Currently rehabing a house (about 70 yrs old), and I just tore out the
cellar steps. The boards are oak and 2x8 (actual size) and about 40" long.
They are rough sawn. Over the years I have thrown many boards such as these
away, but since I am now starting to get into woodworking I am wondering if
these boards are worth saving?
You throw away clear (in stairs that old they were almost always clear)
oak 2x8s? Why?
The stuff is dry, stable and you'll still have plenty of size after you
clean it up. There are also usually few nails, and in known locations,
with stair treads - you won't be risking your blades and bits.
In the past I have thrown boards such as these away because they are hard to
work with (akward size (true 2x's), hard to cut, hard to get a nail/screw
Yes they are clear, just two nails at each end. However, I do not have
access to a planer or jointer, though I do plan on buying these tools at
some point, just not sure when. So in the meantime I would just have to
store them. I was also worried about them the being hard on blades since
they are so old?
That's not a major concern, IMO. Lots of folks work with wood that is
tough on blades. Like charlie b said, evaluate the boards for grain and
decide if they're worth your time. If not, perhaps there's a high
school shop or local WW'rs club that might be interested?
Talking about art is like dancing about architecture - Frank Zappa
Well, if aged oak is too tough, there's always basswood. ;)
Blades are resharpenable consumables. They're not supposed to last
forever. Don't go out of your way to abuse them, but don't fear wood.
You said the wood was rough sawn, but didn't mention if there's a
finish on them. If it's unfinished oak, and you know where the nails
were, there's little risk and a big upside.
A typical set of stairs has ~12 steps to the basement, maybe more - in
other words you have at least 50 board feet of oak. Go price that
against the price of a blade.
Against a couple of blade sharpenings, perhaps more, given that there has
been 70 years of dirt ground into the porous oak by passing feet.
Then there are the 70 cycles that a wood already infamous for its brittle
and splintery nature has used to become more so.
You can get by without a planer or jointer. I found an old
oil-stained, dirt infested, paint-spilled shelf in my garage. The
board didn't look like pine so I took the belt sander to it.
Now it is a beautiful cherry hall table in my house.
Hardwood that thick, even 40" long is worth at least checking out.
Sand or plane the undersides (the top will have ground in dirt, sand
and other stuff that'll dull the hell out of anything sharp) and dampen
with alcohol to see what the grain looks like. If any of them are
sawn definitely keep them. You can find someone with a drum sander
to clean up the grungy face if the other side looks promising.
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