Tools & Tips for Reclaiming or Recycling Wood

Reclaiming or recycling wood is certainly one way to lend Mother Earth a helping hand, it not only minimizes waste but it reduces the demand on our forests. The other plus is that you might have yourself hard-to-get, expensive-to-buy, no-longer-sold prime timber, BUT, and there's a big BUT, you'll be put through your paces to get it to a workable state. 

Recycled wood is generally not too hard to come by, demolition yards, even your local timber yard will probably sell it and if you're cheeky enough, why not ask at a building site...

What could be underneath?

Peeling back the layers of a piece of recycled wood is often like unwrapping a present, albeit a fairly difficult present to unwrap. Most of the time you'll like what you see but there are times you'll be disappointed, old paint and genuine wear and tear can hide what you might think is a perfect piece of wood....

No visible signs of borer? Once you peel back the layers you might be surprised to find borer holes and tracks a plenty, how did they get in there???

That dark marbled type mark on the surface could be a beautiful feature.... but once revealed it is actually full of rot.

And yes that's a rusty old nail never to relinquish its home right in the center of your prized piece of timber.


So be prepared.....


Tools for removing the layers.

 Recycling Wood Tools

Most pieces of reclaimed or recycled wood are full of nails, staples, screws, and are often covered in layers of paint, so here's what you'll need to get recycling:

1. Hammer, nail puller, nail punch, chisel, pliers, small block of wood.

A gentler approach is probably the better way to go about it, easing out a nail in a forceful but gentle manner will avoid the pesky problem of nails breaking, which then requires a chisel or a nail punch to gouge out wood to get to the nail. A small block of wood used under the head of the hammer will help ease out longer nails too.

2. Pair of leather gloves

If you like splinters and the chance of being stabbed with a rusty nail, then don't bother wearing them...

3. Metal Detector 

Even if it looks like you've removed all metal, running over the wood with a metal detector will tell you for sure. You can get metal detectors from an electronics store, its a small investment compared to what you might pay to replace blades and machinery in the long run.

4. Paint scraper, heat gun or some sort of paint remover

Is it painted? If you don't have any of the larger machinery mentioned in #5 below, then you're probably going to need to invest in some sort of paint remover. If you're working with old weatherboards or doors from an old building then you might want to check that the paint is not lead based, you can get a cheap test kit from your local paint store. If the paint is lead based a Paint Shaving machine with a vacuum attachment is a great option, hire them from an equipment hire place if you don't have one. Make sure you get schooled on the precautions around removing lead based paint as well. 

5. Thicknesser, Bench Planer, Lathe, a Saw or Electric Sander.

Once you've removed nails and any debris a thicknesser, bench planer or lathe will make light work of peeling back the rough outer skin, but these are expensive pieces of machinery. Alternatively you could try skimming off the ends with a saw (BE CAREFUL) or use an electric sander with a fairly coarse grit.


As you can see recycling wood is not for the faint-hearted but the gratification that comes from recycling a beautiful piece of timber and then using it to make something is what makes it all worth it.


Thanks for reading, if you have your own Tools & Tips, please comment below.





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