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Forum topic by Eric posted 06-22-2012 03:00 PM 1464 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Eric's profile


221 posts in 2506 days

06-22-2012 03:00 PM

While out garage saling this morning. I can across a family that’s moving out west. They have stacks of old barn boards setting in the barn. We’re talking 12×12 beams with tenons, 6/4×8 x 12 or maybe even 16. All of these of course rough sawn. I was very interested in purchasing some, but I’m concerned about working this lumber. I’m only a garage shop woodworker. I don’t have any inductrial machines. I have a Jet 6” jointer a DeWalt 12” planer and a Jet 12” bandsaw. Am I going to abuse my tools by finishing out 5-10 of those huge rough sawn planks? I am assuming the lumber is old, old pine.

-- Eric

9 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4928 posts in 3955 days

#1 posted 06-22-2012 03:18 PM

Once ya get the timbers sawn to a reasonable size you should be able to work with ‘em. No way will you be able to resaw those monsters on your (or my 14”) BS. Planing shouldn’t be a prob if ya use infeed and outfeed support.
Watch out for metal.
Sounds like a great excuse to get a nice #5 jack plane, a #7 jointer, and a #4 smoother.
Think of it as joining a health club. You too can have arms like Popeye.


View Tennessee's profile


2872 posts in 2509 days

#2 posted 06-22-2012 03:19 PM

No. I made furniture from barn oak for years with nothing more than a low-end table saw and a lunchbox rigid planer. Once you determine that the wood is nail-free, you can do all kinds of things.
As a secondary item, I would buy as much as possible and have it planked up by a local mill, but I think you will find that most of them will not take on used lumber due to the nail problem. You will regret passing in this…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Tennessee's profile


2872 posts in 2509 days

#3 posted 06-22-2012 03:21 PM

That came out wrong…the mills will pass on planking it due to nails, BUT THAT BEING SAID, you will regret passing on this. You may never get another chance at wood of this quality and age.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View helluvawreck's profile


31030 posts in 2861 days

#4 posted 06-22-2012 03:24 PM

Be sure to get a metal detector so that you can find all of the nails and what not.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Belle City Woodworking's profile

Belle City Woodworking

355 posts in 4011 days

#5 posted 06-22-2012 03:25 PM

I would get as many as you can handle, cut them down to usable size, and make stuff!

Nice find!


-- Formerly known as John's Woodshop - and NO not the one from Ohio!

View Eric's profile


221 posts in 2506 days

#6 posted 06-22-2012 05:40 PM

I went back. The planks are 2”x9”x15’ (actual dims). They seem really flimsey. I know that with a board that long there is bound to be some flex, but these had quite a bit. Also the end grain edge was checked badly. Of course that can be cut off but there was some serious splitering and cracking along the long edge as well. Sure, there’s going to be a lot of waste to bring these pieces square… but really!!! I passed on the planks and bought a few 2×4x8 (actual dims). I can see these easily being planed and jointed together to make a nice workbench top! I can also handle the 4” width in my bandsaw to re-saw if I choose.

So tell me, do the planks sound typical for barn board? Flimsey with significant checking and deep cracking on the long edge? I can’t see them being resawn and its going to take a lot of jointing and planing to get these planks workable.

-- Eric

View Eric's profile


221 posts in 2506 days

#7 posted 06-22-2012 07:42 PM

Whoa! This stuff is oak! Not a bad deal for 50 cents for each 2×4x8. As I began pulling nails, some of these suckers are so rusted they snap off at the wood. Any advice on digging out the nails?

-- Eric

View HerbC's profile


1754 posts in 2854 days

#8 posted 06-22-2012 08:23 PM

Drive them through the board with a punch?

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2631 days

#9 posted 06-22-2012 10:11 PM

I have used a bunch of oak barn beams, and none of the nails would come out..they are just too rusted. The best way I found to get the nails out is use a hole saw about 3/4” or the smallest you can get. Take the center drill bit out, or find one that you can take the drill bit out. Then you can use it as a plug cutter and drill out the nails. It can be hard to start sometimes (has a tendency to wander), but you can drill a hole through some scrap and use it to start the hole. Then just pop the plugs out until the nail is removed. Works better than anything I have tried, although it does leave a hole in the wood.

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