Drying/preserving Train Track Sleeper - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 08-09-2019, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Drying/preserving Train Track Sleeper

Hello all,

I am brand new here and know 0 about woodworking but I am in need of some assistance if someone would be so kind.

I’ve acquired 50ish year old wood from a train track sleeper. It’s been sitting outside since the 1970s and I would like to preserve it as it means a lot to my family to have finally obtained a piece of it.

I don’t know what type of wood it is. It’s very wet still from the rain and has green moss on it.

My hopes is to dry it out, Preserve one piece on a shelf and use the other piece for various projects possibly a clear epoxy box or jewelry piece for my mother as a gift.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

As a side note this wood was obtained with permission from the current property owner.
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post #2 of 3 Old 08-09-2019, 05:30 PM
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what ever you make, it should not be an item that is handled a lot.
train track sleepers are "normally" preserved under pressure with
creosote and other nasty carcinogens that may take decades to
leave the wood safe enough to handle on a regular basis.
a member last week in the UK had the same issue. only he wanted
to make wooden kitchen utensils from it - that would come into direct
contact with food.
you may want to re-think the items you want to make.
personally - I would make a nice wooden plaque back and fasten the
wood slivers to it with a nice engraved brass tag indicating the history.
and give that to family members.
I would just dry it out in the sun and not even remove the moss. (it will
eventually die and turn brown - then you can spray it with a poly or shellac).
just present it as found on the plaque.
after you make something out of it, it looses its history once it is passed
from one person to another. the display plaque is permanent.

This is what I mean by putting the wood on a plaque. (safe for everyone).
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Last edited by John Smith_inFL; 08-09-2019 at 06:22 PM.
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post #3 of 3 Old 08-11-2019, 12:04 PM
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Hello JeyM,

I agree 100% with John's advise on this. The scope of repurposing a section of creosote laden track for a lay-person and/or someone new to woodworking is too advanced.

A plaque with a section of wood is my best advise unless you wish to hire someone that has experience in the historic restoration/conservation of wood to design and build you a given item of this material. It will required proper treatment, encapsulation/hardening and augmentation with other "new wood" or sections of historic wood that can (and should!) augment the original materials you wish to make the focal point of the project.

Good Luck! Let me know if I can expand on any point I made...

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