The Joys and Pitfalls of Buying It
An inexperienced vendor who has reclaimed wood to sell will most often place an unrealistic price on the material thinking they have something of value in their possession. The fact that there is a lot of work to do to repurpose reclaimed wood is one reason to be cautious when purchasing so that you can avoid paying too much for the product.
When reclaimed wood is purchased, it is important to know a couple of things: if the metal fasteners have been removed and what the moisture content is. If the metal fasteners have not been removed, it can be labour intensive to complete this aspect costing you time yourself or the cost to have a contractor do the work for you. The moisture content also may be inappropriate for the intended use or, the wood may need cleaning or brushing for it to be used in its current state. It is important to seek the experienced eye to help you understand what you are looking at. Using a shop that is familiar with reclaimed wood can save you time and money as well as promote a successful outcome for your project.
Do not fall prey to the idea that because the wood is old, it is dry. Woods moisture content matches to its surroundings so if it has been stored in high humidity area, then it may be too wet for your purpose. It will need to acclimatize to its new surroundings for a length of time before it can be repurposed. The moisture content in wood is easy to measure and can be done with a moisture meter found in most hardware stores. The wood used in a residential setting should have a moisture content of no more than 10%.
Additionally, when you are looking at the end of beams that you plan on sawing into boards for one purpose or another, take notice of the growth rings. If the center of the tree is present, there will likely be a crack, or cracks, radiating out from the center. This makes it difficult to saw the material into boards as the boards will have the cracks and will likely fall apart. It is best to have beams or timbers that are free of heart (FOH) if the end goal is to saw the wood into boards for another use.