 hours ago Indeed! Or banishment.
Tom Lorson, 6 hours ago Elevated stupidity now.
TRENOR SCOTT, 10 hours ago There is another category of distressed woods. That is fresh cut western p ines and firs that have blue stain and borer holes. Blue stain is a discol oration that effects pines, and is carried in by very small borers - that d on't effect the strength, but do color the intervening wood. It can be qui te decorative - if you like it- some don't. Large borer holes can also be decorative, but can effect strength for construction timbers. It seems like a market that could be developed, but never really has been.
Will Geiger, 8 hours ago It has in Colorado - that's pine bark beetle killed wood. Many of the "rust ic furniture" places here sell it.
Lawrence Keen, 10 hours ago One wood be walking the plank, but I do not think so, for the unvarnished t ruth is this article nails the wish to preserve without going against the g rain. Signed, Jim Beam
Anthony Aaron, 8 hours ago I saw your demolition demonstration at that last place -- you really nailed it -- until you decided to get totally hammered with Rusty and his buddies -- and made an ash of yourself. Ciao. .-)
Andrew Strutynsky, 3 hours ago You guys are a hoot.
Andrew Strutynsky, 11 hours ago As much as I like and have my own stockpile of 150+ year old lumber, salvag ed from a rural Wisconsin farm property my parents owned, this is a daft ch oice of article to be discussing. Maybe next we can discuss and argue over apple pie and ice cream?
JAMES MELLON, 11 hours ago Jim's wife: Not at all. I own a rural property with tons of timber, and thi s article has me thinking I should be out there cutting, planing, etc., as there is a definitely a profit to be made. Now if I could just make up some stories....
Seriously, we nearly bought a house featuring what, to us, weren't particul arly attractive Wormy Chestnut walls, and one of the responses we received after sending a photo to someone was, "What's with all the holes in the wal ls?" Someone who probably loved the look more bought the house before we co uld make an offer, though.
Old wood (hardwood, at least) is more difficult to shape than newer wood, a s, if it has not been compromised, it will have become harder with age. Wou ld be careful about coming into contact with lead paint or lead paint dust, too.
Andrew Strutynsky, 9 hours ago I always enjoyed going to a wsj article that did not focus on international relations, politics, or business situations. My participation in discussions was always voluntary. I don't appreciate re ader discussions to be curated. I appreciate that our level of community discourse has been rapidly devolvi ng. So far, this cure seems to be worse than the disease.
JAMES MELLON, 8 hours ago Jim's wife: What occurred to me after seeing all of the other complaints ab out this was that there may be some liability in hosting a forum where some of the posters spew hatred. Some of the social media arms of tech giants h ave lately been grappling with this issue, so perhaps the WSJ has taken pre emptive action in that area.
With all due respect, I would guess that whether you think the cure is wors e than the disease might depend upon whether you are a member of any of the groups that were routinely subjected to denigration in the comments sectio n.
Andrew Strutynsky, 8 hours ago Groups? I write as an individual, not as a mouthpiece of some identity group. There are choices in turning off any contact with commenters who you feel a re uncivil and continually persist in ad hominem attacks. We had a "complai nt" option to flag users for inappropriate commentary. As I clearly stated, the quality of our community discourse has gone down p erceptibly in recent years. Egregious violaters of community standards should be policed. With that sai d, I am reasonably confident that wsj readers are intelligent enough to be able to hold their own in most discussions.
JOSEPH MICHAEL, 7 hours ago The ability to IGNORE USER was enough to rescue the comments section all on its own. I put about a dozen people on "ignore" when it first became ava ilable and those 12 were responsible for almost all the denigration in recu rring columns in which I comment.
JAMES MELLON, 3 hours ago Jim's wife: We certainly agree with respect to the decline in the quality o f the discourse. Not sure why very few comments were reported, even when re ally offensive things were posted. It would seem that the WSJ received many more complaints than were apparent online.
Comments could be reported and users could be ignored, but for that to happ en, the person taking action first had to read blatantly offensive stuff th at, had the site had proper moderation from the beginning, would never have made it to the page.
You may write as an individual, but most of the egregious violators appeare d to be members of a the same group. They spent their time attacking and bu llying individuals/groups that they had identified as unlike themselves, wi th, again, not much opposition from anyone excepting the individuals/groups that they had attacked. Most others simply stood by and let it happen. Per haps this latest move could have been avoided, had the community been more effective in policing itself.
