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Discussion Starter #1
So there are a few lumber yards / scrap yards that take in old lumber and sell it by the plank / board. I thought some of it would be nice to use for making some simple tables / storage boxes.

1) is there an easy way to tell whether something has been treated with chemicals or not for outdoor use and that I should stay away from it?

2) Aside from chemicals, is there something else I need to avoid?

3) Bonus Question: I am having a dickens of a time figuring out what type of wood I am looking at when it is in the recycle yard. I will look at some boards and have no idea whether they are pine, redwood, doug fir or cedar. Any help on being able to figure this out better? The only "test" I have is pressing the fingernail into the end grain test to see if it is soft or not.
 

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Take a hand plane an check for species' as for treated some you can tell by the smell an chemicals
Biggest thing to look out for tho in worms or bugs !!!!!!!!!!
 
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Biggest thing to look out for tho in worms or bugs !!!!!!!!!!
Some of us look for worm tracks; it adds character and increases resale margins. Treated lumber for foundations, deck framing and planter boxes are usually perforated for chemical penetration. Surface treatments can be removed by planing. Also it usually has an odor to it as said here already.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
@ Scluff

Also it usually has an odor to it as said here already.
yeah, but what TYPE of odor does treated wood have???

You see, they keep the reclaimed wood in kind of a big pile outside, and it seems that some of the local cats and dogs have "treated" it with their own blend of chemicals, if you know what I mean. :eek:

So being able to identify the right odor would be a big help.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
@ nostrildamus

"If it's painted, test it for lead."
Thanks for the note.

If it is painted at all, I will be avoiding it. I don't know how to deal with lead paint, so I would have to either test it BEFORE buying it (something I am not sure they would allow me to do), or test it after buying it and then think of a way of disposing it if it does have lead paint.

Unless there is some way to surreptitiously test for lead while at the lumber yard???
 

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If it's older than 1978, there's a good chance it's lead paint. You can buy a lead paint test kit at Lowe's or HD, and your lumber yard shouldn't mind if you do the test.
 

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I assume the reclaimed lumber are larger and longer boards probably from old homes and barns etc. Most of that should be OK. I personally stay away from pallet wood because of my 40 years in trucking. But pallet boards are usually about 48 inches wide and for the most part, they will be thin with nail holes and lots of knots. Pallet wood has a fairly good chance of having harmful chemicals from previous spills and no law regulates the pallet wood.
 
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