Salvaging Furniture for Lumber? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-16-2018, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
...then measure again
 
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Salvaging Furniture for Lumber?

On my way to work this morning I saw someone who had just piled up a bunch of furniture in their front lawn for pickup by the weekly garbage crew, and I thought to myself "looks like there's a lot of potential hardwood in there I might be able to salvage for some project".

By the time I came back around it had unfortunately been picked up already, but it got me thinking - could old/abandoned furniture be a good way of sourcing hardwoods on the cheap (provided they're actually made of hardwood)? Are there drawbacks or difficulties with de-assembling or working with wood that's been finished (ie painted/lacquered what have you)?

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post #2 of 16 Old 08-16-2018, 03:38 PM
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Next time go for it! I once found an old table with two broken legs sitting by the side of the road in a trash pile and it was pre blight American chestnut! Cleaned up great and was able to make three beautiful flag cases from it. Ya never know what you will find.

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post #3 of 16 Old 08-16-2018, 05:05 PM
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Good idea,,, though a lot of the slightly older sofas, etc, have the frames made of the hardest, roughest darn oak, Ive ever seen...Too rough to work with,,,Oh the other hand there is some very good wood in some, so just pick and choose.
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-16-2018, 05:09 PM
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Old church pews can produce some very fine hardwoods

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post #5 of 16 Old 08-16-2018, 06:40 PM
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It would have to be some very large pieces of furniture to be worth the effort. Like the church pews.


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post #6 of 16 Old 08-16-2018, 07:06 PM
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I've been salvaging wood for a few months now when I see various items put to the curb.

I do however, make sure the wood has some value rather being that particle stuff so many pieces are made of these days

But even the crappy furniture yields some value - I've got lots of 1/8" panels I can use for scroll projects
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post #7 of 16 Old 08-16-2018, 08:08 PM
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Hate giving away all my secrets but... another great source for pallet wood are garden centers in the springtime, paint stores, flooring centers... Around here they just stack it up and give it away. You can find some good wood in the bunch.

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In God we trust. All others bring data. - W.E. Deming

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post #8 of 16 Old 08-16-2018, 09:50 PM
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I know a guy that made a nice bed for his kids from pallet wood from the paint warehouse he works at. However, there are two big pallet manufacturers near here. And in visiting them, I found they use the cheapest, crappiest wood they can buy, And a local mill that supplies them verified that. Said the wood he seems to the pallet places is too poor, knotty, etc, to be used for anything else. Mostly oak, with lots of nails

You guys are fortunate to be able to find furniture grade wood pallet.s
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post #9 of 16 Old 08-16-2018, 11:06 PM
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Ill pick up discarded furniture if it is hardwood. Last piece was an old vanity made of solid oak. Got about 5 board feet of usable oak from it. Also reused the mirror for a door on a rebuilt cabinet in our laundry room. The mirror was old and much of the reflective coating on the back was worn off or scratched making for a unique look.
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post #10 of 16 Old 08-17-2018, 07:31 AM
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As for the painted stuff. Just pick at the top coat. If it's hard, it likely an oil base. You can work with that - a light sand, a good deglosser, and a new water based alkyd paint, and you have a new surface. Same with lacquer. If the top coat is soft and peels--than someone's painted a latex over an oil - and you have a lot more work!

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post #11 of 16 Old 08-17-2018, 08:34 AM
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Rarely found anymore. about 30 years ago, I saw a non-working console tv/ record player combo bring over $100 at an auction. I asked the buyer why. He replied because the Cuban Mahogany it is made of is worth three times that. I got to know the buyer after that. He had a three car garage, with two of the bays full of recycled "furniture lumber" And folks came from other states to buy it. He would even strip the ivory and ebony off of old piano keys. The marble tops were sold to a marble recycling concern. Such old valuable materials as furniture is very uncommon to find today, but a few decades back was a different story as every one switched to more modern furniture.
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post #12 of 16 Old 08-17-2018, 10:10 AM
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Confession time: I salvage wood from old furniture, too.

My neighbor moved out a couple months ago, and I got a lot of good hardwood from the furniture they put on the curb. Normally I do not take the particle board, but this time I kept a couple of MDF bookcases. I will use the MDF shelves in my garage for wood storage.

It takes a lot of time to salvage wood from furniture. You must also be very careful to find all the nails, screws, staples, and other hardware. If you miss one, you could easily nick or damage your blades when you use the wood, negating all your hard work. Some people use metal detectors to find hidden metal. So far, I have gotten away with very careful work.

A house burned down in our neighborhood. I saw a lot of potential to collect 1950s pine beams and boards and stuff. A retired fireman here on Woodworking Talk warned me to stay away from it. He said that it is impossible to get rid of the smoky odor in the wood. Worse yet, he said that fires release large quantities of toxic chemicals that get absorbed by the wood. In other words, stay away. So I did.

P.S. My spouse would not let me cut up one of the tables I brought home from a neighbor's curb. She may actually use it for sewing and crafting someday. I disassembled it and tucked it away for the future. If she changes her mind, then I can cut it up later.

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post #13 of 16 Old 08-17-2018, 10:15 AM
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Caveat: A retired truck driver once responded to a post about pallet wood. He stated he would never use it as you never know what has been spilled on it. If a pallet came from a garden center, it could have insecticides, fertilizer, herbicides, etc., spilled on it. I nixed the pallet wood as my wife wanted to do some projects.

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post #14 of 16 Old 08-17-2018, 10:29 AM
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I know a few fire remediation specialist that have told me that bin primer from zinsser is the only way to seal in Smoke and keep it in the wood. It seems to be a staple in that industry. In my experience, that stuff will seal anything and everything.

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post #15 of 16 Old 08-17-2018, 12:00 PM
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Back in my tin bending days I used to get some pretty good wood off the pallets I got sheet metal on, I used to get 5x10 sheets and the pallets had 2 4x6x10 skids on them, most of the time oak sometimes ash

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post #16 of 16 Old 08-17-2018, 02:03 PM
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Believe it or knot, this was a pallet at one time. I made this for a fund raiser. They put it in the silent auction - sold for $125. Good enough for me.
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