Andrew Strutynsky, 2 hours ago You will always find people that disagree with you. The only thing you can do is to have the integrity to be the person you wish to be. Yes, our national discourse has become very polarized. Asking "higher power s" to suppress those with whom you disagree seems to be more than a bit of a cop out. I, for one, made use of the complaint function often when I felt commenters were not complying with the stated community standards. I never blocked an yone, but certainly ignored comments that added nothing to our discourse.
JAMES MELLON, 2 hours ago Jim's wife: It wasn't the case of someone simply disagreeing with me. I hav e no problem with that, especially if the other person has a good and ratio nal argument. The name-calling, ethnic/gender/age/racially-based slurs were what I found really offensive. So much of it was selective, as well, and I can certainly see why the WSJ reporters might have felt threatened. I thin k you might understand better had you been a member of one of the groups mo st frequently targeted for, as stated in the new rules, (paraphrasing here) characteristics present from birth. In any case, what's done is done, at l east for now, and I'm glad the WSJ took action. Should the rules be relaxed a bit in future, perhaps the commenting privilege won't again be taken for granted.
Daniel DeVey, 12 hours ago I was able to work with recovered vertical grain Longleaf Pine a few year s ago. The aroma was delicious. A difficult wood to machine and sand beca use of its high resin characteristics. It looks spectacular .
Mark judson, 11 hours ago assume when they say southern pine , they mean longleaf pine
Charles Flynn, 12 hours ago The practical advantages of old-growth wood:
From Old-Growth Wood: What It Is and Why It's Worth Keeping October 12, 201 5 —Sean Yarolin:
Old-growth wood refers to wood from trees that belonged to forests that gre w up over hundreds of years. A majority of today’s lumber is harves ted from trees that have been cultivated to grow rapidly, so the wood is no t as dense. As a result, it is weaker and more susceptible to decay and ins tability. Old-growth wood has nearly ten times the number of growth rings p er inch (meaning that it is much denser) and is more resistant to decay or damage. According Scott Sidler of The Craftsman Blog, old-growth wood has d istinct advantages over today’s wood: it is resistant to rot and te rmites, stronger and harder, and more stable. https://www.bostonbuildingresources.com/advice/old-growth-wood
Patricia Drew, 3 hours ago My brother's house was built in 1905. His heartpine flooring is the most beautiful wood I've ever seen. A deep r eddish brown, it doesn't have a single knot. I believe it's quarter-sawn; the striations from the rings are incredibly tight.
If you cut or drill the wood, it smells like it was harvested yesterday. T here are no termites despite the Southern locale.
He had to remove a small section of a beam. The wood is so dense it I'm gu essing it weighs four times than what you could currently buy.
Charles Flynn, 2 hours ago Thank you. This article has a photograph that shows the difference between old-growth wood and new-growth wood:
Old Growth Wood: What It Is And Why It’s Better Than New Growth Woo d May 24, 2017 by Historic Doors http://www.historicdoors.co.uk/blog/old-growth-wood-better-new-growth-wood/
Anthony Petrillo, 13 hours ago Yes, let's discuss wormy wood. Thanks, WSJ.
JAMES MELLON, 8 hours ago Jim's wife: Well it is holier than other wood. (Sorry, couldn't help myself ..)
PETER FOLEY, 53 minutes ago Yes, demo farm building lumber is common from farmstead clearances...
It is general an actual 1/8 larger in width and depth, if pre 1955 more or less and much harder to nail if not rewetted.
Quality work might require the drilling of pilot holes for fasteners to avo id spitting.
In general, even IF FREE, the lumber costs MORE in labor, and its use adds expense....
For example, old barn boards ACTUALLY can give you tetanus...formerly one o f the leading causes of death in the USA, and give off a Barn odor, when re -wetted/ or just dampened.
And of course, most painted pieces have LEAD on and in them......
Imagine a crazy fetish of using old 19th century wrought iron for new work, You'd by sent to the shrinks for a tune-up.
A surprising large percentage of New old growth wood in the Midwest to East ends up as cordwood for fireplaces and liner board newsprint....
It is myth that No new old growth wood is available, the market won't pay a fair price, so the forest owners don't sell.
Mark Davis, 1 hour ago Beautiful bed, Zach Robbins, and wonderful that it has the history of James Madison's Montpelier estate. I visited there years ago, it was undergoin g renovation at the time to restore the floor plan as it was when Madison l ived there. Beautiful property and very interesting stories of life in th e Madison home.
