Rough Cut Oak 4x4" x10 - previously used as dunnage ????

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Forum topic by C_PLUS_Woodworker posted 04-20-2012 02:13 AM 12760 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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601 posts in 2904 days

04-20-2012 02:13 AM

Topic tags/keywords: oak

I can pick these up for just a couple of bucks each.

They were used previously to stack Railroad rails

They are untreated

Can I clean these up and use the oak?????


3 replies so far

View Edziu's profile


151 posts in 3048 days

#1 posted 04-20-2012 02:41 AM


But, since you are getting a deal on the wood, buy yourself a moisture meter, because these were probably never dried to 6-8% like you’d expect furniture grade lumber to be.

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2261 days

#2 posted 04-20-2012 04:09 AM

Rip one open and find out how it looks. You can also get an idea of how wet is it as well. Rip… not crosscut.

Usually I don’t see much moisture when I’m prepping my logs into lumber and squaring up the ends. As soon as I make that first rip though, the moisture begins to pool on the surface after a few minutes.

The wood should be great though if they were properly protected (or at least somewhat protected) from ground and water damage.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 2674 days

#3 posted 04-20-2012 11:49 PM

I have a different take, and that is I would recommend against it, for these reasons.

First, dunnage typically is placed in the dirt and therefore the surface will have dirt, rocks, etc embedded in it. Definitely not good for planer and jointer knives.

Second, you will have creosote soaked into them from where they were in contact with the RR ties. Creosots is not a nice chemical (think carcinogenic).

Third, they are probably not kiln dried, and being in proximity to the ground most likely have some unwanted critters living inside them.

Fourth, most dunnage is around 3” x 4”, and 4” oak requires several years to air dry – more if it’s sitting on the ground.

Fifth – a lot of oak dunnage is cut from the center of the log, and is comprised primarily of juvenile wood, which tends to check and move a lot.

If you’re going to spend a few hundred hours building a nice piece of furniture, it would be a real disappointment if it had problems down the road due to poor quality wood.

Just my 2 cents.


-- Scott, North Carolina,

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