Sourcing a new (old) beam

Started the day by coming to the disappointing conclusion that the reclaimed beam that we’d so carefully selected to be the main support for our rafters was just a tad undersized. After going back-and-forth on whether to use it for the better part of three hours, we decided that it was worth losing a day for such an important exposed structural member so we headed out to the usual salvage haunts and explored some new ones as well.

After striking out at the Rebuilding Center and not wanting to get on interstate 5 to go to Sherwood at 4 PM, we took a recommendation from a friend and ended up at Reclaim NW, a local company that specializes in deconstructing old houses.

Portland is the only city in the country that requires houses older than a certain age to be deconstructed and reclaimed, creating both an ample supply of gorgeous old Douglas fir and jobs at the same time. Taking houses apart piece by piece is a lot of work but also a careful skill. The founder of Reclaim Northwest is also the son of the founder of the Rebuilding Center, carrying on a long tradition of Portland home deconstruction.

Portland has a spectrum of salvaged wood options from the very high-end and very expensive to places that you have to wait longer and dig harder but can sometimes get a smokin’ deal. Reclaim NW is somewhere in the middle, with decent prices for somewhere that you can just show up and find exactly what you need that day. The people were super friendly and helped us zero in right away on what we were looking for. After narrowing it down to three beams we actually chose the least clear one because we both liked the character so much.

I strongly prefer reclaimed wood for structural beams because lumberyard beams are never truly dry and you just never know if a beam will twist and crack or how bad.

Back home it was time to grind down the knots to make things a little bit easier on the planer, cut to length, rip to bevel, plane to thickness, and a half million sanding discs later, oil it up for a nice satin finish.

Tomorrow we try again!

– Brian

Follow along with us on Instagram »

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top