Recycle, Reuse, Reduce!!!

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Blog entry by WoodGoddess posted 01-17-2013 01:36 PM 1196 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Wood recovery is in vogue for several reasons. Perhaps most importantly, the environment needs to keep its trees. For woodworkers and wood lovers, the potential for wood repurposing is an opportunity which abounds. It’s astonishing to find just how much usable wood is available for limitless wood project possibilities.

Wood Recycling Aplenty
From obsolete bowling alleys to big old barns, there is a vast horizon of wood waiting to be loved by those savvy enough to watch out for it. Woods which built yesteryear represent tomorrow to wood restorers.

Several wood species are indigenous to buildings spanning several historical eras. During the Industrial Revolution, long leaf pine formed stands spanning 140,000 square miles across the United States. As it was so abundant, long leaf pine was a primary component in factories and warehouses. In the early 1900s, American built millions of barns with chestnut. In fact, chestnut was a primary material for homes east of the Mississippi for three centuries in the United States. Often, landowners used whatever wood stood before them to build homes and barns. Beam sizes were determined not only by structural engineering, but by the ability to haul it into place by horse and buggy. Thus, wood reclamation enthusiasts find that a little research can help to locate valuable poplar, hickory, pine and other wood species without disturbing a single living tree.

Seasons of Wither
All wood contains an ever-fluctuating proportion of moisture content (MC). In fact, moisture is a part of every wood cell. Those cells absorb and emit moisture based on changes in the ambient relative humidity (RH) of the surrounding environment. When RH rises, wood swells as it absorbs moisture and when RH drops, wood shrinks as moisture is released from wood cells. This universal truth remains, in the wild and even after lumber has been kiln dried and processed. When subjected to environmental changes, wood acclimatizes to the new environmental conditions that surround it.

MC measurement is crucial when restoring reclaimed lumber. Reclaimed lumber is popular due to the history of the wood’s origins and the wood’s characteristics such as strength, stability, durability and unique appearance.

Many companies indicate that their reclaimed wood products are more stable than newly cut wood because the wood has been exposed to the natural seasonal changes in RH for a longer period of time and are therefore more stable, allowing them to be used as an example with radiant heating systems. Radiant heat, with its low temperatures and even distribution, affects reclaimed wood flooring the same way as newly manufactured wood flooring, so proper MC measurement is still required, but the impact is much less dramatic with reclaimed antique wood.

Restoration Anew
Moisture meters for wood are crucial to sustain wood. Once reclaimed wood has been restored, RH changes related to seasonal changes and climate changes may require periodic MC assessment. There is a wood moisture meter to suit all popular species and hobby-building purposes. Moisture meter for wood can even be used to determine when the wood can take another coat of finish.

Although MC is not a fixed variable, it is forever a part of wood. Spy a wood piece from bygone times, and delight in the modern wood moisture meter technology that helps hobbyists to renew them for the future.


2 comments so far

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2700 days

#1 posted 01-17-2013 02:12 PM

Excellent blog entry.

I thought (read somewhere on the web) that old growth trees had a tighter, straighter grain and that is why reclaimed wood is “more” stable than new growth. Anyone care to expand on that?

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View woodcox's profile


2038 posts in 2036 days

#2 posted 01-17-2013 05:08 PM

R R R +1 good entry… Always satisfying to find good materials from these methods for your projects. The unexpected things you find along the way can really add to the chracter and history of the piece. Might I remind a good metal detector for the surprises we may find hidden beneath.

I would also like to find more info on how the effect of, if any, pollution, climate change and UV exposure ect. has

had on the growth characteristics in trees harvested now and then.

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

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