Reclaimed Old Growth Heart Pine Meets the Planer...

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Blog entry by CedarFreakCarl posted 11-23-2007 03:49 AM 4884 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I thought I’d show ya’ll some of the heart pine I’ve got that I’ve been trying to build a coffee table with. While I really like this old heart pine, it’s a real bear to work with. The rewards are great, but the path getting there is rough. First of all, this stuff is real hard. Supposedly it can be within 5% of the hardness of red oak. I don’t know about that, but it’s pretty dang hard. Another drawback is the inconsistency. It can be really easy to work in some spots and splintery and brittle in others. Also, this has a bunch of old rusty “cut nails” still in it, and consequently since I was too cheap to buy a metal detector, I ended up paying the price by trashing 3 sets of planer blades and will still probably end up getting a metal detector. Funny how that works.
Old Boards 1
Here’s what I started with. As you can see, this is some pretty nasty stuff. We tore down the old store in 1969 and it was dirty then. It’s been sitting in a pile in our barn ever since, gather more dust and filth.
Old Boards 2
Here’s a 1×12 about 16 feet long.
Old Boards 3
Here are some of the nails I’ve been dealing with in 2×6. (This one was 28 feet long! Kind of hard to move around in the shop.)
Old Boards 4
Old Boards 5
The nails were tough to get out.
Coffee Table 1
I used the 1×12 for the table top. While I’m going for the distressed look, the edges of the board were a little too destressed so I took the splintery edges off and edge glued another more stable piece in it’s place. I ended up putting bread boards of a sort on this thing as it wasn’t going to be very stable if I didn’t.
Coffee Table 2
Coffee Table 3
Coffee Table 4
Here’s what I came up with for the breadboard tongue. Since I’m doweling them with 3/8” dowels, I ran the long part out to 1 1/4” and the shorter part is 3/4”.
Coffee Table 5
I guess this one really shows why the bread board was necessary.
Coffee Table 8
Here’s the dowel slot in the end to allow for seasonal changes in moisture.
Coffee Table 9
Here’s one of the bread boards before mortising. Notice how tight the grain is on this old growth stuff. This is only 2 1/4” wide.
Coffee Table 7
This is a through mortise and tenon. I actually did this one by hand. After making a few boo boos, I purchased a mortiser. I like doing hand work, but I like saving time too.
Coffee Table 6
Here’s a closeup of one of the nail holes that I left.

I’ll probably get this thing finished in a couple of weeks and will post the results then. Thanks!

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

12 comments so far

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4092 days

#1 posted 11-23-2007 04:13 AM

Excellent blog – everything is thoroughly explained and lots of photos. The wood is beautiful and what a great use of old lumber. I am anxious to see your finished project. I think if I were you, I’d invest in that metal detector sooner, rather than later :-)).

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4126 days

#2 posted 11-23-2007 05:06 AM

This is a pretty neat project. Looking forward to the final shots.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4187 days

#3 posted 11-23-2007 02:20 PM

it’s like a celebration of the tree’s life. A tribute.
Nicely “blogged”

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4032 days

#4 posted 11-23-2007 02:31 PM

I work with this stuff too. A metal detector is a must. Also there are slide bar nail pullers to be found on ebay from time to time that are invaluable to have. And a once over with a wire brush doesnt hurt either at getting all the grit off before machining.
Great looking stuff you got there!

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4080 days

#5 posted 11-23-2007 05:00 PM

Yep, metal detector is definitely in the works! This project was a prelude to redoing my kitchen cabinets which I hope will be out of the same stuff. Thanks for the pointers Miles. I need all the help I can get! Hope you guys had a happy Thanksgiving!

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4116 days

#6 posted 11-23-2007 05:20 PM

Great post. I did the same thing with my reclaimed fir. No metal detector. I now have a little line on all of my jointed wood from the nail I surfaced. Still need to replace the knives.

I bought the little wizard detector. It helps alot. I wil detect ones that I can’t see on the surface.

Are you going to save those nails?

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4333 days

#7 posted 11-23-2007 06:47 PM

Very nice work, pictures and descriptions, keep us posted on the progress. Thanks.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4017 days

#8 posted 11-23-2007 07:56 PM

I found a nice pile of old maple flooring that I’m doing the same thing to. Bought a Little Wizard…It works great! Even detected a paper staple that had lodged into a crack.

That’s some real old growth stuff you got there. It’s gonna make for an interesting table and cabinets. Keep posting!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4326 days

#9 posted 11-23-2007 08:04 PM

It looks like you’ve got a great looking project going there.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4080 days

#10 posted 11-24-2007 03:22 PM

Gizmo, I hadn’t planned on saving any of the nails, the memories are too painful…lol. Gizme and Dadoo, about how deep did the Little Wizard work for you? I know Norm used one on one of his shows and said it worked great. I thought about getting the larger model as I’ve got some 10” x 12” beams I’m planning on resawing and my thinking is that it will provide a larger coverage area. I’ll have to see what Santa comes up with…..

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4017 days

#11 posted 11-24-2007 05:59 PM

If you’re planning on doin’ a lot of resawing then go for the Lumber Wizard III. I’ve read that it can detect thru a 10-12” thick beam. Go to for more info. I see it costs around $100.00.

I’m using the “Little Wizard II” (costs $20.00) and have had it detect my wedding band thru a 2×6 pine. Like I said earlier, it found a small paper staple that had lodged into a crack. My planer blades have been grateful, so far!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2831 days

#12 posted 11-08-2010 03:10 AM

that wood has gotta be as hard as those nails….Beautiful tho. take it ez on yer equipment fer sure

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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