Oldies but goodies Published on March 3, 2017

Per the architect’s request, we used reclaimed timbers, stained, for this private library.

We always know where each reclaimed timber originated. (See the green tags.)

Some clients want their frame cut out of reclaimed timbers.  We get this lumber from buildings that were deconstructed to salvage building materials.  Why do some people prefer these old-time timbers?

Wood from trees that were felled and sawn long ago is more stable than newly cut wood; any shrinkage or movement caused by drying out over time has already occurred. So in terms of the look of the timber, the “checks” or cracks that you see are probably all that you will see. In addition, the old wood grain is denser than you can find in new wood at any price. And many people appreciate the patina of aged wood.

Also, when we build large houses with long spans requiring big timbers, reusing old ones saves lots of new trees from being felled. We’re always pleased to conserve natural resources.

But it’s also about the romance of using wood that comes with a story. A reclaimed timber’s history might include a ride down a churning river in Idaho as part of a log drive. (The Clearwater Log Drive of 1971 was the last recorded white-water log drive in the United States.) Or the timber might have served for decades in an Alabama cotton mill that employed a whole town. Or perhaps it supported a barn for several generations of a family farm.  Clients who use reclaimed timbers incorporate such history into a new home or barn or business that that will serve many generations into the future – the stories to come.

The Clearwater Log Drive operated between 1928 and 1971. Photo courtesy of the Forest History Society Collection.


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