After racing against the clock to get dressed and force down a bowl of oatmeal, I get three boys off to school, let two dogs out and feed the two cats that have never killed a single mouse even though that was the unspoken agreement of their joining the family, I am off to the shop- one that I never saw in the cards. A shop that didn’t exist three years ago, but now sits waiting for someone to finish the many orders that lay waiting. After being given my first barn to deconstruct board by board, I had to find a home other than my barn lot for all the wood I would acquire. Currently, the little cement block building is surrounded by lumber that has been reclaimed and stacked waiting for its next place to call home. The building itself is packed with reclaimed hand hewn barn beams that have been kiln dried and are just waiting to be turned into fireplace mantles, decorative ceiling beams or rustic table bases. Heritage beams are filled with history. If only we could listen, as they share their stories from times gone by; from the mortise and tenon pockets to the nails that were driven into them nearly one hundred years ago the rich character and old growth wood has withstood the test of time. When the green lumber was milled using trees that were growing in the area near where the barns were going to be erected Woodrow Wilson was in office and the roaring 20’s were in full swing. In the Midwest I find a lot of Oak, Beach, and Hickory heritage wood that if it were not reclaimed it would end up forgotten and rotting in a field or buried to be forever lost. We take for granted that heritage barns will always exist, but more and more are taken down each year. They have outlived their purpose or construction growth calls for their removal. Old growth wood is not like the wood we find today at the local mill. This lumber had to carry the weight of the barn, the loft, and whatever else needed to be stowed away inside. It grew at a slower pace and is denser than wood that is genetically designed to shoot up quickly today.
It can be a crowbar, a hammer, or a chainsaw in my hand. I love the work. There is something exciting to me about being in these old barns. You never know what you will find or what someone else will create from what I find. The work is hard, tiring, and so very dirty, but I just love doing it.
Reclaimed Barns & Beams provides lumber to those who create using historic wood that has a story.