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reclaimed lumber stability4/4
Is reclaimed lumber really harder, less likely to twist or warp than new lumber or is this just advertising hype to sell a unique product? Has anyone ever put reclaimed material through any kind of documented test? Why wouldn't this material work equally as well or better for products that require durable wood like tool handles or martial arts weapons?
I think such generalized claims are fairly meaningless, because the term "reclaimed" is so unspecific. It doesn't tell you anything about how old the wood is, where it came from, what it was used for, under what stresses or in what environment. It doesn't tell you how it's been stored since it was salvaged, either. It can have desirable qualities, but any broad claim that reclaimed wood is necessarily better simply because it's reclaimed is silly.
I've done quite a bit of work with reclaimed barn wood- mostly oak and chestnut. I have found the main differences to be purely aesthetic. Now, the grain is most certainly tighter seeing as many of these old buildings were built of virgin timber. But I've definitely had pieces twist on me in the shop. And working it with hand tools it never seemed to me to be harder. I've never tested it in any way. Nor do I have any experience using it as a tool handle. A lot of what you'll find has nail holes and surface checks to be aware of.
I was referring to reclaimed heartpine but I've seen other similiar claims for reclaimed oak and other material. I have machined flooring from old barn beams ect.. The best I remember it was very dirty and hard on the tooling.
The word "reclaimed" is just another word for "salvage",which is another word for "recycled" which is another word for "used" which sometimes is a polite word for "Junk".
Reclaimed wood could be 20 or 200 years old. Apart from the tight grain of virgin old growth wood and width of the boards. machining is of little or no difference.
It certainly can be but not necessarily. I get a lot of reclaimed old growth fir, pine and cedar. The stuff from around here is 'rocky mountain dry' and often under 4%. If it has been properly stored after being 'reclaimed' and stays in this dry climate I've found much of it to be extrememly stable. In fact, I'm often amazed how straight it is for it's age. If the wood has knots it's more likely to have internal stresses that make it move once ripped etc. Also, depending on the application it's used for can affect it's stability. For the most part, the reclaimed wood that I use is more stable, better grade and tighter grain than new. I have been 'spoiled' by these aspects and got used to the other disadvantages such as dirt, nails, crap etc. The look and the fact that it's 'recycled' is something that can't be matched.
I work for a company that sells reclaimed lumber. The company overseas the entire operation from taking down old structures to the custom precision milling into flooring. The first requirement for us is at least 100 years old. I can tell you that you will not find any new timber as hard or dense. Once installed and properly cared for the floor it will out last your grandchildren. In fact we have an impressive list of historically correct places that we were asked to provide the wood for including four presidential places. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss further. Richard at Mountain Lumber Co. firstname.lastname@example.org
Folks interested in reclaimed lumber might want to check out the Building Materials Reuse Association at BMRA.org. The goal of BMRA is to "facilitate the salvage and reuse of building materials."