Reclaimed Oak and Walnut Bench

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Project by J. Curtis Goforth posted 01-21-2011 05:24 AM 3526 views 5 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This bench was made for my wife from totally reclaimed lumber. It is 42” wide, 10 1/4” deep, and 19” high. The woods are spalted red oak and walnut. The finish is Boiled Linseed Oil and wax—no stain was used because I wanted to simply reveal the beauty of the wood that was there. The design is largely my own, though I drew inspiration from many projects posted here and elsewhere. My wife told me that she wanted something that was totally reclaimed, so not being able to bring in store bought materials limited my design as well. The stretcher is not really a through tenon. If I had more material to work with I would have made it a wedged through tenon, but alas I didn’t have the time or material this go around.

A friend had a very old barn that their insurance company forced them to demolish, but they allowed me the chance to go in and salvage what wood I wanted. I was shocked to find two workbenches made out of 8/4 red oak and the slab used as the seat for the bench lying on the ground beneath them! It was originally 12/4, but it was twisted and bowed. (I had to make a router sled and some shims to level one surface of it in order to plane it down.) I removed almost an inch of material to bring it into some semblance of square. I couldn’t believe how wonderful the wood was after going through the planer about a hundred times. (On a side note, the Porter Cable 12 1/2” planer that I got at Lowe’s for $200 is a great buy and it handled this 12/4 slab of red oak without too much of a problem.) I filled some of the nail holes and voids with epoxy, but I left many of the stains from the nails and some of the divots where structural support wasn’t an issue.

I love taking something old that was going to be demolished and giving it a new life, but it is so much harder to work with than “new” lumber. The spalted red oak was particularly troublesome to work with, having a tendency to tear out and break off in chunks. I still have about ten 8/4 spalted red oak boards that are about six feet in length. My wife wants a dining room table out of them. I am going to need a jointer first! Thanks for looking.

12 comments so far

View swirt's profile


7089 posts in 4304 days

#1 posted 01-21-2011 05:35 AM

A nice design looking design, and great work on reclaiming the wood.

-- Galootish log blog,

View RobH's profile


465 posts in 5382 days

#2 posted 01-21-2011 05:40 AM

Absolutely beautiful. I have some old barn wood that I am saving for special projects. There is nothing like wood with a story behind it. Keep up the good work. Enjoy the bench.

-- -- Rob Hix, King George, VA

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 4215 days

#3 posted 01-21-2011 05:56 AM

beautiful piece. There is a richness that comes from old reclaimed wood that you just can’t get out of “new” wood. Well done.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View B13's profile


463 posts in 4025 days

#4 posted 01-21-2011 07:55 AM

Bench turned out great! I like the contrast of wood. I was planing out some really old oak from a out building It was very hard to work with It was like It petrified!

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4329 days

#5 posted 01-21-2011 10:28 AM

Reclaimed Lumber… I love it. Keep building !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4365 days

#6 posted 01-21-2011 11:59 AM

Now That!! Is a beautiful piece of work!! Once again….Elegance in Simplicity.

Nice Job J.


-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4569 days

#7 posted 01-21-2011 12:20 PM

Your bench is beautiful! I have one for a coffee table, one in the bedroom as a dressing table, and I’m building one to put at the front door, under the coat rack. I hope it turns out to be as nice as yours.

I love reclaimed wood. There is a red oak log on my property that fell in a storm 2 years ago. I thought it had rotted to much to cut for lumber, but I checked yesterday and the sapwood about 2 inches deep is rotted and the heartwood (31”) is solid as the day the wind storm took it down. I’ll be making something from it as soon as it’s cut into lumber and dried. I guess about a year from now.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Todd Thomas 's profile

Todd Thomas

4969 posts in 4781 days

#8 posted 01-21-2011 02:33 PM

way to go….looks great…I love the look of reclaimed wood…I just made a mantel out of some old oak timbers…...hard as rock but looks great…well done

-- Todd, Oak Ridge, TN, Hello my name is Todd and I'm a Toolholic, I bought my last tool 10 days, no 4 days, oh heck I bought a tool on the way here! †

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 4635 days

#9 posted 01-21-2011 03:20 PM

I really like this bench. The simple, clean lines and traditional looking construction make it timeless. Nice job leting the wood’s natural beauty show.

View wb8nbs's profile


164 posts in 4025 days

#10 posted 01-21-2011 05:50 PM

Good looking project. You are lucky to find barn wood that was not checked badly, barns were usually built of green wood.

-- The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

View FumblesWithTools's profile


22 posts in 4025 days

#11 posted 01-22-2011 10:19 PM

That is lovely. Have you any “before” photos of the reclaimed lumber that you can share as well?

View papasteve's profile


30 posts in 4021 days

#12 posted 01-23-2011 03:34 AM

Nice bench! I am in the process of reclaiming some oak and hope to make something as nice as your bench.

-- Even if we don't know how, we can still try.

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