Is reclaiming some furniture wood worth it?

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Forum topic by Drewbaby27 posted 01-03-2015 04:10 AM 1467 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 1694 days

01-03-2015 04:10 AM

Couldn’t find if anything like this has been posted, so if it has my apologies. All the key words I searched for came up with way too many results…

So my question and a clarifier: Is reclaiming wood from furniture like sofas, chairs, etc worth it? I figure it would cost about $10 extra in my garbage bill if i were to de-upholster one of those free couches I see on craigslist, bag and toss the filler, material, etc. and then have a frame to break down and use.

I’ve never broken down one before, so I figured I’d ask before I venture into something I’ll regret

14 replies so far

View Buckethead's profile


3195 posts in 2320 days

#1 posted 01-03-2015 04:16 AM

Hardwood, yes. Upholstered furniture, no.

I have benefitted from a few lucky finds, but more often than not a stop yields little. Most furniture is particle board, MDF, or a softwood with veneers. Upholstered furniture yields little lumber worth the effort, in my opinion.

Straight, long, wide planks are best. (Using these terms in a relative sense)

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1326 posts in 2386 days

#2 posted 01-03-2015 04:30 AM

Not typically worth it. I only salvage good solid hardwood.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


8710 posts in 3028 days

#3 posted 01-03-2015 05:01 AM

Case in point, maple circular dining table on Craigslit:

Cut to size, sand like crazy, and shellac for the finish.

As mentioned above only go for the hardwood and no upholstered
furniture and you’ll be fine.

View joey502's profile


548 posts in 1969 days

#4 posted 01-03-2015 05:17 AM

In some cases reclaiming works, in the case you stated it does not. The small amount of wood in that type of furniture is not worth the work. Furniture that is covered in fabrics will also have a staples, nails etc. If you hit that metal with a you tools the blades/ knives are most likely trashed.

View thor2015's profile


46 posts in 1693 days

#5 posted 01-03-2015 05:25 AM

I would be very careful when handling used upholstered furniture, especially when you don’t know the previous owners. Often times there are bed bugs, mold and other infestations that you might unknowingly bring home with you. Not worth the “savings” IMHO. If you do decide to cut up one of these pieces, I would recommend gloves and a respirator at the very least.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3682 days

#6 posted 01-03-2015 05:43 AM

Stick to pallets! :-)

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View upinflames's profile


217 posts in 2613 days

#7 posted 01-03-2015 12:09 PM

Table tops, dresser tops, any solid hardwood top really. Best place for pallets is the burn pile, and NOT the fireplace, over thirty years in the trucking industry, you really don’t want that crap in or around the house.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1304 posts in 2165 days

#8 posted 01-03-2015 12:34 PM

Chairs and dressers can make for nice wood to recycle. I have found that especially the Windsor type of chairs give nice dry beech or maple. Dressers can give flat panels, often quite wide, and often from dense growth pine. Benches is another fine source.

No matter how you go about it reclaiming wood it can be quite a bit of work. It is mostly worth the hassle when the wood is a speicie or quality that you can not buy- or is unreasonably expensive. I have found teak, mahogany, palisander, old pine, beech, oak and elm of superb quality this way.

Good luck – and let us know what you find!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2458 days

#9 posted 01-03-2015 02:51 PM

Old dressers and pianos … YES.

LazyBoy chairs … NO !

Dont ask me how I know this! :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View EPJartisan's profile


1122 posts in 3577 days

#10 posted 01-03-2015 04:29 PM

As a fellow dumpster diver and found wood collector, I would not have a studio today if not for used wood. And I agree with what everyone says. You gotta determine how much work vs how much you get out of it. Sometimes you should do it anyway to see how it all goes together. I have found most couch frames are not very good quality wood or cheap frame fabrications. Even after cutting back the staple holes.. not really worth it.

If i take an upholstered piece… I want to use all of it, even though I know most internal frames are sucky wood. The fabric has to be cleaner (and washable) and useable for rags, box liners, or other crafts. The inside stuffing and cushion has to be clean or its out.. but I use it for crafts and packing material. I love having leather around.. so yeah i take leather couches. I have reused feet as painting blocks and in new furniture repairs.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


7448 posts in 2650 days

#11 posted 01-03-2015 05:13 PM

Like EP points out, found wood is a good thing for a lot of stuff. Old couches or anything that is covered by some type of fabric is usually not worth it for the wood.. it’s hidden, so they usually use some pretty ugly stuff that nobody will see anyway. But other parts can be re-purposed. Pallets are also a good source of hardwood, but can be a chore to take apart due to the nails used. A pallet buster can help, but it’s still a chore.. the upside is that you can get some pretty nice hardwoods from them. Another good source is constructions sites, particularly in upscale developments where they use more expensive wood for trim and mouldings, and you can find lots of 2x, ply and laminated material. I was driving around a couple of weeks ago and ran across one construction site that was loaded with wood in the dumpster. Wound up with a couple hundred dollars worth of 2x material (2×4’s and 2×6’s mostly – nothing shorter than 6 feet), including about twenty 16 footers that were apparently used as bracing, and tossed once their job was done. I am always amazed at what some construction sites will throw away simply because they don’t want to haul it to the next site.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Drewbaby27's profile


6 posts in 1694 days

#12 posted 01-03-2015 08:48 PM

I had a feeling this was going to be the answer, but again – just wanted to make sure. Thanks for all those who responded.

I keep my eye out for free wood, but the problem with the PacNW is it’s ALWAYS raining, and noone ever posts pictures of ‘free wood’ stored indoors, under a tarp, or otherwise in good, dry condition. It’s always a picture of old fencing under a pile of leaves or something, so i figured venturing into a new direction was worth consideration.

Of note for interesting places to reclaim wood – I’ve noticed several free ads where people are giving away pianos. My guess is that the size / weight is the killer, but I can always grab my nephew and boom – free stuff.

Anyone ever reclaim wood this way?

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2458 days

#13 posted 01-04-2015 12:16 AM

I have taken apart 2 old “upright” pianos… got a bunch of nice panels and some good useful smaller pieces too.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View splatman's profile


586 posts in 1850 days

#14 posted 01-04-2015 02:55 AM

I second the downsides of upholstered furniture as project fodder. Sometimes, you might find a stick or 2 that will be worth keeping; the rest worth it only if you (Really!) need firewood. Don’t bring it inside until after you dismantle it, to avoid buggy issues. The fabric can be cut up into rags for dirty things like changing the oil in your truck, or wiping up your pet’s “deposits”. If you find a sofa in a dumpster, strip it where it sits, so you can leave the chaff behind. Recliners will yield a bunch of steel (the reclining mechanism) that you could strip down for parts, materials, or scrap.
I know this, because I’ve been down this road. You’re better off throwing the whole couch/recliner/upholstered whatever in the fire and stand back. If any steel remains, send it to the scrap yard for a few cents that you can put toward some nice wood.
I would like to take on a few pianos, the problem is, unlike in Loony Toon Land, they won’t fit in my car.

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