Historic Wood?

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Forum topic by Nick_R posted 09-28-2013 07:40 PM 1034 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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154 posts in 2321 days

09-28-2013 07:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wood demo wood refurbished wood

I have some good friends that bring me lumber or wood whenever they come across something they think is either nice or has a back story. I usually take the lumber and the story at face value and then I will make them something out of a portion of the wood to thank them for the effort and encourage them to keep looking..

Recently, a friend was working in an old historic courthouse that was undergoing renovation. Many of the original floor and ceiling beams are being replaced and he brought me a pine board 2 1/8 thick, 10” wide and 5’ long. The courthouse is just over 100 years old and the assumption is these boards are close to the same age.

I started working with it yesterday and as expected it is very hard, but it was kinda oily.. Not dripping but you could feel in on your fingers. It also had a kind of pine/something else smell. The wood is beautifully grained and very yellow in color on the inside, aged and gray on the outside..

So…. this long story is to try and figure out if this wood could be dangerous.. in the way that maybe it was soaked in some kind of termite treatment or something to protect it back in the day.. Not sure what the standards were back then or if I should be concerned at all. I used a N90 respirator mask once the smell hit me, but still is this type of wood problematic for woodworkers? besides the nails of course.

Any opinion or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

-- Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

6 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


17713 posts in 3178 days

#1 posted 09-28-2013 08:08 PM

Ive been working in the demolition field for 10 years and have yet to come across any framing lumber that has been deemed hazardous by any third party environmental companys. Besides the obvious lead based paints the only other hazard you would encounter could be creosote. That was typically used on factory floors to supress sparks and on railroad ties. Id suspect that if it was framing lumber your 95% in the clear. The respirator is good protection just in case.

Are there any tell tale signs of the lumber being impregnated with anything? Discoloration, offensive odors, etc … ?

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

View Nick_R's profile


154 posts in 2321 days

#2 posted 09-28-2013 10:54 PM

Chrisstef… Thanks for the response. It does have that wet/oil like feel and a smell that I can’t place.

-- Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

View LakeLover's profile


283 posts in 2111 days

#3 posted 09-29-2013 11:49 AM


If it is old pine, that is the resin in the wood. It is probably air dried not kiln dried and the resins have not been cooked to set.

If it can from a court house, might be some BS in the wood:)

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2848 days

#4 posted 09-29-2013 12:42 PM

lakelover, I was going to say,
it’s probably over saturated with political correctness with a spot or two of blue dress stain

but I was afraid they’d call me a sap.

View Nick_R's profile


154 posts in 2321 days

#5 posted 09-29-2013 01:09 PM

That explains the smell! thanks guys, I didn’t think of that.. I guessed I should make spitoons and chamber pots out of this wood.

-- Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

View Avg_Joe's profile


66 posts in 1911 days

#6 posted 10-01-2013 05:42 PM

I know nothing about 100 year old courthouse wood… but here are my 2 cents anyway. :) First, be safe and careful…. and don’t breath in any harmful chemicals!!! And second, the above comments are quite amusing and have added a bit of joy to my day!! (Spittoons and Chamber Pots…. just silly! ) :)

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