Barnwood - first time and probably my last

Melinapex

Mark
User
My neighbor had an old barn on a family property. It has a lot of sentimental value to him, and he asked me to make a table out of it...... couldn't say no...... but is accustomed to working with flat, square stock...and this ain't.....
So there is a lot of bug eaten stock here and after getting it all the same thickness I have 7/8's left for the top. Here is the underside of the top....

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I scrubbed out all the dust from the bugs...

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This is the show side and I plan on sanding it down until the loose stuff is gone...
I am thinking of trying to glue up the panels with biscuits to help align, but there are spots where there is just not much for the biscuit to hold on to. Should I fill that first? I was thinking maybe just epoxy the undersides to fill all the bug trails and voids..... all the videos online seem to have solid wood, not this kind of stuff - which I would probably burn.... but then, am not very sentimental.....
Anyone have a finishing method they like?
Thanks for any advice...
 

gamiller3rd

Pappy
Senior User
I use a torch to burn this red oak table top then came up with a stain. The wood had been stacked under a lean to for many years. I would caution you to make sure all the bugs and larva etc are exterminated.
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Billm0066

Bill
User
What if you ripped into strips and laminated them so you can make a thicker top? Not sure if they would like the look but that wood doesn’t look the greatest. Burning it then staining like the one posted above would be cool.
 

Mark Johnson

Mark
Corporate Member
I built one like that several years ago. The family planned to use it as a dining table and I was afraid of all the voids capturing food and causing big problem. My solution was to fill all that with epoxy tinted black. Then I put poly on top of that. It worked out ok, but I also determined never to do that again!
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Roy G

Roy
Senior User
Mark has the right approach. You need to fill those bug holes with some epoxy to give the wood some strength. You could try to mix some epoxy with sanding dust to see if the final appearance is okay. Or tint it with black or brown dye.

Roy G
 

Melinapex

Mark
User
What if you ripped into strips and laminated them so you can make a thicker top? Not sure if they would like the look but that wood doesn’t look the greatest. Burning it then staining like the one posted above would be cool.
Would but there's only enough wood for the one layer... it's going to look skinny to my eye and I have discussed it with him..... but the heart wants what the heart wants.......
 

kelLOGg

Bob
Senior User
Mark,
I have a load of wood in my kiln now and in 2 -3 weeks it will be going through a sterilization cycle (raising the core temp to 133 deg F) and will be glad to add your barn wood to the mix to kill bugs - gratis. I'm very close to parts of Apex.
 

gmakra

George
Senior User
I have wirked with bsrn wood alot and here is my advice on the subject matter. KISS keep it simple and you knoe the rest.
Barn wood is selected for its look. So work with that look. You wouldnt psint latex paint on a Rembrandt would you?
Provincial or natural stain mimics the color well.you can epoxy the top if you like its easy and really brings out the wood.
If your too thin you can always put the barn wood on plywood.
Then wrap the edge with some 2×4 barn wood stock.
 

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
Would but there's only enough wood for the one layer... it's going to look skinny to my eye and I have discussed it with him..... but the heart wants what the heart wants.......
You could glue a strip to the underside of the table top all around the edge to give it the illusion of thickness? but perhaps more work than you are willing to put in at this time?

Also, you SHULD do something to ensure you have eliminated the inhabitants of the wood! IT woul dbe bad to bring powder post beetles or some other nasty into their house with this project!
 

Melinapex

Mark
User
You could glue a strip to the underside of the table top all around the edge to give it the illusion of thickness? but perhaps more work than you are willing to put in at this time?

Also, you SHULD do something to ensure you have eliminated the inhabitants of the wood! IT woul dbe bad to bring powder post beetles or some other nasty into their house with this project!
Yes I agree and will take up Bob on his offer... as for gluing additional wood to this he doesn't have a lot of this and I have pulled the best of it for this project...
 

petebucy4638

New User
Pete
Mark,
I have a load of wood in my kiln now and in 2 -3 weeks it will be going through a sterilization cycle (raising the core temp to 133 deg F) and will be glad to add your barn wood to the mix to kill bugs - gratis. I'm very close to parts of Apex.
Most people don't sterilize the wood and can end up with all sorts of problems. I had clients who wanted to use wood from an old house or barn in new construction. I always sent the wood off to a local mill to be put in a kiln to make certain that we were no introducing termites to the new home. My experience with salvaged lumber, from a barn or other structure is that you have to be very careful to locate old nails and other fasteners and to be reasonably certain that the wood was not exposed to toxic chemicals. Overall, the best salvaged lumber that I have seen came from higher up in the structure, preferably hardwood, and larger timbers are usually the best preserved.
 

