Many people enjoy working with reclaimed wood because they enjoy the challenge of taking wood that was already used and giving it a second life. You can use it to make chairs, tables, hardwood flooring; the possibilities are wide and varied. Reclaimed wood can come from anywhere like railroads, old buildings, and even tank storages where they were once used to store things like wine and to pickle things.
Reclaimed wood can also be difficult to work with due to its recycled nature. You should make the assumption that you’ll likely come across things like rogue nails or screws and dangerous chemical substances. Because of this, it’s very important that you have the proper tools to make reclaiming wood as easy and as safe for you as possible.
Personal Protective Equipment
If your wood has paint on it, it’s probably better to err on the side of caution and assume that it’s lead-based. When working with lead-based paint your first option should really be to let a pro handle it. If you aren’t feeling that, however, you first need to take the piece of wood outside and suit up in a respirator, gloves, goggles, washable hats, and paper coveralls. PPE isn’t just for dealing with lead, however – if you’re painting, varnishing, or cutting your wood, it’s important to keep yourself protected from those materials, as well.
An impact driver is handy if you’re working with a piece of reclaimed wood that you either need to drive screws into or remove them from. Impact drivers can bore into very hard pieces of wood with ease and as a result, don’t need the user to apply much pressure to drive in fasteners. They can be a bit loud (as compared to the typical drill), but the convenience that they offer makes the resultant noise a more than fair trade-off.
Speed squares are pretty simple tools. They were created for carpenters and framers to be able to find the proper measurements for rafter and stair angles but can be used by anyone who works with reclaimed wood. Speed squares are a good way to mark off places where any jagged, damaged pieces of wood need to be cut off. They’re a handy cutting guide too, helping you to cut into your wood in a perfect line.
A Sawzall is probably the best way to cut into pallets, metal pipes, nails, screws, bolts; pretty much anything really. It’s a DIYer’s best friend. Sawzalls are relatively small-scale reciprocating saws that can slice through plenty of materials like butter. The lightness of this tool allows you to get it into tight spaces and slender openings with ease.
Reclaimed wood can be pretty dirty and generally gross when you first get your hands on it. In order to retrieve and maximize its true beauty, a pressure washer can clear up years of caked-on grime, dirt, and sand quite nicely. To get the most out of pressure washing, use an even spray tip and gently work your way down the wood, this will ensure that you don’t end up accidentally damaging it.
Like with a Sawzall, orbital jigsaws can cut through many different kinds of materials. With this tool, though, you can carve out circular or curved cuts and notches into your wood. You can create different shapes and even cut lettering out of your reclaimed wood.
We’ve just given you a general list of six tools that can make your goal of working with and prettying up your reclaimed wood a little bit easier. We’re sure that there are many people reading this who’s “Reclaimed Wood Tool Lists” look dissimilar to ours and that’s perfectly fine. If there’s a tool on your list that’s not on ours, share with the rest of the audience in the comments. And whatever you do, always keep in mind proper safety rules when woodworking!