DAVID ANDERSON, 4 hours ago This is what the WSJ allows its readers to comment on now. Wood. Barr tes timony off limits though.
JIM MCKEON, 5 hours ago At this point in American discourse why anyone would subject themselves to mention and photos in any type of periodical or newspaper is beyond me. Yo u expose yourself and family to barbs and hatred over flooring selections.
Mike Marshall, 5 hours ago We got a big load of two inch thick hundred year old southern yellow pine b oards when they tore down a cotton mill near hear about twenty years ago. Inside the nasty old boards are some pretty nice ones :-) ... here's a par tially completed built-in, the front of the slide-out is made from the old boards...
Our floor is also remilled old pine... old yellow pine can be real nice...
Ralph Cook, 5 hours ago In the Mid fifties my Brother-in law spotted a crew tearing down an old wat er tower in north Central Connecticut. About half of the tower wood was pil ed on the ground, the rest was gone. He offered to buy it and they accepted . He trucked the pile of wood home, most of it 2-3/4" thick 12'-14" wide an d 10'-16' long. It was black brown and green. After running it through a pl aner, a beautiful pink color emerged on the surfaces revealing the beauty o f old Redwood. How old as lumber? Maybe 120 years. I am guessing it was bro ught around South America on a sailing ship. I inherited much of it and made lamp posts and outdoor furniture with it.
Jeff Chmielewski, 5 hours ago This has been going on for a long time — people love the character and pay large premiums. More fascinating is that the premiums are so large that there are companies that will “age” new wood, via spec ialized UV lighting, kilns and machinery that creates scouring and other im perfections.
MARK KASSELIK, 7 hours ago I am an amateur furniture builder and I recently built a small dresser from reclaimed alder. Overall I was satisfied with the ultimate outcome, but I had to accept the fact that since the wood was not factory planed, the jo ints were not as tight as I was used to and I had to fight the urge to use wood filler. On the plus side, any minor mistakes I made I could always cl aim were intentional and added to the distressed appearance. Deep inside t hough I knew I screwed up and was reminded of the fact anytime I looked at the dresser. Floors are different, however. We have a kitchen flood made of reclaimed pine which is full of old nail holes, and it looks fantastic 20 years later.
George Eastes, 7 hours ago The house in which my wife's father was born in 1909 fell in on itself year s ago. The land is still in the family. My wife and her two sisters visit ed the site and brought home a pine two by four that was actually two by fo ur. We took the board to a man who makes ball point pens from wood and had about 40 pens made. The man said his shop smelled of pine oil for three d ays afterward.
K Ebert, 8 hours ago We did a floor with old wood. It was nice! But very boring. Kind like th e comments section now. Was more than half the reason for subscribing - po of - gone.
Judith Bieze, 8 hours ago My father-in-law used to take his wife and kids and drive his VW Variant HU NDREDS of miles to farms in the midwest in search of felled hardwood trees. He'd get it for a song, pile it on top of the VW, bring it home and get it milled at the local JC. He had everything imaginable. AND he taught me woo dworking. Best father-in-law ever. Ray Bieze
Terrence Watson, 8 hours ago I remember reading a few years ago that the extraordinary modern waterfront mansion that Bill Gates had built here on the shores of Lake Washington us ed reclaimed timbers as part of the structure. Old mills and factories buil t in the early 1900s were a great source of fine grained old grown Douglas fir timbers. Mom and Dad's 'stump farm' in the Nooksack River valley of northwestern Wa shington had 10 and 12 foot diameter cedar stumps that we spent years clear ing away with fire, dynamite, horse teams and finally a bulldozer.
Anthony Aaron, 8 hours ago I certainly hope that Ms. Heather Olsen is kind enough to get permission fr om the owner of any property where she goes dumpster diving -- and to sign all of the appropriate waivers against the owner's liability.
If she doesn't she's unnecessarily and unfairly putting the owner into a ho rrible liability trap … and, unless she's one of those one-in-a-mil lion folks, would be the first to sue if she got injured in the dumpster wi th all of the exposed nails.
As a 25+ year former carpenter, I can tell her with 100% certainty -- those nails -- especially the ones in the piece she's holding that are 2-4" on c enter will tear into your flesh and never give it a second thought.
