Reclaimed Wood Furniture July 01 2013, 0 Comments

Before we delve into exactly what reclaimed wood furniture is, let’s first talk briefly about this word – "reclaimed"!   Let’s face it – there are words flying around out there that could get a bit confusing!  Reclaimed, recycled, upcycled (really???), eco-friendly…the list goes on and on.  In this blog, I am going to take a look at what reclaimed furniture is, and specifically, what reclaimed wood furniture is.

The simple dictionary definition of the word reclaim is: to obtain materials from waste products so that they can be used again. The simple definition of wood is:  The hard fibrous material that forms the main substance of the trunk or branches of a tree or shrub.  (I included the definition of wood with only a little tongue- in- cheek ;))  With the vast amount of engineered products we have at our disposal – some of us may have forgotten what real wood is.

Now lets put the two concepts together and apply them to furniture.  In the case of reclaimed wood furniture, our working definition simply put is – "the manufacturing of a new piece of furniture from wood products that might otherwise be deemed as waste or trash". 

Nowadays, there are many sources of wood that can be reclaimed. For centuries, a main style of construction worldwide was timber framing. But now, there are literally millions of homes, barns, docks bridges, and even commercial buildings that have fallen into disrepair and are no longer used for anything.

Sadly, many of these structures have been demolished and the wood never salvaged. Worldwide, as people have become more environmentally aware, we have begun to realize that these items that were once “throw away”, abandoned structures are actually very valuable sources of air-dried, naturally seasoned wood products. 

And since this wood is already air dried and seasoned, it makes it an excellent material to work with.  When using virgin wood for furniture building, there is uneven moisture content that must be worked with.  This is a problem when the furniture maker does not take the time to allow his material to dry out with time.  Many larger manufacturers are able to use large kilns to do this, but a craftsman working on a smaller scale may not have access to this method. 

The problem that uneven moisture presents is the expansion and contraction of the wood. With changes in moisture naturally occurring in the environment, the strength of the joinery weakens when the wood begins to dry out over time.

Reclaimed wood furniture is inherently special because it is crafted out of wood that has a history.  Its character is different from virgin wood in patina, maturation, time worn, grooves and grain.  It also has a people history as it possesses a vintage quality of "days gone by" and if it's used by a person who knows how to design and construct quality furniture well, it can be around for generations to come.

Last, but certainly not least, is the fact that "reclaimed" also means that we are recycling.  Anytime we use existing materials, especially wood products, we reduce our environmental footprint. This translates to a win-win for all of us!