Douglas Fir beams

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Forum topic by Belg1960 posted 08-26-2011 02:40 AM 1662 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1072 posts in 3089 days

08-26-2011 02:40 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hey guys, I have the opportunity to get some wood from a post and beam ceiling from a building build in 1930’s these things are massive but the tightest growth rings on lumber I have ever seen. They measure about 3”x14” I really want to take some but just dont have large equipment to machine it into manageable boards. Do you guys have any ideas what I could make with lumber this size? Thanks Pat

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

11 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


17423 posts in 3030 days

#1 posted 08-26-2011 02:46 AM

If they are good any dry you can do most of the work on a table saw. Cut both sides leaving about 1/8 to 1/4 left in the middle. Pry it apart with a screwdriver handplane the nub and youre good to go. Take em! Youll figure somethin out.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3074 days

#2 posted 08-26-2011 03:22 AM

I snagged some old beams a while back and am still waiting for the muse to make an appearance. These beams are from around 1890, so I figure there is no rush to figure it out. I’d certainly take my time with these treasures, rather than rushing into it and regretting my decision, since they’re not easily replaced at the lumber yard.

If they’re 3”-thick, I’d think about leaving them in there current form and ganging them together for a rustic tabletop maybe? 14”-wide would also be a good entry table top, or a sofa table top. Maybe do a mixed piece where you’ve got the rustic top with a clean, modern base underneath of some contrasting wood, such as walnut or mahogany?

I’ll be curious to see where your muse leads you on this one. It sounds like you’ll have numerous projects from these beams since you’ll have multiples, which will be nice.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View plantek's profile


312 posts in 2822 days

#3 posted 08-26-2011 02:59 PM

I would consider the table option.

-- If you want it and it's within reason... It's on it's way!

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3917 days

#4 posted 08-26-2011 03:06 PM

like some one said, cut half way through, flip the board over and cut through the other half………you should be good to go

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View helluvawreck's profile


31363 posts in 2890 days

#5 posted 08-26-2011 03:14 PM

We have a friend here in our town that is making furniture out of the old beams and flooring that came out of the old Goodyear plant that was torn down here. The plant had been here since the early 1900’s and he just uses regular shop equipment – table saws, band saws, etc.. I have not seen any of his furniture.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2982 days

#6 posted 08-26-2011 05:11 PM

As nice as it sounds I would recommend leaving it be until you have a specific use for it. You can always cut it to pieces later. You may even end up using or selling for use as beams to build another shop; new beams are spendy. Maybe spray them with a bug spray and/ or water repellant? Nice grab!

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Belg1960's profile


1072 posts in 3089 days

#7 posted 08-28-2011 05:27 PM

Guys, thanks so much for the replies. Well it seems like I have come out the other side of the Hurricane with very little damage just one gutter to fix.

I like the idea of a table but but don’t understand the reasoning behind cutting from the top and bottom, my 10” table saw will cut thru all the way. I would do it in two passes and get a cleaner cut, NO?? I would really like to make my son a coffee table but have something more funky and hip than a plain rectangular top with a rigid square leg base. Any pics with some ideas would be much appreciated.
As far as storing some of this wood could you tell me the best way to store it so it does not warp. It is nice and dry, but to I still sticker stack them? Also do I dress them and then store Or leave them in the original condition to store? Thanks Pat

PS any other ideas on things to make with them would be appreciated.

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3074 days

#8 posted 08-28-2011 05:33 PM

Try going to Google Images and typing in such phrases as:
-beam coffee table
-wood beam coffee table
-modern coffee table
-modern beam coffee table
-modern beam table
-wood beam furniture
-beam furniture
-beam table
-rustic beam table

That’s what I did after we snagged the beams I mentioned above. I’ve gotten a couple of ideas from doing that specifically for this wood, and countless other ideas as well for other pieces that I haven’t made, but have a rough design in my head and on scratch paper.

I am personally a big fan of Google Images. You have to do a bit of sifting/filtering, but it’s worth it, in my opinion.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4029 days

#9 posted 08-28-2011 05:38 PM

Make you a 2 1/4” thick custom front door out of them. Not too hard to find hardware for that thickness.

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

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 2700 days

#10 posted 08-28-2011 07:06 PM

To me, the real value in those beams is the width; old growth wide planks are difficult to find!

For not a lot of money, you can find someone local with a woodmizer or other band type sawmill and resaw them into an appropriate thickness for your projects. For a table top, you could have them sliced in half, yielding two planks that are 6/4×14”, netting a 5/4 table top from them.

Woodmizer maintains a list of their sawmill owners that you can check to see if anybody is local. You can also check on either Woodweb or The Forestry Forum.

For other projects, you could have them resawn into three 4/4 thick boards, 14” wide, and use them on future furniture projects.

By all means grab as many of them as you can, and store them indoors.

-- Scott, North Carolina,

View Belg1960's profile


1072 posts in 3089 days

#11 posted 09-04-2011 05:01 PM

I was wondering has anyone ever used one of these I thinking to try and carve a simulated live edge on my beams, Ive been doing some googling for inspiration and have come up with several ideas that I want to bring together once I talk to my son and see exactly what he wants for storage or open base. I’m going to make him a man’s coffee table for his dorm room.

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

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