For the record, I do it often. I harvest old furniture for the good hardwood it contains. I see furniture on the street, ready for trash pickup, and I grab it. Sometimes we buy old furniture just for the wood it contains. The worst problem is that my friends know, and they bring me stuff. Here are some pointers and experience with harvesting old furniture for the hardwood it contains:
* Avoid particleboard, MDF, plywood, weathered wood, etc.
You won't get anything useful from them.
* Expect a lot of small boards and a lot of waste.
You can always turn them into boxes, handles, pens, or interesting segmented laminations. They are also useful for jigs, test pieces, and prototypes. Some just can't be salvaged. I don't worry about it.
* If you live with someone else, there is a danger that your wood harvest may be turned into a restoration or refinishing project.
* Disassembling furniture takes time.
You are trading time for money. For many people, it is not worth it. Go buy boards instead.
* Don't be afraid to cut things apart.
Sometimes it is much easier to cut off metal fasteners and other parts rather than trying to pull/screw/pry it all out. You can't save it all, diminishing returns applies, and fasteners leave holes anyway. Sometimes a reciprocating saw ("sawzall") is the best tool for the job. I have not resorted to a chainsaw ... yet.
* I have not had much luck with metal detectors.
I don't bother with them. Instead, I disassemble with care. In my opinion, due diligence and paying attention to how the piece was assembled is far better than any detecting tool. Some people do not have the temperament or patience for it.
* Watch for small metal bits, like staples.
Metal is bad. Staples are used in many places. Nails and staples can break off and be hidden in the wood. Pay attention.
* If you aren't sure, cut it off or throw it away.
Metal is bad. If you think a piece might contain metal, get rid of it. The wood was nearly free, so don't take the risk. Cut off and dispose a big piece rather than take a chance.
* Use old blades.
This is a perfect use for that free blade that came with your saw. I don't use my nice Forrest blades for cutting up old furniture.
* Sometimes you take a pass.
We donate to Habitat for Humanity, and sometimes we look around the store. I see lots of useable hardwood in the form of marked-down, donated furniture. Sometimes the wood is worth far more than the asking price of the item. Sometimes Spouse and I have a brief discussion about whether to buy an item for the valuable hardwood, or leave it for a needy person who might buy it, take it home, and use it.
* My motives are personal.
I love wood and hate waste. Reuse is good. Helping the environment is good. Any destination or use has got to be better than a landfill.
Last edited by Tool Agnostic; 09-20-2019 at 11:08 AM.