Cecilie Rohwedder for The Wall Street Journal
In an orange dumpster one recent Sunday morning, between old bricks and trash bags, Heather Olsen struck gold: rustic wood beams that once held the floor of a 100-year-old house.
When Ann and Corey Limbaugh renovated the attic of their home in Seattle four years ago, she spent weeks calling local lumberyards for pre-used wood. Eventually, she found one that had just received boards from an old building in Idaho. She was told to hurry because they wouldn’t be there for long.
Feature wall made from reclaimed Douglas Fir, sourced locally in Vancouver, by furniture maker Brooke Wingrove of Reclaimed Vancouver Photo: Reclaimed Vancouver for The Home Front: Reclaiming Vancouver’s history through furniture and interior design by Rebecca Keillor [PNG Merlin Archive]
“I like using reclaimed wood because I like the look of it,” says Wingrove. “That’s the main thing for me, and then second is using a recycled product. But (for) most people that contact me, it’s the recycling of the wood that’s the main interest for them. They always comment that it saves cutting other trees down, and they love the fact that it’s been in a Vancouver building and now it’s in their house.”
Browning is part artist, part builder, so It’s not surprising that he is drawn to the inner beauty of the reclaimed lumber. And lucky for him, so are many others, just as eager to search for the stories hidden in every grain and to embrace the promise of reinvention.
Preston Browning, owner of Salvage Works, with some deconstructed lumber. (Salvage Works)
“You see on really the earliest barns all hand-hewn beams, very rustic, very beautiful well-aged material,” Browning said. “We sell a lot to contractors and fabricators who are building the interiors of restaurants and bars, coffee shops, offices, that sort of thing.” Anyone who’s been in a recently remodeled or newly built bar or restaurant in Portland has likely seen the kind of wood that fills Salvage Works’ 25,000 square foot complex. The deconstruction ordinance — and plenty of deteriorating barns — will keep them and Salvage Works in old wood for years to come. “It provides jobs, it keeps material out of the landfill and really provides this amazing material that you just can’t find anymore,” Browning said of the ordinance.
The duo, friends since elementary school in Terra Linda and now in their early thirties, have stumbled upon a crowd pleasing business making unusual and one-of-a-kind wooden furniture for restaurants and other businesses. “We have been artsy and artistic and did different things with our hands. We got into woodworking by necessity,” Beatrice said. “We did not have any money to furnish our apartments so we had to make the furniture. We put photos of the things we made on Instagram and then people started ordering the furniture and we started our business.”
Henry Castaldi, owner of Westwood Construction and Salvage LLC of Plainfield, uses a hydraulic excavator with a grapple attachment to remove timber deemed unsalvagable from the 99-year-old Campbell Grain Building in Pawcatuck. | Harold Hanka,The Westerly Sun
“This lumber is very unique and we’re working to recover whatever we can,” Castaldi said. “We’ll probably never seem timbers like this in our lifetime. We have loads that are scheduled to go out to our brokers, who then sell it. Some locals have stopped by and made purchases as well.” Castaldi said a local cemetery plans to buy some chestnut to replace portions of its hearse barn. Although some of it will be sold locally, some of the lumber will most likely be sold overseas to contractors in Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, he said. “Reclaiming wood like this has a big ‘green’ effect because it’s being recycled,” he said. “There are beams here that are 24-feet long and could be more than 400 years old.”
Dawn Backers and dad, Dan Klimesh, own NEI Architectural Salvage & Skräp Work. The duo will be at Junkstock this weekend.
“He has taught me everything from the different woods and architectural elements we salvage to using the tools in the shop,” she said. “It’s been an exciting adventure and I feel like I am always learning something new. Dad is always supporting me in my ideas and dreams of what I can create next.”
Repurposed versus reclaimed First though, a quick lesson on the differences between reclaimed wood and repurposed wood.
To repurpose wood, sometimes also referred to as upcycling, is to take conditionally good material and re-use it for something other than its originally intended use.
To reclaim wood is to salvage material that has reached the end of its existence, revitalize it with life for use again, and transform it either back to its original intent or for another purpose(s). In short, working with reclaimed wood may require more steps before you get a finished product, but more importantly, both actions save materials from ending up unwanted in a dumpster and eventually in our landfills.