Dee2

Gene
Corporate Member
I bought a turning block of mesquite when I visited AZ a couple of years ago. Anticipating it had borers in it I nuked it in the microwave for a few minutes via a heat/cool regimen. During turning, as you guessed, the worm was alive and left additional DNA behind in the bowl.
 

ManitouCA

Allan
User
Hi all, An online search lead me to this forum and then I noticed this recent barnwood thread. I work in a high end custom cabinet shop in northern Michigan and one of our kind of unique specialties is making barnwood kitchens and furniture. We’ve built quite a few kitchens and typically buy the barnwood for the given job from a reputable supplier that specializes in this type of material. We also maintain a stash of heart pine that’s reclaimed from timber structures using this incredibly dense pine. We use the heart pine on counters, tables and furniture type stuff.
Barnwood kitchens require a hefty up charge over our more typical custom cabinetry as it is very labor intensive work. Customers obviously come to us to build these jobs because they like the look of the rustic elegance, including the variety of holes, imperfections and nails which are quite often very old cut nails. We stabilize the wood with a variety of wood stabilizers including epoxy, CA and wood hardeners. We grind out the unstable sections of wood with die grinders using burrs and scotchbrite abrasives and sanders. We flame treat edges and flat areas that required thickness sanding that affected the BW patina. We rarely use stains and only when we may have to match something with material,that wasn’t used originally. We build the cabinets using simple shaker style, stile and rail construction either in face frames or as overlay doors drawers and FE panels. The last kitchen we built was using all roof boards from a most likely vary large barn. It was full of nails from layers of roofing and the customer asked us to leave as many nails as were stable enough to not fall out during construction. We have an old 20” Delta planer with lots of sets of knives that we use to thickness the barnwood and follow that carefully using our 42” hard roller thicknessing wide belt sander. We do not run any of this lumber through out 26” Baker helical head planer or our helical head Oliver jointer, we may sometimes joint some stuff if we’re sure there are no nails in a section needing jointing, but usually using the edge sander for that. The stile and rails are built very simply using one of our Unisaws and old worn or somewhat damaged blades that we set aside for these jobs. We laugh about how we have to suit up and use shields to protect from the shrapnel in building these jobs. Think flack jackets LOL!

It’s kind of crazy work but yields very unique and interesting interior designs. I’ll post a few photos later to show some of the product and processes. Let me know if you have any questions about this barnwood work we do.
 

Roy G

Roy
Senior User
Interesting pieces you have made. I find it different from down here in NC in that you have customers who actively want nail holes and other defects. I have a pine beam that has 11 growth lines per inch and found it was unusable because it had like 8 nails in one edge. One company I approached said they only use new wood and the other said I was welcome to donate the beam for their projects. Too bad you are in Michigan.

Roy G
 

ManitouCA

Allan
User
Thanks Roy! To each his own on the barnwood. It’s interesting work to build these but I personally wouldn’t want to live with it as my main kitchen. On something like your referring to, we would remove all those nails before using it. Sometimes you have to carefully cut wood like this to expose the metal figuring you’re going to be glueing it up after to get your desired dimensions. We’d use poly glue or epoxy for this wood. Is it a heart pine beam? Which grows in your region of the country. It sounds like it is with that tight growth pattern and most likely a boxed heart beam, correct?

Here’s a heart pine island top we made last year for a high end remodel in an exclusive neighbor hood at the tip of the Leelanau peninsula. We built all the cabinetry in this house and they wanted a kind of rustic looking pine top, so we milled the top out of heart pine (longleaf pine) beams. In this case we remove all the metal by hook or crook we do run this through our Baker planer. It finished out around 1 5/16” thick and the ends and skirts are attached like a bread board end.
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Dorm

New User
Dorm
Looks like you have lots of suggestions here. I know personally what a pain working with undimensioned material is like. My style favors the look of unfinished surfaces but it sure makes it tough to get straight lines, no cracks, even surfaces, tight mitres, etc. Maybe you said the best piece of advice ... never agree to do this again :)

Ciao ... Dorm
 

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