RobMaine

Old barn wood questions

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Hey Everyone!
A couple of years ago I bought a small farmhouse - circa 1840 - in Maine. A buddy came up and while he was exploring the barn he said there could be serious money in them there boards!

I know there's a lot of reclaimed wood for sale and the prices are all over the place (most selling unfinished/raw word for about $7-8 bd ft. - but most of that that I've seen is only 4-8" wide) pretty sure this is oak - not sure what subspecies it is. The upper floor of the barn had two layers - many are around 12" wide, 1" thick and various lengths but almost all 8'+ with quite a few in the 16' range. The top of the top layer of wood is caked in about 100 years of dust and crud.

There's a lot of wood up there! 

Just wondering what you wood folks think of it - is it worth selling and just replacing the floors, that haven't been used in 140 years, with some sheets of plywood? Is it best to rip it all out and try to sell it in one shot? 

I'm just not sure how to proceed - or the best way to proceed - and hoping you'all might have some solid suggestions?!

Below is a picture of an 8" piece I cut from a loose piece that was in the rafters. I cleaned it up a bit and sanded a small section.

Thanks for any help!
Rob

pwg1n3u.jpg

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pwg1owk.jpg

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I would check with local hardwood dealers in your area, see if they sell the stuff, if so maybe they would buy it off you.  If they don't sell it, they might be able to give you some insight to its worth.  something like this is going to have real variences in price based on what part of the country you live in.  If you end up selling it yourself, you'll probably looking at craigslist to do so.

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I'm no expert at identifying species from samples like that, but it looks waaaaay different from any oak I've seen. If you can take a close-up shot of finely sanded end grain, @phinds or one of the others might give you a positive ID.

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Thank you both - I'll try to get some better pics. I know it's not pine...and it's fairly heavy and very dense. I took down another piece, from the actually flooring in the 2nd floor of the barn - 17' long, that was fun! lol - and I'm going to clean it up a bit and see if I can get some pics of that too.

So - I should take that piece I have and sand the end down? That won't make it harder to identify? Like I said, I have tons of the stuff so I'm game - just want to make sure I'm doing it right!

 

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Yea, you want to sand the end grain to at least 150 grit maybe 180 then take as cost as you can picture but still have it in good clear focus.

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That board doesn't look like oak to me but it's hard to tell.

The fastest method is smell. When cutting the wood there is a very obvious difference between them. Good clean end grain pictures are the most accurate.

As far as value it all depends on if you can find the right buyer. Also how clean you can get the boards would be a big factor as well. If they are caked in dirt and full of nails not many people will want to buy.

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I'd like to see pictures of the house, and barn. It might be the wood is worth more in those structures, than sold as reclaimed wood.  The board looks like some type of softwood to me.  Some of it is really dense, and heavy, but I know nothing of what grows there.

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The grain erosion on the surface looks very much like softwood, as Tom mentioned. Western red cedar takes that appearance after a couple years of exposure. At that lattitude, perhaps it could be white or yellow cedar. The extremely tight grain of those old trees will make it denser and harder than most of the same species wood from today might seem.

Does the external siding appear to be the same type wood?

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I’m seeing barnwood ads on here now and some are ridiculously expensive. As others have said, location, location, location. I wanted to build a bed for a friend who requested barn wood . I priced it here in Houston and it sells by the linear foot. The friend finally found some in Louisiana, almost for the taking. 

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I suspect it's not worth as much as you might think.   Sure if you look at retail prices it might be high... but there's a whole lot of steps to go through before you get to retail.   I wouldn't do anything with it unless you're looking at tearing the entire barn down.

 

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On 8/18/2019 at 5:23 PM, Chet said:

Yea, you want to sand the end grain to at least 150 grit maybe 180 then take as cost as you can picture but still have it in good clear focus.

I seem to recall that @phinds said he sands the end grain up to 600 grit to get those micro-photographs.

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On 8/20/2019 at 2:03 PM, drzaius said:

I seem to recall that @phinds said he sands the end grain up to 600 grit to get those micro-photographs.

Actually, I go to 1200 for the pics for my site but for ID 400 is usually enough and depending on the wood you can sometimes get reliable ID at 220 or so. For example, to tell if something is ring porous oak 220 is probably more than enough. Live oak can take a bit more.

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