Finding Barn Wood For Your Reclaimed Wood Table
Having A Table Built Or Wanting To Build Your Own?
The purpose of this article is to give the reader an idea of where barn wood comes from that is used in reclaimed wood tables. I wrote it in a way that it will either help you get a better understanding of where the material comes from that will be used in your table---or---if you are building your own, how to find the material you need.
I Like Barn Wood....
The process of building a reclaimed wood table actually begins with a barn or any old structure. That's not to say that a pallet or some other structure built in the past 50 years wouldn't be viable, but I prefer the barn material.
In order to use reclaimed wood, you have to be able to reclaim the wood from some type of structure or buy the material from a company like ours who takes the structures down. We typically work with barn wood, but there are many old warehouses, old homes, sheds and other structures that have the type of wood you are looking for.
Falling Barns Down Everywhere...
If you’re driving through the country and paying attention to the variety of barns that are out there, you will see that there are a number of barns that are falling into disrepair.
While that’s sad to see, the reality is that many of these structures have not been maintained mainly because of the way we do things today. With new equipment and methods, it is no longer necessary to have a 2 story hay loft.
We never really like having to take down a barn because of all the hard work and integrity that went into building that barn. But, we take the approach of saving the wood, and honoring those Craftsman who worked with this wood a century ago. So finding the reclaimed material is where the process of building a table begins.
What Types Of Barn Wood Can Be Salvaged?
When we’re working with a barn, we’re looking to salvage all of the material that we can out of the barn. Often I get the question "...what are the different kinds of wood that can be salvaged from a barn....?" So I came up with a list of what I look for. This is more of a comprehensive list, but it will show you what to look for and what you will need for your table.
Typically used in the upper structure of the barn. The majority of these structures are built using mortise and tenon construction. Beams are usually square, 7"x7", 8"x8" and sometimes even larger.
These beams are usually either hand hewn or rough sawn. Rough sawn will likely be a little more square than the hand hewn. But these beams have a lot of uses when re-sawn; tables, any type of furniture, legs for furniture, flooring or just about anything you can think of building.
You will have to find a Sawyer to cut them up for you, but it is well worth it.
Barn siding accent walls have become very popular. Brown, Red, Gray, White and even some more unusual colors such as Blue or Yellow. The most popular is the gray toned siding.
The gray is from years of weathering and without paint the wood will oxidize to the gray color.
Brown is usually found on the inside of the siding but can also sometimes be the exterior color if a darker stain or paint was used.
If you want a newer look, you can also skip plane barn siding to make really cool ceiling material or wains coating type of material. While the color will be more of a natural wood color, you will still be able to see many of the character marks that only come from aged material such as barnwood siding.
You could also use the siding for flooring stock if you have a thicker material to work with, usually at least 3/4" thick.
Barn floors are typically all wood. You can have many different levels such as hay lofts or the main first floor level. Typically we see the wood being either 2" thick tongue and groove or sometimes we even find layers of 1" boards laid on top of each other.
Hardwoods are usually used where heavy equipment was driven through while softer woods such as Pine are used in areas where the hay or grain might be stored.
These are the structures that hold up the floor of the first floor. These are most often hand hewn on 2 sides, top and bottom and left to the natural contour of the original log on the sides.
Sleeper beams are excellent for flooring or cutting material for furniture since there are no mortise or tenons like the beams above would have. They usually sit ontop of a main beam and are less likely to be loaded with nails.
These are the boards that run horizontal across the roof. This can be hardwood or even softer woods. They always seem to have amazing color on the inside. The only problem is that on the outside, there are literally thousands of little nails that were used to attach the original cedar shakes.
The cedar shakes come off really easy, but the nails usually stay behind. That doesn't mean that the boards are unusable, it just means you have to use them pretty much as is. There are ways to process it though and you would want to place the naily side to the inside.
Sometimes we are able to remove the majority of the nails and use the face for accent wall material which gives the wall an amazing look.
Most of the trusses in a barn are usually 2"x6" or 2"x8" material. There are many different ways that barns were built, but if there are trusses, they have the potential to be really good table material.
The downside of trusses is that the face that has the roofing boards nailed to it are usually loaded with nails. Sometimes those come out easy and sometimes not so much....especially if square nails were used.
If you are only building one table, it may be well worth taking the time to pull them out, especially if you get the boards for free.
How Much Barn Wood Do You Need For A Table?
I like a thick top on a table, nothing less than 1 1/2" and 2" is what I use most often. In order to have material to build a table, we need to have a minimum of 2-inch stock, which is 2 inches thick by a variety of widths.
There are a couple of ways that we can actually get that. Sometimes the floor trusses might be made out of 2x12s or 2x10s. Or you may need to get the boards you need by sawing up the beams. Most of the beams are 8x8 inches, 8x10 inches, 7x7 inches, 6x6 inches.
In order to get the wood out of the beams, that beam would have to be sawn into 2-inch chunks.
For materials in a typical table, let's say 7' long, 42" wide and 30" high, you will need the following;
For the top:
2"x 6-12"x7.5' boards for the top. If you are looking for a 42" top, you should get enough for 48". Just add up the widths of the boards you are looking at to equal 48" That way you have some room to get the sides straightened and get the grain you want. Also get the boards longer so you have room to work with.
For the skirting:
2"x4"x 7.5' & 2"x4" x 4'. You will need these for the skirting that goes around the bottom of the table.
For the legs:
I like to use material larger than 4"x4" for the legs, but that is just a preference. 5"x5" work really well or even 6"x6" look good on a 7' table. With a 30" height to the top of the table, you will need roughly 28" of length.
But here again, get 36" so you have some room to work. I would also recommend getting 2- 6' pieces vs 1 - 12' piece so you get some variance in the legs and they won't all be the same.
Still Confused On Where To Get Your Barn Wood?
No problem. Did you know we actually make reclaimed wood table kits. Click here to learn more about reclaimed wood table kits.
We can build one for you. We build custom tables to your specifications. We can ship the tables completley built anywhere in the nation. Click here to learn more about the process of commissioning a table or just click the button below and we will be in touch.
I started my first business when I was 14 years old and have been working in my own businesses or family businesses ever since then. My parents placed a high value on education and instilled a strong work ethic. We fixed and built our own stuff including homes while I was growing up. I love to write and author both this blog and a blog on energy efficient lighting. I have 4 kids and live in Michigan. You can contact me below.