The sculpture has been renamed as well, to Simon and Anine. Once again, the sculpture was erected using recycled materials donated by the hardware store. Anine and a few friends helped Dambo and his team with the rebuild.
Bob Falk is a veteran building material reuse and deconstruction expert. One could say he wrote the book on how to salvage building materials. Unbuilding: Salvaging the Architectural treasures of unwanted Houses was released in 2007 as the first book taking you through the process of deconstructing a building. The topic was so new that the publishers had a hard time finding a category for it. To this day you can find Unbuilding in construction, green building, woodworking, waste diversion and other various places.
Bob has a PhD in engineering and works at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin as a Research Engineer. Bob has published extensively on the recycling and reuse of wood materials.
Bob shares his house remodel progress below.
“My daughter Abby helping me lay radiant tubing in my new woodshop. Blue foam insulation is salvaged.
Reclaimed steel framework for garage…from an old coal plant. I designed and welded up all the components.
Front of new addition before stucco. All trim boards are reclaimed DF bleacher seats. All insulation on the inside are industrial seconds from a insulation manufacturer. Garage doors are salvaged and rebuilt.
Stonework is salvaged from a garage I tore down. Light fixture is salvaged from a teardown. Gutters and downspouts are now copper.
Here’s the house today. Still not finished on inside. The right side was built in 1927. I have replaced all the windows, exterior woodwork, and stucco. Everything to the left of the main gable is new. The tall lighting fixture on the right side of the driveway was an original street lighting fixture installed in our Village in the 1920’s. I was able to find two from a house teardown. I bought from the new property owner and rewired/repurposed for driveway lights.
You can’t see it in the pictures but I salvaged from a teardown two clay chimney pots that now reside on top of my chimney. Also, I bought 800 sf of red oak flooring from HFH Restore that will be using in the house to match the existing, just can’t match with new flooring.”
As best you can, try to find salvaged or scrap materials. You can especially save a lot by finding second-hand finished components like cabinets, flooring materials or appliances. Find your local Habitat for Humanity Restore, a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center that sells new and gently used furniture, appliances and all kinds of building materials at an affordable price. Buy reused building materials at a fraction of the cost on Planet Reuse, an online marketplace for reclaimed materials.
The latest salvage wood designs – particularly by Canadian exhibitors – amplify rugged wood finishes by juxtaposing them with materials such as glass and metal. Local studio Fuel Glassworks’ Floe end tables, for example, feature a blackened wood beam with a polished-glass top, while Honing Design’s Hagensborg Bench is made of reclaimed red cedar accented with stainless steel. The company 1925 Workbench, meanwhile, is showing reclaimed barn-board sliding doors with hardware made by hand in the designer’s studio.
Bhate employees work to deconstruct a chapel – one of three buildings selected for the deconstruction pilot program – on Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Materials from the chapel were salvaged for reuse or recycle.
The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Facilities Reduction Program (FRP), in coordination with the Kansas City District, recently finalized a deconstruction pilot project at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Beams from the demolished creamery building in Okotoks will be salvaged for future historical projects
“We were able to salvage about 18 beams and they’re fairly large beams and the beams themselves are fairly old, if you think of the building being about 100 years old and the beams are another 75 years on top of that or more,” he says.
Couronne says the town already has a plan in place for some of the beams.
“We’re going to put some of them in the old saw display we have behind the library and the rest we’ll just put into storage for future use for potentially whatever may be built down the road for the historic point of view.”
Kraaijeveld’s pieces have all been beautifully created from genuine, coloured vintage wood that the artist himself collects as he travels the globe: from abandoned buildings in the Mojave Desert to 16th century Dutch mansion floors. Given that a single work can require over a hundred pieces of different wood, this process is as vital and impactful as the actual assemblage of the found materials.
Using the Brazilian Ipe salvaged from the old Coney Island Boardwalk, my partner Patrick Delorey and I designed and built this low coffee table out of the hard wood. It’s an exploration of deformation, old and new, and a pragmatic form.
