“Reclaimed wood” should be the buzzwords in the current trend of upcycling. Any wood that has been cut down and used and, at the end of that use has been remade into something else, falls in to this category. So where did this modern idea of upcycling wood start?
Before the industrial revolution the English countryside was covered with trees, lots and lots of old, strong trees. In the 1800s towns and cities were built at a faster pace than ever before. The trees started to disappear as they were used in the construction of buildings, furniture, boats and even machinery. The ancient forests were also used in the construction of the railways. The hundreds and hundreds of train track used thousands of trees to make the sleepers.
Unfortunately it seems that the lumberjacks of the day did not realize that this was an unsustainable use of this natural resource and they did not plant more of the same kind of trees that they were cutting down.
When reclaimed wood is used in the construction of new furniture, you will find that the piece has a durability that can only be developed with age. The science behind this theory is that because, as wood ages and is exposed to moisture and temperature changes, the less of an impact they have, making the reclaimed wood stronger than fresh, young wood. The huge hunks of wood that were used as sleepers were usually oak, and are often cut into much smaller pieces to make new furniture or even be used to make mantelpieces for a fireplace.
Reclaimed oak is not only about putting the wood to a different use. There are many salvage firms that remove the floorboards and beams from derelict houses, barns and factories. The wood can be reused for the same purpose with little work, although they would need to be thoroughly cleaned. As the youngger trees that are used in creating new floorboards have not had as long to grow as the old forests, the planks that are made from them are naturally narrower, giving the reclaimed ones the edge again as wide planks are popular for flooring.
The finish of reclaimed wood is unique as the passage of time will have left its mark, through enhanced color, nail holes and small cracks that add character to the finished piece, but do not cause problems with the integrity of it.