Preparing Reclaimed Barnwood

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Forum topic by CoryS posted 02-01-2017 02:26 AM 691 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1527 days

02-01-2017 02:26 AM

Topic tags/keywords: barnwood barn reclaimed circle saw jointer planer milling

Hey all,

I’m currently in the process of making a TV stand for my sister and have been stumped. I’m making it out of some old reclaimed barnwood with nice circle saw marks.

My question is – what is the best way to mill the wood so that when I make the tops, bottoms, sides, etc. that everything is flat and smooth for the glue up? Normally with brand new lumber, I’d joint it and run it through the planer. However, I don’t want to take off the character of the reclaimed barnwood. I thought maybe I should only plane one side – the planed side being the bottom and the unplaned side being the top which would be seen.


-- Cory

4 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


13503 posts in 3265 days

#1 posted 02-01-2017 06:22 AM

There is a significant risk that if you plane only one side the board will bow but you might try it with one piece and see how it goes.

-- Rick M,

View CoryS's profile


5 posts in 1527 days

#2 posted 02-01-2017 02:45 PM

Thanks, Rick. I reached out to a guy on Instagram who only works with reclaimed wood. Here is the process he follow…

You’ll probably never get them completely flat, at least not if you want to keep the original patina in tact. But I follow a 4 step process.

1. Flatten the bottom on jointer
2. Place the flatten side against the fence and joint on edge of the board. At this point you should have one square edge at exactly 90°
3. Run each board through the planer (flat side down) once maybe twice. Keep in mind this is where you lose much of the character so don’t get carried away.
4. Trim the edge opposite to the jointed edge using a table saw.

The boards will come together nicely but you may still have various thickness issues to deal with. To fix this usually joint the bottoms repeatedly in order to shave off enough wood so the boards are relatively similar in thickness. Patience is key. Hope this helps.

-- Cory

View upinflames's profile


217 posts in 3047 days

#3 posted 02-01-2017 10:28 PM

The best you could do is cut the thinnest veneer from the used stuff and go from there. I hate working with it, glue won’t hold, screws won’t hold, most of it should be tossed into the fire.

View IowaBeauty's profile


11 posts in 1430 days

#4 posted 02-02-2017 02:15 AM

The best you could do is cut the thinnest veneer from the used stuff and go from there. I hate working with it, glue won t hold, screws won t hold, most of it should be tossed into the fire.

- upinflames

I mostly agree. Having spent much of my life in and around old barns, I never got the appeal. But some years back we tore down a 40 year or so old corral fence made from roughsawn white 5/4 and 4/4 oak boards in widths varying from 10” down to 4” nailed up to posts. They had a good 1/8” of weathered, black frass over a very solid, well preserved core of beautifully caramelized white oak. Of course the weathering followed various surface checks and so was in in places much deeper.

K Kept a bunch of these and have from time to time cleaned the up by first brushing and then jointing them down to where the weathered cracks and pits remained dark, but the bulk of the board was the caramelized oak color. (Hell on knives, but I sharpen my own, so what the heck …) Beautiful stuff for frames – intense character, but with real wood feel. Doesn’t feel like country kitsch, but the old fence is still there.

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