We make dining tables, benches, coffee tables, storage pieces, consoles, beds, barn doors, and many other timeless pieces by hand right here in South Baltimore. Our work is primarily made from wood, which we salvage from old buildings around Baltimore being renovated or demolished. Most of the buildings from which we get our material were built between 1880 and 1920.
In order to realize Brecce’s project I wanted to take inspiration from the research of natural objects that, in some ways, have reached their final step in the life cycle. They are for example sawmill’s outlets, pieces of urban architecture, logs carried by the river, firewood…
I have tried to give these pieces a second chance, tempting to make the light come out from the material and to amplify the sensorial experience.
At the heart of this village sits the dome home designed by british furniture manufacturers timothy oulton, used as a creative space where people can interact and consequently innovate new design ideas. The structure, as well as the supporting village created around it, were both built almost entirely of reclaimed material.
Courtesy photoMario Davila and Wesley Updike of Longleaf Lumber stand with one of the loads of reclaimed wood from the former Abbot Mill barn on Red Spring Road bound for re-milling in Maine.The wood is expected to be re-purposed for use in the main Abbot Mill building, pictured in the background.
The wooden floors, joists and decking of the early 19th century structure were salvaged by a reclaimed and antique lumber company and are expected to be reused in the redevelopment of the still-standing brick mill building on the site.
COURTESY PHOTO Workers from Longleaf Lumber remove wood from the former Abbot Mill barn that is being re-milled for reuse in the redevelopment of the main mill building on the property.
Furniture maker Greg Klassen builds intricately designed tables and other objects embedded with glass rivers and lakes. Inspired by his surroundings in the Pacific Northwest, Klassen works with edge pieces from discarded trees (often acquired from construction sites, or from dying trees that have begun to rot) which he aligns to mimic the jagged shores of various bodies of water.
“It’s extremely stable because it’s been drying in the sun and the wind for anywhere to 60 to 80 years,” Gerrand said. “Stable, meaning it’s a woodworker’s dream in that it’s not going to twist or dry and shrink. It’s already done all that and beautiful to work with … The patina on a lot of the wood is amazing just because it’s been sculpted by the sun and the wind.”
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Love the industrial feel of the reclaim wood against the subway tiles. Eat Drink Americano, Los Angeles (photo from Dustjacket Attic).
I am also very drawn to the industrial interiors of the gastropubs and retail stores that are popping up all over downtown LA. Reclaimed wood, wrought iron, subway tiles with dark grout, concrete, pre rinse faucets, and vintage filament light bulbs are characteristic of this style.
Truth be told, I am quite the sentimental girl. All of the wood we used was salvaged from my Grandfather’s house, that he built by hand, piece by piece. It had to be torn down 2 years ago and I salvaged what I could. This project seemed like a perfect way to actually use the wood and get it out of storage.
Projects like this show that there’s really no reason to waste anything in construction anymore! The eco-conscious Casa Estero Puente in Puerto Varas, Chile, was built using wood salvaged from abandoned villas in the area.
Some 240 million board feet of reclaimable wood sits like buried treasure in the city’s blighted homes. Reclaim Detroit
An estimated 240 million board feet of the old lumber still props up the 78,506 dilapidated and abandoned homes that a task force has marked for teardown. All of that wood, if it’s in good enough condition, can sell for the same price—around $2 per foot—as new oak, cherry, and maple. And with reclaimed wood having a moment, 240 million board feet can make a lot of countertops.
Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira recently completed work on his largest installation to date titled Transarquitetônica at Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade in São Paulo. As with much of his earlier sculptural and installation work the enormous piece is built from tapumes, a kind of temporary siding made from inexpensive wood that is commonly used to obscure construction sites. Oliveira uses the repurposed wood pieces as a skin nailed to an organic framework that looks intentionally like a large root system.
And by spruced up, I mean totally revamped with just-right amenities like a soaking tub, an outdoor shower and the comfiest twin leather armchairs in front of the hearth made of salvaged wood. The decor is an homage to the structure’s original function: vintage fishing nets, worn wooden oars and a collection of black-and-white photos that link the place to its past.
