How to Prep Old Lumber for Use


Most of us like to use or even keep old lumber that is still in good condition to decorate their house and provide attractive addition to the living area. However, each of the board or lumber need to be carefully inspected or even trimmed so that you can remove any damaged sections. If you have larger boards, you can use it to frame your outdoor sheds or pens, but when you put up an addition it is recommended that you use fresh type of lumber. You should always remember that whenever you are dealing with old lumber, there will be a certain percentage of the boards would be unusable. Therefore, you need to ensure that you have enough supply of the boards that you want to use for the task.

To prep old lumber for use, you need:

  • Tape measure
  • Table saw
  • Framing square
  • Speed square
  • Locking pliers
  • Drift pin
  • 16-ounce hammer
  • Wire brush
  • Electric sander
  • Coarse and medium-grade sandpaper

Prep Old Lumber for Use

How to Prep Old Lumber for Use

  • First thing that you need to do is to check thoroughly the wood that you want to use for any insect infestations before you start to transport the wood back to your house.
  • Once you are confident that all the woods are in good condition, you can proceed to
    • Transport the wood from the area that you got them to your house.
    • Make sure that you have prepared the storage area as well as the work area that you can stack all the woods. The woods need to be placed on some sawhorses by using spacers in between each layer of your woods. Ensure that the edges of the woods do not touch each other.

In order to prevent your lumber from spreading wood fungi and bacteria, you must avoid transporting any of your old lumber in a long distances journey.

  • The next step that you need to do is to place an empty pair of sawhorses in your work area before you can lay the first wood on the sawhorses.
  • If the need arises, you have to clean the wood by using a wire brush.
  • Make a final careful check on the woods whether the woods still have nails, old screws or even any type of metal attached to the woods.
    • Should there be any metal part still protruding on the wood, you can remove them with a pair of locking pliers. As for embedded metal, it should be removed by using a drift pin and hammer.
    • You must make sure to place the tip of the pin on top of the unwanted metal before you drive them out through the opposite side of the wood.
  • Then, you have turned the board sideways and look at the wood from down the side to check whether it is bowed or cupped.
    • If the problems are not severe, you can resolve it but if it is quite major it is advisable that you do not use the old lumber.
  • Another thing that you need to check is cracks that may occur on the old lumber.
    • Cracked lumber can still be used in certain area or you can simply cut the lumber or rip it using a table saw in order to remove the cracked section.
  • After that, you need to take a speed square and circular saw so that you can square off each end of the wood.
    • In order to check for the square-ness of wood, you can use the framing square.
  • Once done, you can sand the edges and surfacing the wood so that you can improve its appearance. You need to do this method if only the need arise.
  • Finally, you can sort your old lumber supply for overall quality and usability.
    • In order to do the above step, you need to use or create a dry storage space.
    • Make sure that you allow spaces in between each of the lumber to enable air to circulate and also preventing mold from occurring while the bottom wood should be having some extra space underneath.

    Always remember that whenever you want to prep old lumber for use make sure that safety always come first. You can use a metal detector for searching your lumber if there are any nails and screws. If you want to put a piece of wood through a table saw or other power apparatus, you can also use the metal detector to search for nails and screws.

    • Before you purchase any old lumber, you need to carefully inspect the whole wood supply.
    • If you collect free sources of wood, you also need to check whether there are any insect infestations and also checked the overall quality of the wood just to make sure if there is any hidden reason as to why it is given to you for free.

Image Credit:

Flickr CC