Our reclaimed lumber is sourced locally from Western North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee and West Virginia. All of the structures slated for reclamation have been deemed a liability and unsafe by the landowner. After a thorough inspection of the structure, and calculating the usable board feet of the material, a deal is made and the dismantling process begins. Depending on the season and the conditions, our team of reclamation experts will often camp on-site, dismantling the structure board by board, carefully removing each iron nail one at a time, taking extra care not to damage the lumber in the process. The lumber is then kiln dried to stabilize the moisture content to between six to eight percent while also exterminating any unwanted insects that might otherwise destroy the wood over time. Once received, the lumber is then sorted by length and condition and carefully racked and placed in inventory.
Blue Ridge Heritage Barn Wood
As barns that stood proudly on family land for generations become unsafe structurally, The Old Wood Co. carefully restores their charm and integrity. It is with great care and pride that, board by board, we unearth the history of these treasured iconic structures. It’s like unwrapping a present, removing the layers of dust and dirt to reveal the beauty of an oldgrowth piece of lumber. Once exposed, the lumber will showcase all of it’s history. Nail holes represent the original construction purpose of the material, worm holes, highlight the vulnerability of the wood to the outside elements; tight knots, showcase the continued growth and strength of the tree; growth rings tell the age and seasonal pattern of the tree’s growth; unique grain patterns explain how the board was originally milled, mostly for the best yield of material—these are the traits that make working with reclaimed lumber so intriguing and interesting
The American chestnut provided timber unrivaled in quality in the early 1900s. Straight-grained and strong, easy to work and rot resistant, chestnut lumber was used for everything from structural barn beams to furniture.
That time is gone. It is estimated that one out of four trees in Appalachian forests was an American chestnut prior to the arrival of the deadly chestnut blight, a fungal disease that destroys the bark tissues. Though it’s believed the fungus was introduced in the late 1800s, carried over on the boughs of blight-resistant Asian chestnut trees, the first recorded incident was in 1904 at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. The blight moved outward at a remarkable pace, killing an estimated four billion trees. Today, all that is believed to remain of this once grand species is fewer than 100 large trees with girths of more than 24 inches.
But thanks to developments in genetics and plant pathology, the chestnut can reign again. Established in 1983 by a group of scientists, The American Chestnut Foundation is leading the way in restoring the tree to its native range within the woodlands of the eastern United States using a scientific research and breeding program known as backcrossing. The technique cross-pollinates the American chestnut with the blight-resistant Chinese chestnut. The first generation hybrids are then bred back with American trees, diluting the foreign genes and bringing the native ones to the fore. The result is a tree that looks like an American chestnut, but is blight resistant.
The Old Wood Co. is a proud member of The American Chestnut Foundation.
Native to eastern North America, and found from Maine to Georgia and as far west as Minnesota and Texas, white oak is a long-lasting tree. Specimens are known to have lived for more than 600 years. Typically reaching heights of 80 to 100 feet, with diameters of 36 to 48 inches, white oak can develop a massive crown with its lower branches stretching far out above the ground.
Slow growing and relatively rot resistant, white oak was a signature wood used in Gustav Stickley’s mission-style furniture during the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts Movement. White oaks have cellular structures called tyloses, which prevent water from passing. This leak-proof characteristic is why the wood is often used for making wine and whiskey barrels. Other uses for the hardwood include interior construction and ship building; the most notable vessel was the USS Constitution, also known as “Old Iron Sides,” built in 1794.
A native of North America, the red oak grows in slightly acidic soil from southeastern Canada to Alabama and as far west as Oklahoma. In forests, the tree grows straight and tall, upward of 115 feet with a trunk diameter up to three feet. Open-grown trees do not get as tall, but can develop a stouter trunk up to 6 feet in diameter.
The red oak’s stout branches grow at right angles to the stem, forming a narrow round-topped head. It grows rapidly and is tolerant of many soils and varied situations, although it prefers well-drained stream borders. Hailed as one of the most important oaks for timber production in North America, the wood is highly valued for its interior uses. Lacking the tyloses indicative of white oak, the red oak’s wood grain is porous.
The walnut tree is one of the most versatile hardwoods on the planet. In addition to yielding exceptionally tasty nuts, its timber is treasured by carpenters and sculptors alike. Walnut trees are hard to miss. A mature tree can tower up to 100 feet with a leaf canopy stretching more than 40 feet wide, though most average between 60 and 70 feet. The tree is also very durable, with some living 200 years. There are nearly two dozen types of walnut trees in the world; though most are native to the United States. Walnut trees are predominantly grown in North America, with California being the largest purveyor of the trees. It takes 10 growing seasons for most trees to produce mature fruit
Wood Finishes and Characteristics
Due to the nature of our reclaimed lumber, knots, nail and worm holes, multiple gain patterns, finish variances (including those within a single piece or between two or more pieces) and other natural characteristics are to be expected and add character to the pieces. Due to the unique nature of our wood finishes, actual wood samples, website photos, and brochure photos will vary slightly from the actual finish that is received. Due to the live edge treatment on some designs, table depths may vary within one to two inches.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We are often asked about the reclaimed wood we use in the construction of our pieces. This section of frequently asked questions offers little- known facts and bits of interesting information, which should help clarify the process.
1. Where does most of the lumber come from?
The majority of the barn wood we use comes from deteriorating wooden structures, sometimes found just around the corner from our woodshop in Asheville, or a few hours drive to neighboring Tennessee.
2. How do you source the barns you dismantle?
Oftentimes, multigenerational landowners take the initial step to clear their property of dilapidated structures by contacting us. These are buildings that have been used as livestock barns, dairy barns, and the like. After an initial inspection to determine the quality and condition of the lumber, we negotiate an agreement with the landowner, and reclamation soon follows.
3. How old are the barns you take down?
We find that most of these structures were built sometime in the early 1900s; some even date back the to the late 1800s. That means the lumber milled to build these barns came from old-growth oak trees, which were most likely planted around the turn of the 19th century.
4. Any interesting historical facts of any barns you’ve taken down?
Yes, some were built during the pre and post Civil War era. Other barns have been on family farms for generations.
5. What kind of interesting artifacts do you find?
Oftentimes we find vintage farm and woodworking tools, and, of course, the occasional family of bats.
6. How long does it take to dismantle a barn?
Some barns can be dismantled in a few days depending on the size and scope of the project, while others take upward of several weeks to complete. In milder seasons, the team of reclamation experts will elect to camp out on the property, using scrap wood to make fire for cooking and warmth.
7. Is this a dangerous profession?
Like most construction professions, safety is the number one concern in deconstruction. It is always a challenge to not only dismantle the barn safely, but to do so in a way that protects the material from being damaged.
8. Any scary moments while dismantling?
When dealing with structures that have been sitting untouched or neglected for as long as these buildings have, there will always be moments when one must make quick decisions. We plan forthe worst and hope for the best. However, we take the utmost care and caution when approaching each important decision. After years of deconstruction under our belts, we have found that the dismantling of each barn must be approached on a project-by-project basis, taking into consideration the condition of the support members and roof as well as the foundation.
9. What is your favorite type of wood and why?
In our line of work, finding American Chestnut is always very exciting. It could be compared to a miner panning for hours, days, or weeks and finally striking gold. While many landowners claim to have American Chestnut, it is often not the case. So to come across a barn built with that coveted species is always thrilling.
10. What do you do with all those nails?
All nails are removed from the boards prior to kiln drying. The nails have been used to adorn small projects, but most often, they are gathered for recycling and taken to the scrap metal yard for a small payoff.