Prepping the porch roof parts

I’m pretty sure that both running concrete encrusted boards through a thickness planer, and pushing old growth Douglas Fir beams through a glorified contractor table saw violates international conventions prohibiting the torture of power tools. I am happy to report, however, that my ‘barely a Powermatic’ table saw endured the strain, and surprisingly my Infiniti Tools carbide tipped planer knives seemed no duller after eating cement.

It’s easy to take for granted how much work goes on at a sawmill until you take the time to do some of it yourself! We spent another long day ripping, planing, routing, sanding, crosscutting, drilling, and coating the pieces for the porch roof frame.

It’s pretty common for new builders to think of reclaimed lumber as a cheaper way to build something and if you’re just talking about the cost of the lumber that might be true, but when you start adding in machinery costs and labor it’s my experience that reclaimed materials often cost more to work with then purchasing things new. Of course cost isn’t the only consideration, there’s also a desire to conserve timber resources, but here again, reclaimed wood is only sometimes more eco friendly, which is a topic that is far bigger than will fit in an Instagram post.

What draws me personally to working with reclaimed wood is a sense of personal connection to the structure. The excitement of finding a great stick, the antics of transporting it and storing it, seeing a ratty old board transform into gorgeous grain in the planer, the hard work, the frustration, the laughter, the people met along the way. All of it soaks into the wood and then slowly seeps out for years afterwards in the form of memories and feelings whenever you glance at a certain patch of grain or an interesting knot. It’s these rich interactions that are sometimes erased when you just pay for something even if you can afford it. Of course it’s easy for me to say that when I get to sit and write the Instagram post and Liz is still staining wood after dark!

– Brian

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