Wooden furniture remains extremely popular despite the great costs that are associated with it. Besides the monetary expense, wooden furniture comes at a great price to our planet. Not only are forests getting smaller at the expense of countless species, but the shipping of lumber across the world’s oceans has an impact on the environment too. Using reclaimed wood to build furniture for your home can make a difference to the environment and help you save money too.
What is reclaimed wood and where can you find it?
Reclaimed wood is essentially recycled wood; discarded items of furniture or even buildings that land up on landfills or are bought before they get there. Although it needs to be treated, it comes at a fraction of the price of new wood as there are no shipping costs involved and farmers or other individuals are normally very happy to get rid of what they consider to be “rubbish”. If you live near farming communities you could probably get a lot of unwanted wood by asking farmers. Second hand stores might also sell pieces that have little worth in their current state but can be re- used effectively. Coal mines and wine barrels are also great sources.
How to prepare reclaimed lumber
- It’s a good idea to kiln dry reclaimed lumber. This is a process where wood is heated to ensure that it is not too moist to build with (otherwise your furniture might shrink!) , and that bugs are killed.
- Use a metal detector to find any hidden nails in the wood. If a metal detector is a little outside your price range, you can use a magnet. Nails might be stuck in places that are not obvious to the eye and can be very damaging to your tools.
- Use protective gloves and a mask when you are cleaning dirt and dust off the wood, there might be harmful bacteria or bugs on it.
- From here you can sand, treat and build as you would with any other wood.
Ideas for your designs
- Sometimes you will not be able to find enough of a single kind of wood or texture to make a whole piece of furniture. Don’t let this stop you from making what you want. The differences in style and texture can be manipulated to really suit the piece that you are making. It is exactly the interesting visual contrasts that can be created with reclaimed wood that makes it such a trend at the moment.
- Table tops and book cases are amongst the most popular items to make, probably also the most useful. There are plenty of other items you can make though. Picture frames, lamp shades, recipe book or e-reader stands, and even clocks made from reclaimed wood can make gorgeous attributions to your living space.
- You can also buy items of furniture made form reclaimed wood if you are not particularly inclined to make your own.
- Using reclaimed beams for flooring is also a wonderful way to bring wood into your home. It has the added benefit of having been exposed to varying levels of humidity for far longer than newly cut wood. This means that the wood is more stable and unlikely to warp which allows it to be used in homes with radiant heating systems. Reclaimed wood is also likely to be more stable and of better quality as there was far less air pollution around when the trees it was cut from were still growing.
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Louisa Theart is a freelance musician and writer. She is keenly interested in just about everything and enjoys sharing her thoughts about it.