Reclaimed Wood: Giving New Life to Old Materials

Reclaimed Wood: Giving New Life to Old Materials

Breathing Life into Forgotten Structures

I’ve always had a soft spot for the aged and forgotten. There’s just something about transforming a decaying relic into something vibrant and new that really speaks to my heart. And when it comes to the world of timber building and woodworking, this sentiment rings truer than ever.

Allow me to introduce you to Ryan Trombley, the owner of Front Range Timber in Broomfield, Colorado. Ryan is on a mission to breathe new life into old, dilapidated structures – from Mennonite barns to abandoned sheds – by salvaging their beautiful, well-aged wood. As he explains, his goal is to “transform beautiful forgotten structures into custom furnishings” – giving these materials a second chance to shine.

It’s a passion that was born out of necessity. A few years back, Ryan was looking to boost his income when a friend told him about an old barn in Wisconsin that was scheduled for demolition. Without hesitation, Ryan hitched up a trailer, headed out, and dismantled as much of the barn as he could, bringing the truckload of reclaimed wood back to Colorado. And from that moment on, his business took off.

The Allure of Reclaimed Wood

But Ryan’s not the only one captivated by the charm of reclaimed wood. Over at Timber Building, we’ve seen a growing demand for these beautifully aged materials. And it’s not just our company – the trend has been steadily gaining momentum across the industry.

As Daniel Louis, the owner of Denver-based furniture boutique Revampt, explains, reclaimed wood has become increasingly fashionable in recent years. “You can take something that everyone is throwing in the trash and make something everyone wants,” he says.

But the appeal of these reclaimed materials goes deeper than just being “on-trend.” As Mandy Sancic, co-owner of Olde Wood manufacturing in Canton, Ohio, eloquently puts it, reclaimed wood has a certain “history and character” that you simply can’t replicate with brand-new lumber.

Just imagine running your hands over the weathered surface of a centuries-old barn beam, or catching a whiff of tobacco as you drill into a door salvaged from a vintage tobacco barn. These materials carry the stories of the past, imbuing each piece with a unique personality that mass-produced wood simply can’t match.

The Art of Reclamation

Of course, transforming these reclaimed materials into beautiful, functional pieces is no easy feat. As James Hixson, the owner of Denver’s Black Hound Design, explains, the process usually involves an extensive amount of work.

First, the wood planks must be carefully de-nailed and cleaned, often requiring pressure washing and kiln drying to remove any lingering metal particles or imperfections. Only then can the milling and crafting process begin, with James and his team of skilled carpenters meticulously shaping each piece into a custom-designed furniture item.

It’s a labor-intensive undertaking, but the results are truly remarkable. From the nearly 9-foot-long mahogany farmhouse-style dining table that once served as a boxcar train floor, to the custom pieces crafted from fire-damaged wood and sustainably harvested blue-stain pine, the versatility of reclaimed materials is truly astounding.

And as Thomas Porter, the owner of Arizona’s largest barn-wood company Porter Barn Wood, notes, these reclaimed materials have the power to make a home feel truly “personal and special.” Each piece carries a story, a history that can’t be replicated with brand-new lumber.

The Eco-Friendly Advantage

But the allure of reclaimed wood extends beyond just its aesthetic appeal. As the Sancics discovered when building their 7,000-square-foot dream home in Ohio, these materials offer a much more eco-friendly option compared to traditional construction.

By repurposing existing structures instead of tearing them down and starting from scratch, we can significantly reduce the environmental impact of our building projects. And with the growing focus on sustainability and green living, this aspect of reclaimed wood has become increasingly appealing to homeowners, architects, and interior designers alike.

In fact, Mandy Sancic notes that she and her husband were “reclaiming wood before reclaimed wood was cool,” incorporating salvaged materials like slate tiles and Douglas fir beams into their dream home long before it became a mainstream trend.

The Challenges of Reclamation

Of course, the journey of reclaiming wood isn’t always an easy one. As I learned from Whole-Fed Homestead’s experience with their old barn, finding the right people to handle the salvage and deconstruction process can be a real challenge.

Getting companies to even answer the phone or return calls can be a frustrating ordeal, and not every business has the equipment or expertise to properly dismantle and extract the materials. And even once you’ve found the right team, the actual physical labor of taking down a barn or shed is no small feat.

But for those who are willing to put in the effort, the rewards can be truly remarkable. As the Whole-Fed Homestead team discovered, watching their beloved old barn come crashing down was a heartbreaking experience – but by salvaging the beautiful, hand-hewn beams and weathered siding, they were able to give new life to those materials instead of letting them rot in a heap.

A Lasting Legacy

In the end, that’s really what the reclaimed wood movement is all about: preserving the past, while creating a brighter future. By giving these forgotten materials a second chance, we’re not just breathing new life into our homes and furniture – we’re honoring the rich history and craftsmanship that went into their creation.

And as more and more people discover the allure of reclaimed wood, I have no doubt that this trend will continue to grow and evolve. Whether it’s Ryan Trombley scouring the Midwest for abandoned barns, or the team at Timber Building incorporating these beautiful materials into their custom timber frame structures, the passion for preserving the past is alive and well.

So if you’re looking to add a touch of authentic, one-of-a-kind charm to your home or your next building project, I highly encourage you to explore the world of reclaimed wood. Who knows – you might just stumble upon the perfect piece to give new life to an old, forgotten structure. After all, as the saying goes, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” – and in the case of reclaimed wood, that treasure is truly priceless.


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