Studs, Joists, and Beams
Sneak a peak into the walls of many old houses and you’ll spy a gold mine for furniture makers. “All the wood used 100 years ago to build houses were cut from old growth forests, whether it’s heart pine in the northeast, or white pine in Michigan, or Double Fir out west,” Haines says. “Those trees grew slowly and were tall with long straight trunks 100 feet tall, and the branching is only at the top of the trees. They have really tight growth rings which give them strength and straightness you don’t see in today’s wood.” All of those traits make them ideal for furniture makers, as the wood is straight and dried to 10 to 12 percent humidity, making it far more stable than fresh cut wood.
Haines says the easiest way to tell if you’re dealing with antique lumber is to look at the color: modern wood is typically blonde, while antique wood will be oxidized and have a darker patina. Also look for saw marks or if it has been rough hewn instead of perfectly planed — Haines says those add particular value.
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