Employees in that environment would need to be really well protected under workers compensation laws -- and for good reason.
Terrence Watson, 8 hours ago When I was growing up in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, when Dad wanted to build a new barn or shed, he would find an old building that someone wanted torn down and we would do it for the lumber and sometimes a few other odds and ends that had to go. So my very first job (at about age 8 or before) in the construction industry was pulling nails out of used lu mber, stacking the lumber, and straightening the nails so they could be reu sed. I honestly thought lumber was always some weathered shade of grey. I r emember the first time I saw a new house going up. The lumber was yellow be cause it was new. I couldn’t imagine someone so rich that they coul d use new lumber. I have spent the last 50 years in the construction indust ry, almost all of it in housing. Over the years I have become a bit of a bo ard hoarder. If I see a fine, vertical grained piece of Douglas fir or red or Alaska cedar, I stash it away for something worthy of its sacrifice.
Carlos Lumpuy, 8 hours ago Dade County Pine lumber, Pinus Elliottii Var-Densa, a subspecies of Longlea f Southern Yellow Pine, comes from log hearts of this Florida native tree m aking for excellent building material with extraordinary characteristics. Harvested throughout Florida, Southern Alabama and Georgia, it is a dense, strong lumber highly resistant to termites; well constructed, to hurricanes as well. Dade County Pine is prized for its beauty and durability with a figurative grain pattern. My 1939 Florida home has an exceptional solid attic of 3-inch thick Dade Co unty Pine rafters. So long as there's no water seepage, it remains an indefinite structure. Spending more on the restoration than the acquisition, we saved the old un- insurable house from demolition as it was going to be razed. Today, it still has original baths with thick tiles on plaster and lath wal ls 9-feet high, five exterior Jalousie doors, original casement windows and remains insured by Lloyds of London. —Carlos Lumpuy, Washington, D.C.
Rakesh Khanna, 8 hours ago If you are rich, you can afford to be whimsical.
Victoria Peckham, 8 hours ago My husband and I haven't necessarily used reclaimed wood, but we do go out of our way to buy real wood and that generally means older furniture or ant iques. Frankly good for those who have the time to make it a hobby.
Our (millennial) generation is generally tired of mass produced trash, from houses to furniture to food. A search for durability and connection can de scribe almost all of our characteristics, as we gain the wealth and the job security to seek them out. I feel this niche is just another expression of that drive.
Mike Shackleton, 9 hours ago Wood that I had known.
Stan Leaphart, 10 hours ago I have a stack of redwood timbers that came from a Northern Commercial Co. building in Circle City, Alaska. The wood was probably harvested in the 19 20's. It's a nasty job cleaning it up for use, but the old growth timbers are so superior to anything available today it is worth it. It's a pleasur e to work with and has been used in some pretty nice projects.
Jas Finger, 10 hours ago I applaud WSJ for this article as it is very informative on recycling a use ful natural product that has both aesthetic and sentimental value. I was surprised to learn of the high value that people place on used lumber to re purpose it in new construction. I used to scavenge wood when ever I found it during bulky waste pick-up week in my Town - mainly because I was horrified at the price of lumber.
Ray Cracauer, 11 hours ago Interesting but not surprising that there are more comments (with many more "likes") on the new commenting process than on the article itself.
David Barker, 13 hours ago My grandfather ran a commercial carpentry company. When he retired, he star ted making custom furniture out of old wood. He especially liked working wi th railroad ties. He passed away ten years ago, but a bookshelf he made tow ard the end of his life stands by my bed and reminds me of him each day.
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I think a block on any post containing dumpster and lumber should be mandatory here. Brian
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Wood has been reused for construction since time immemorial so why a yank feels a need to tell us in a UK newsgroup when some of our reused timber was already well into its second use before the US fucked off on its journey to becoming a world nuisance is bit strange.
Ships timbers were a common source of as naval development took place and ship design changed.
This example seems appropriate in the circumstances.
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On 11/04/2019 12:15, Marland wrote:

Apparently some timbers from the Mayflower were used to build a barn in Buckinghamshire. The barn used to be open to the public but no longer is.
Another Dave
Change nospam to techie

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Very true. I am currently sitting next to a 250 (or so) year old fireplace with an 11' long, arched, 14" x 10" oak lintel which is almost certainly reclaimed from a ship.

Roger Hayter

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Yes I was just suggesting how to block the idiot. Brian
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