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Salvaging old barn wood

Find new life for an old barn by salvaging the wood. Reclaimed wood is perfect for many uses and lets you preserve a part of history.

Radio interview source: Kenny Goodwin, Owner, Wisconsin Barn Board & Beam

 
Keeping salvaged wood from old barns has its advantages. Sometimes you can use the boards to create something unique and new, but there are safety precautions to take.
 
Kenny Goodwin is the owner of a Wisconsin company that specializes in salvaging wood from old barns. He says the market is exploding because people want the wood for projects such as furniture and flooring. But before you start ripping out the boards, Goodwin says you have to carefully examine the situation.
 
"When I'm assessing a barn, I look at three things," he says. "First, I look at the safety of it. Is the thing ready to fall over, do I need some special equipment to hold it up while I reclaim the lumber? The species of the wood is very important, and then the clean-up. How much clean-up are you going to have at the end?"
 
In general, the value is determined by the species of the wood. For example, pine isn't as valuable as oak or chestnut. It also depends on what parts of the barn are able to be salvaged.
 
"Oak beams sell really well, red oak and white oak," says Goodwin. "The siding boards sell real well to people who like to do crafts, interior decorating, things like that. They like the rough back side compared to a smooth back side of siding. The old rough-sawn siding it a lot better on the back side. The 4x4s, 4x6s in your walls, a lot of that is really good wood. It can be used for siding, and for furniture, and remodels."
 
Trim off the ends to get rid of any rot and unevenness. Check for metal and pull all the nails. Insects may be hiding in the wood so you might want to fumigate it, especially if you plan to ship it out of state. Don't pressure-wash or clean the wood, because the original color and patina gives it charm.
 

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