High Quality Furniture
This how-to will take you through the process to produce high-quality reclaimed furniture. This process will start from wood selection to final finishing.
There are many different species of reclaimed wood indigenous to the American landscape, and all have different qualities. Also, there are many different construction techniques that are time tested methods and styles. Often the choice of the style of furniture helps to dictate the type of wood used. Maple, Beech, and Walnut seem to be the most often used wood for Contemporary reclaimed furniture, while Oak, Poplar, and Cherry seem to follow more closely with the rustic style.
The process of kiln drying involves stacking lumber on 1″x1″ sticks in bundles, in an airtight room. Once the lumber is in the “kiln”, heat is added slowly until the ambient temperature reaches around 140 °F (60 °C). While the lumber is being heated, it is releasing moisture. Where does that moisture go if the room is airtight? In order to dry reclaimed wood properly to be used for your furniture, you have to have a commercial dehumidifier to draw the moisture from the wood and essentially dry it. Most species of reclaimed wood have an equilibrium moisture content of around 6-8%. It is crucial to get the wood to this moisture, because if it is higher than this, the wood still has moisture inside, that will cause the wood to shrink once in climate control.
This is a much lengthier process than kiln drying but will accomplish the same thing. You want to get the lumber to a moisture content under 12-15%. You will also have to treat the lumber for insects as well.
- The kiln drying process is also required to kill the bugs and micro-organisms inside reclaimed lumber. The recommended process to eliminate insects is to heat the core of the wood to 140 °F (60 °C) for 4 hours.
The first process to construction is to have a plan for the piece you are building. This plan, or “shop drawing” can be a simple sketch or a complex drawing from an architect or designer. No matter the project, this simple step helps assure that you will not make mistakes.
This is highly important because one nail in a board can cause very painful and costly damage to machinery. Use whatever means possible to remove the metal without damaging the wood.
This is the process of cutting to rough length (not finished length), and sizing to width. We typically use reclaimed lumber that has similar color or grain characteristics. Once the lumber is selected, The material needs to be face and edge jointed, then planed to thickness (unless you prefer the original surface of your boards).