Tips for selecting and working with barnwood?

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Forum topic by LiveEdge posted 06-05-2014 03:52 PM 1099 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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478 posts in 1042 days

06-05-2014 03:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: barnwood desk question furniture

I’m going to embark (haha) on building a desk and I’d like to use barnwood along with a maple slab top. I’ve drawn up some plans patterened after this desk:

There is a site selling barnwood about 90 minutes from here and I’m going to make an expedition up. (

What should I be looking out for?

If the barnwood is just stacked outside, is that going to mean I will need to let it dry for months?
Does the color as I see it dictate the resulting color? I don’t necessarily want a gray patina, but I also want to preserve saw markings, etc. (I like the color of the desk shown)
how does one work with wood that is not going to be perfectly square while minimally destroying the surface? Do you have to make sure you have square, even edges where things are going to be joined together? Do you just try to make as few cuts as possible?

I’m excited to do this, but also a little nervous about what I’m trying to bite off.

3 replies so far

View LiveEdge's profile


478 posts in 1042 days

#1 posted 06-05-2014 10:01 PM

LJ is silent? I have yet to experience this.

Here is some info from the dealer:

Most of our lumber is fir, however we also have some beautifully weathered mixed hardwoods from the east cost as well as some redwood and cedar.
Most of our lumber is dry. Some of it was stored stickered on the yard over the winter, but is dry for working with at this point. A large selection of lumber just came down off the structure and hasn’t seen any rain since.
We do not metal detect the lumber that we sell in raw form.

Any red flags?

View chrisstef's profile


15472 posts in 2428 days

#2 posted 06-06-2014 12:23 AM

Sounds pretty legit to me. As far as what to look for, imo, is boards with no nails. Old cut nails suck to remove. Couple hundred to remove and id be miserable. Grey on the outside probably wont be grey on the onside. If you can a block or jack plane with you it would come in handy. A cordless circ saw or handsaw wouldnt hurt either. A quick cut off at the end of the board should give you sone clue of what type youre buying and a quick planing of the face grain will help too.

I like to start with a belt sander and some 60 grit to knock any dirt off and shine up any missed nail heads before i head to the planer.

Good luck.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View gfadvm's profile


14929 posts in 2112 days

#3 posted 06-06-2014 01:01 AM

I use a lot of reclaimed old growth Doug Fir. I plane/sand it then wipe with MinWax Gunstock stain. It has almost exactly the color of the table in your pic. I know a lot of folks hate stain, but if you don’t use stain all of your cut sufaces will be a totally different color from the uncut surfaces. The Gunstock seems to even everything out and works great on Doug Fir.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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