Can barnwood go bad?

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Forum topic by romanweel posted 09-15-2016 07:12 PM 246 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 663 days

09-15-2016 07:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: reclaimed wood reclaimed barnwood rustic

Maybe this is a stupid question, but here goes.

I inherited an awkward, badly built corner TV stand (the gigantic type from the pre-flatscreen era) made of boards out of the 1911 barn on the property. They’re small boards with awkward angles cut in them, but I figured I could get a pair of humble nightstands out of them once I pulled them apart.

As I was taking the zillion wire nails out of them, I noticed there was a peculiar lack of heft to the boards. They weigh noticeably less than a new pine board of the same size (old-growth pine should feel ridiculously heavy for its size, this I know). They are also very happy to break in half along the grain. So… I have rotten boards here? Is this just not actually 100+ year old wood? The patina is certainly beautiful, but I’m wondering now if I should just burn this stuff and build with material that isn’t so iffy-feeling.

2 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13569 posts in 2036 days

#1 posted 09-15-2016 07:25 PM

Roman, based on the pic above and your description, I’d say you sure do have authentic barnwood that is not rotten. It is weathered, however. Extremely weathered.

I’ve got boards just like those.

Barns of the board and battens style suffer that kind of erosion when there’s no maintenance. The wood was severely starved for a protective coat of paint (or ten) over the decades, so the wood between the actual growth rings has eroded on the outsides of the boards. That’s why they’re lighter and more fragile.

Can they be re-used? If you like the look and use them wisely, no reason they won’t work as ‘humble nightstand’ stock.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View ChefHDAN's profile


797 posts in 2267 days

#2 posted 09-15-2016 07:53 PM

I’ve used similar wood for different sized simple boxes for table accent pieces etc. Only other way I’ve seen it used is attached to a sheathing substrate for wall decor but not in a structural application.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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