Our Reclaiming Process
How We Handle Our Lumber
We hold a large inventory of hand-hewn and circle-sawn beams in all different shapes and sizes. Sizes range from 5×5’s through 14×14’s in a variety of species including White Oak, Ash, Elm, Hickory, and Maple. We are equipped to handle antique beam packages ranging from just a single, to a few hundred individual hand hewn beams. We can custom cut, prep, and clean to fit most applications and have them ready to be installed in your home or business. Appearances available range from rustic heavy adz marks, to very refined hewn beams that were hand planed back in the day. Because of the craftsmanship that went into their creation, the preservation of these hand hewn beams is a matter of pride at Antique Beams & Boards.
Our beams are 100 years or older
Each one of our beams are from the early 1900's or even older. Some date as far back as the 1850's. They certainly are not making these old growth hand hewn beams anymore.
We do not have a minimum purchase
If your on a budget, need something specific or need a whole 18 wheeler load of beams we can help you out. Look through our inventory or contact us to discuss your specific needs.
View Our Beams
Our Hand Hewn Beam Selection
View our inventory of hand hewn beams. Please check back regularly as we are updating this quite often. If you do not find what you need contact us and we possibly have what you want in our shop.
Learn More Before You Decide
Its always a good idea to do your research on what type of wood your looking for, grain, stain or no stain. We have helped with this below we hope you enjoy our article.
Hand Hewn Beams
Over the years, every reclaimed beam accumulates all kinds of dirt and grime on the surface and in every nook and cranny. Beams fresh out of the barn will be a dull brown color, even grey if they have been exposed to the elements. A thorough cleaning brings back the rich brown patina the wood itself has developed over the decades.
After 100+ years of use, the beams have often acquired all kinds of “jewelry”. From nails, hinges, bolts, wiring, you name it, we have found it nailed to an old beam. We remove everything sticking out of the surface, and if milling is involved, we pull out the metal detectors and dig out what is under the surface as well.
This step of the process depends on the project. We have the ability to custom cut your beams any way you see fit. The most common is shaving one side of the beam to fit flush to a ceiling or wall. There is a lot of irregularity in old hewn beams, this step helps out the installers immensely. The most extensive would be hollowing them out to fit over an LVL or other structural member.
By this point in the process, your beam is cut to your specifications and is ready to be smoothed and cleaned for the final time. Brush sanding not only allows us to clean the leftover dirt and grime from the beam, but it removes all of the bristles and slivers from the exterior as well. After this process is concluded, you should be able to run your hand across the beam without getting any slivers.
In this final step, we assure there are no past “tenants” in the wood. All beams 24’ long and under are heat treated in our kiln. This process takes about 4 days, gradually bringing the core temperature of the beams above 140 degrees, and maintaining that temp for 8 hours takes care of anything living inside. For beams longer than 24’ (longer than our kiln), we use a borate treatment. This has low toxicity to humans, but kills anything eating inside your beam.
Types Of Wood
White oak has tyloses that give the wood a closed cellular structure, making it water- and rot-resistant. Because of this characteristic, white oak is used by coopers to make wine and whiskey barrels as the wood resists leaking. It has also been used in construction, shipbuilding, agricultural implements, and in the interior finishing of houses.
Hickory wood is very hard, stiff, dense and shock resistant. There are woods that are stronger than hickory and woods that are harder, but the combination of strength, toughness, hardness and stiffness found in hickory wood is not found in any other commercial wood.
Ash is a hardwood and is hard, dense (within 20% of 670 kg/m3 for Fraxinus americana, and higher at 710 kg/m3 for Fraxinus excelsior), tough and very strong but elastic, extensively used for making bows, tool handles, baseball bats, hurleys and other uses demanding high strength and resilience.
Elm wood is valued for its interlocking grain, and consequent resistance to splitting, with significant uses in wagon wheel hubs, chair seats and coffins. The bodies of Japanese Taiko drums are often cut from the wood of old elm trees, as the wood’s resistance to splitting is highly desired for nailing the skins to them, and a set of three or more is often cut from the same tree. The elm’s wood bends well and distorts easily making it quite pliant.
Some maple wood has a highly decorative wood grain, known as flame maple, quilt maple, birdseye maple and burl wood. This condition occurs randomly in individual trees of several species, and often cannot be detected until the wood has been sawn, though it is sometimes visible in the standing tree as a rippled pattern in the bark.
Cherry wood is valued for its rich color and straight grain in manufacturing fine furniture, particularly desks, tables and chairs.
Freshly cut eastern white pine is creamy white or a pale straw color but pine wood which has aged many years tends to darken to a deep rich golden tan. Occasionally one can find light brown pine boards with unusual yellowish-golden or reddish-brown hues. This is the famous “pumpkin pine”. It is generally thought that slow growing pines in old-growth forests accumulate colored products in the heartwood, but genetic factors and soil conditions may also play a role in rich color development.
Getting Beams House Ready
The Process can be lengthy, but worth every second
From removing the barn beams, to making them house ready, there is a lot of work involved! We handle most all of our hand hewn beams and sawn beams the same way when it comes to cleaning and preparing them. We take you through the steps involved in providing top quality hand hewn barn beams for your new home or office improvement. Keep in mind the steps involved may vary depending on the specification and customization of your project.
Hand Hewn Beams
Understand The Process of Preparing Your Beams
Hand hewn timbers are renown for their rustic, distressed surfaces. Protecting the antique exteriors of your hand hewn beams requires the perfect finish. While you will want to preserve the appearance of the wood, you must also protect your antique timbers from the effects of time and the environment. Striking the right balance depends on several factors, including where the reclaimed lumber is being used, and how much sheen and gloss you want.
First comes a potentially tough choice: whether or not you want to stain the wood. While staining can help blend hand hewn beams into the décor of your home, many buyers choose to leave the wood’s natural colors intact. For outdoor use, you can compromise with a dye-based stain, which penetrates, rather than covers, the wood. This prevents weather damage while accentuating the natural colors of the wood.
Indoor or outdoor, your hand hewn beams will need a finish to ensure quality over a lifetime. Choosing the right finish will put an end to needless reapplications. Before applying liquid finish, some choose to smooth the surface with abrasives. Commonly, a grit blaster is used. Grit blasters use compressed air to propel abrasive material at a surface. This technique creates an even surface on the wood, without sacrificing the unique, rustic qualities of reclaimed lumber. Furthermore, grit blasting provides a better exterior for applying a liquid finish.
For indoor use, linseed oil is your best bet for protecting antique wood beams while retaining the beautiful surfaces typical of reclaimed lumber. Linseed oil comes in two varieties – raw and boiled. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks. Boiled linseed oil contains driers, which allows for easy application. The raw variety, on the other hand, soaks into the wood, retaining the exterior appearance. However, it takes much longer to dry, and doesn’t hold up well in intense heat. Consider the environment of your house when choosing between raw and boiled linseed oil. These finishes are also available in colors, if so desired.
Your choice of finish for outdoor projects will depend on both the weather in your home town and the amount of surface gloss you want. Lacquer, shellac and polyurethane finishes offer a range of gloss combined with excellent protection. For environmental considerations, you may also consider water-based finishes for your hand hewn timbers.
– Ian Friedman