In 2009, Kääntöpöytä, finnish for “turntable”, opened in Helsinki, Finland tucked between modern highly trafficked railways by local environmental organization, Dodo Ry. The greenhouse and café was built into an existing train turntable left unused in this industrial graveyard due to contemporary trains and stations. The historic steel structure serves as the framework for the thriving greenhouse made of wood sourced locally from Finland and western Russia. True to the passive solar design the walls are made from long-lasting UV protected polycarbonate. Designed by Joseph Mulcahy, the greenhouse was built by the highly involved staff and volunteers under the guidance of a few skilled craftsmen from Lapland.
Kääntöpöytä is full of recycled pallet planter boxes that grow a multitude of veggies and fruits in the warmer months. Kirmo Kivela, a long-time guerilla gardener in Helsinki and project leader, says the green house has extended the very short growing season of this northern city. Walking into the greenhouse on a brisk March day I noticed the surprising warmth achieved through quality craftsmanship and resonating from the Biolan composter at the entrance.
From May through October Kääntöpöytä provides Helsinki residents with brunches, lunches and vibrant live entertainment. A local chef uses the onsite brick oven and cultivated produce to create delicious Nordic dishes. Under the northern summer sun, guests sit on charming benches and chairs surrounding the greenhouse made from reclaimed doors and wood sourced from a local renovation site.
Kääntöpöytä sports a dry toilet for customer use and compost research with Finland’s Dry Toilet Association. Additionally, the café hosts sustainability workshops about composting, beekeeping, pallet planter box making and other do-it-yourself projects. The lively café, or “kahvila” in finnish, adds some much needed pizzazz to the neighborhood for the many artists who rent studios in the nearby old train industry buildings.
A World Design Capital grant from the city and supportive companies including composting pioneer Biolanprovided funding for the project. The land is leased to these innovative activists from the State at a reasonable rate to assist their cause.
The effects of this repurposed space are apparent at the well-attended events in the summer time. The beauty this inventive building adds to Pasila’s underground alongside graffiti covered retired train cars is a powerful testament to what we can do with our outdated industrial lands as modern technology continues to develop.
This is Brian Kappel. He makes things Happy. Including me.
Brain is the creator behind Space Monkey Designs. He recently made me Happy Demon Hot Sauce. I saw his work years ago and never forgot it. When I contacted Brian about his amazing designs he also let me know much of what he builds is from reclaimed warehouse shipping crates and other materials he finds.
This salvaged table top became Big Bot (see below).
Laser cut letters and images are applied to salvaged warehouse wood to make Happy Demon Hot Sauce.
Space Monkey Designs is filled with Brian’s amazing artwork. Stop by and get Happy!
WHISTLER SHOW Burns Jennings, right, made a key-card return box, above, which led to an exhibition of his furniture.
As well as found wood or wood that “drops by,” Jennings also follows a hydro pole protection program on Bowen Island. Any trees that come down because they are in danger of falling onto a hydro line are converted into furniture via his mill.
He uses large pieces of driftwood from the beach, too.
The Canadian Exporter Breaks in Half 1921 Copyright Columbia River Maritime Museum
Some of the most intriguing lumber we have in stock was never used in construction, and yet still considered salvage timbers. These beams are believed to have been loaded onto a Canadian ship in 1921 that wrecked off the Pacific Coast.
In early 2010 as a beach near the wreck eroded, the shipwreck became exposed and the cargo began washing ashore. The Canadian Exporter was carrying 3 million board feet of lumber plus 200 tons of other cargo, heading from Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, Oregon and then on to Asia, according to a story in the Seattle Times. Some of the timbers that Crossroads and our sister company, Pacific Northwest Timbers now have in inventory were found by locals and hauled ashore with a tow truck, a few others were discovered just beneath the waters’ surface by a local oyster fisherman.
Timber Cargo of the Canadian Exporter Now at Crossroads Lumber and PNT
A salvage crew from Niagara Worldwide remove hemlock floor boards from the third floor of the former Mirro manufacturing plant in downtown Manitowoc. The company is stripping the maplewood and hemlock floor boards for resale from the building where thousands of people worked during the 20th century. / Sue Pischke/Gannett Wisconsin Media
“I see a horizontal forest … it is dizzying almost to see all of it,” Gauthier says of the several million board feet of maple and hemlock flooring now being harvested by work crews armed with crowbars and saws. “I just don’t see branches and leaves.”
