Saturday, May 30, 2015

Odds 'N Ends - Managing Salvaged Lumber

This is the first of two posts on working with salvage lumber.

Work Table
De-nailing boards can be boring and tedious if the work area is not efficient, particularly when the volume of de-nailing is great.  Most of my salvaged lumber came from tearing down three old houses, two garages and several farm outbuildings.  The amount of de-nailing was substantial and seemed daunting at first but, once I got set up with an efficient work area, turned the radio on to PBS and settled into a routine, I rather enjoyed it.

The shanty for the work bench, provided mid-day shade and support for the work table.  The latter had several two-by-
Shanty-covered work area constructed from salvage
four arms extending outward from under the table as well as several blocks on top of the table (click on photo for closer look at the work table arrangement).  It also had a trough at the back of the work surface into which the nails could be tossed.  Because the boards usually had nails protruding from more than one side or edge, the table top was seldom useful.  However, the naily boards could be suspended between the 2x arms or between the blocks on top of the table and de-nailed without the boards wobbling around.  The working height of the table was lower than might be expected in order to gain plenty of leverage with less effort.

Four tools were most effective for pulling nails -- a claw hammer,  a flat tool, a wrecking bar
and an end cutter long enough to have leverage but no so long as to be unwieldy with one hand.  A short piece of 2 x 4 for a pivot under the claw hammer or end cutter, and sometimes the wrecking bar, was necessary for pulling long nails.  A circular saw was also mandatory.

De-nail or Cut-off?
During deconstruction, when a wall could be laid down for dismantlng, the top and bottom plates could be driven off of the studs with a sledge hammer without damaging the ends of the studs.  However, when walls were dismantled while still standing, the more usual case, the
A naily stud suspended on 2 x 4 arms; notice the toenailing
studs had to be driven sideways off of the plates which invariably damaged the ends of the studs.  Rather than wasting time removing the nails from the damaged ends, it made sense simply to cut off the studs, nails and all, with a circular saw.  Such was necessary more often than not when the stud was toenailed with four nails even when the wall was laid down for dismantling. Unfortunately, the shorter boards are not suitable for reuse in a typical 8' wall without being spliced.

The lumber brought in from the tear-downs was piled randomly in the open for several months without deterioration even in our hot, humid summers.  The randomness and the protruding nails provided plenty of air space between boards to keep them air-dried. After de-nailing however, the need for proper stacking became critical, which is covered in the next post on salvaged lumber.