Some people like shiny new things and others love antiques and rare finds. Reclaimed wood peaks the interest of the later and is a favorite of ours at nluv Studio. In recent years, the popularity of using reclaimed wood for crafts, home renovations, furniture building, etc. has made this sometimes ‘hard-to-find’ material coveted by many and rare in its own right! Do you have aspirations and design ideas for using reclaimed wood as a material? If not, you should! Reclaimed wood is usually filled with flaws, holes, scratches, wear-and-tear… Yet all of those imperfections is what makes it so special and unique. Reclaimed wood wears the life it’s lived on its boards. While yes, there are many distressing techniques you can apply to new wood, you will never replicate the experiences that true reclaimed wood carries through its own life.
What is reclaimed wood?
Perhaps you aren’t familiar with the idea of reclaimed wood. Don’t worry, let’s talk about it together. Odds are you either own something or know someone who has a reclaimed wood piece. Our philosophy at nluv Studio is pretty simple when we describe it. To us reclaimed wood is any type of wood regardless of its past use as long as it had a past use. It may have been used for building or furniture… It doesn’t matter what its prior life was. The wood could have built a barn, pallets, tables, siding or even decking. Whatever its previous life, think of that as its history and now its time to transition into its next phase with a new purpose. Sounds pretty cool, huh? We think so!
Living in Lake Tahoe, surrounded by wondrous forests and mountain peaks, the appreciation for the beautiful giants (trees) all around us perhaps makes us love reclaimed wood a little more than others. Trees are amazing natural specimens that deserve our respect and honor to use and reuse the wood they provide us for generations to come instead of being wasteful and just harvesting more. With a little effort to locate and sanding & care to clean and prep, reclaimed wood can serve many, many generations to come!
Where can you find reclaimed wood?
The only logical next question is, “Where can you find this rare wood beauty?” That can be the hardest question to answer and if you don’t find any, it could derail your project. We’ve had good luck in finding the materials we need and here are our top three tips to finding reclaimed wood.
#1 Get on Facebook
With the explosion of Facebook groups, this may be one of the easiest ways to find all kinds of wood pieces, piles, pallets, etc. for you to scoop up! Lake Tahoe is a small community, but we have over 10 local Facebook groups where people post items for sale or items for free if someone will just come pick them up. This last winter was a tough one for us in the Sierra Nevada mountains and with that came a lot of Mother Nature damage to backyard decks. Homes that sat vacant this winter didn’t fare well when the snow piled up to the roof and was too heavy for decks to hold. This led to a summer clean up effort where decks were being torn out and replaced.
Decks are built a lot of times with great wood, like redwood, cedar and other solid materials. It’s hard enough to take out a deck, but what about the huge wood pile that now sits in the yard? Post it up on Facebook and see who comes! Our greatest find for the season was this exact situation. Our carport is now filled with over $2,000 (retail) of reclaimed redwood deck boards that are gorgeous. Yes, they are a little dirty and need a good scrubbing/sanding, but the color, age and wear each board holds is unique and amazing! How much did this wood cost us? Nothing! We responded to a Facebook post immediately, set a day/time to pick up the wood and followed through. Find local Facebook groups in your area and see what people in your community are selling or giving away and find your reclaimed wood this weekend!
#2 Get on the phone
Ring, Ring… Calling all contractors, handymen (& women), thrift stores & local hardware stores! We literally mean you should call people around town. Make a list of all the companies, stores and individuals that would know where the reclaimed wood is. Contractors and handymen are probably the ones hired to do renovations resulting in large piles of reclaimed wood. Let them know who you are and what you do. Tell them that you are always looking for reclaimed wood and you’d be happy to take any off their hands. This could save them time and money on the work site by not having to dispose of the wood!
Don’t forget about your local thrift shops and hardware/home improvement stores. Go to the stores and introduce yourself and share your contact info. Tell them what kind of wood you are looking for and to call you when they have any. You could get loads of pallets, broken furniture or other pieces that the stores may not be able to use but you sure can! This is a great way to help re-usable wood make it into your hands instead of the dump.
#3 Drive around
Some of the coolest furniture finds we’ve made have been from simply driving around! It can be expensive to go to the dump, so many people don’t like to go or don’t have a vehicle to do it. What’s the best remedy for that? Just put the items you don’t want out on the curb and see who shows up. Any broken piece of real wood furniture I see on the side of the road is going in my vehicle if I can fit it! A bookcase, desk, pallet, cabinet… You name it, I’ll take it. Most pieces can be re-purposed or perhaps just fixed and refinished. Regardless, they don’t deserve to be trash. I am always shocked at what people throw away and abandon on the street. Help clean up your community from curb trash and create beautiful pieces from reclaimed wood!
We are always on the prowl for unwanted wood whether its in our car, the internet or on the phones. Search through your neighborhood and get your name out in the community. When people know you are looking for reclaimed wood, they’ll contact you. Odds are you’ll get so many calls, it will be more than you can handle. Our Studio now has a carport full of reclaimed wood and is ready to start building. Exciting times are ahead!