If laid end to end, the planks — from trees as much as 300 years old — would equal roughly 2,600 miles, or more than the distance between Manitowoc and Los Angeles.
“The main objective is to keep the boards from hitting the landfill, give them a brand-new lease on life in a new home for another 100 to 200 years,” Gauthier said.
E.T. Moore, established in 1969, is the world’s largest producer of vintage heart pine products. We at E.T. Moore are recovering the beauty of this cultural legacy for American homes, offices, restaurants and public buildings.
As old mills and factories are brought down, we salvage and re-mill the heart pine beams, releasing the natural warmth and character of heart pine’s rich patina, bringing new life to this noble American wood. We take great pride in our role as America’s only “Heart Pine Specialist.”
Owners (and Kansas City natives) Nicole Williams, a graphic designer, and John Anderson, a furniture maker and restaurant designer, in their new store. Anderson’s favorite material is reclaimed wood; he put it to great use in the shop, which occupies a 1940s a garage. “It was essentially a concrete box,” he says. “We specialize in bare-knuckled design.”
GIG HARBOR, WASH., OCT. 22, 2013 — /PRNewswire/ — Homeowners can claim an iconic piece of Seattle’s history with the special edition “Salvage Wood” Sliding Barn Doors exclusively from Real Carriage Door Co. Each wood plank has been salvaged from the original Rainier Brewing Co. Cold Storage Facility located in the Georgetown district of Seattle.
I have a soft spot for the divinely inspired builders- they make me feel normal.
“I built it for everybody. It’s God’s treehouse. He keeps watch over it,” said Burgess, who received his inspiration in a vision that came to him in 1993. “I was praying one day, and the Lord said, ‘If you build me a treehouse, I’ll see you never run out of material.”‘
And thus far, as Burgess sees it, the Lord has provided. Most of his materials are recycled pieces of lumber from garages, storage sheds and barns. Now into his 14th year of construction, he is not finished.
The treehouse has 10 floors, averaging nine to 11 feet in height by Burgess’s reckoning. He has never measured its size but estimates it to be about 8,000 to 10,000 square feet. He did count the nails that he has hammered into the wood — 258,000, give or take a few hundred. And he guesses he has sunk about $12,000 into the project.
“God used my hands to put every piece in place, but I had a lot of help,” said the 56-year-old landscape architect. He’s a country boy but lives in town and compares himself to Job of the Old Testament. His pale blue Paul Newman-like eyes beam and he wears an easy smile on his tanned face.
The folks over at Shwood have teamed up with Aurora Mills to create their latest line of limited edition wooden sunglasses. For the Salvage Series, they are combing the Oregon countryside for unique materials that they can give new life to.
Limited to 50 individually numbered pairs, these have much more of a backstory than the pair you bought at the kiosk in the mall.
Having established a reputation as someone always on the lookout for wood to repurpose, he [Ron Hunt] learns of potential treasure troves of old wood through word-of-mouth, keeping an open eye and online. He bought a barn about to be torn down in Hershey, Pa., on eBay.
“I’m trying to salvage and repurpose old wood and keep it alive,” he said. “It’s part of our history. The old barns are disappearing every day. It’s something future generations are never going to see if we don’t preserve it. It’s our ancestor’s history. It’s our country’s history, and it’s important to preserve.
“Any time I’m out in the country and see an old house falling down, I ask if I can take something (and often they say yes),” he said. “The older and rougher, the more character it has, and that’s what people want.”
We love the mix of reclaimed wood and steel. Looks like Todd Manring has the chops to make them beautiful! Go visit his shop on Etsy for more.
This isn’t a boring old desk for some boring old office space– bring some style into your business or home office with this gorgeous steel and solid reclaimed oak desk. This will be custom made for you, so we can make it whatever you need it to be to make your daily grind a little easier on the eyes:)
While J.Crew’s bold colors and tailored lines may have been wowing the audience during New York Fashion Week on Tuesday, it was the runway that stole the show. Created from wood salvaged from Coney Island, Rockaway Beach, and Atlantic City, models strutted their stuff over what was once considered wreckage from Hurricane Sandy.