What is Reclaimed Wood?

Reclaimed wood is wood that is repurposed from its original intended use. For instance, roof rafters or floor joists pulled from and old house or barn is considered ‘reclaimed’ when it is used in a new setting. It could be cut up, re-shaped or used to build furniture, but the simple act of repurposing it makes it “reclaimed”.

What is Reclaimed Wood

Virgin Pine Forest

What type of reclaimed wood do we use? We only use wood that is over 100 years old, we mainly use old growth heart pine. Here's a little history of the wood that we use to build our furniture. Before the American Revolution, longleaf pine, the source of heart pine, dominated the landscape in the South. Once the largest continuous forest on the North American continent, the longleaf ecosystem ran along the coastal plain from Virginia's southern tip to eastern Texas. There was approximately 90 million acres of long leaf, heart pine trees. These hardwoods had been slowly growing for centuries, typically only producing an inch of growth in diameter every thirty years. Most folks don’t realize that It can take up to 500 years for a longleaf pine tree to mature. Most of the wood that you find at your local lumber yard today is yellow pine that is less than 50 years old. 

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The wood from old growth longleaf pine trees built a great number of structures in America and throughout the world, many of which still stand today. The exceptional quality of the longleaf pine was utilized in bridges, wharves, trestles, posts, joists and piles. Heart pine once framed four of every five houses in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, floored Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and George Washington's Mount Vernon. The wood was also used to build ships for the first English Navy, followed by the American Navy. The massive historical ship, the U.S.S. Constitution, has a keel made of a single heart pine timber, and its decks are made of heart pine planks as well. This ship, built in 1794, is the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy. 

Longleaf pine continued its historical impact with the ruling of King George II, who mandated that all straight pines exceeding 24 inches in diameter would be considered property of the crown. He then ordered his surveyors to brand the pines with his mark of a broad arrow. The colonists didn’t take too kindly to this mandate and they tarred and feathered the surveyors. Heart pine played a key role in the growth and development of the United States as an economic power. In the 19th century, heart pine was transported up the Eastern seaboard and over to Europe. The massive wood provided flooring, joists and paneling for homes and factories, as well as timbers for bridges, warehouses, and railroad cars. Also appreciated for its beauty, it was utilized in Victorian hotels and palaces.

What is Reclaimed Wood

Today, original-growth heart pine is extremely rare, with less than 10,000 protected acres of original old growth Longleaf Pine forests remaining. Put another way, what was once 41 percent of the entire landmass of the Deep South, now covers less than 2 percent of its original range. Antique heart pine timbers are revered for their rich history as much as their beauty and durability. Sadly, clear-cutting of the vast southern forests in the late 1800s wiped out virtually the entire range of original growth heart pine trees. The only place to find the remnants of this antique wood is by reclaiming it from old buildings or finding it under water in the southern rivers used by many timber operations in the 1800s to raft their logs to nearby sawmills. 

Since old growth heart pine is so rare, we are always on the lookout for an old house or barn that is being demolished or deconstructed. Then we go out and reclaim the wood and hand craft heirloom pieces of furniture that have an amazing history. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to build furniture with wood that is nearly "extinct". We love the history of this old wood and love being able to give it a new life.

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5 thoughts on “What is Reclaimed Wood?

  1. I read your article on reclaimed longleaf pine and saw the mentioning of the broad arrow policy. I had thought that the policy was in reference to eastern white pine and not longleaf. Just wanted to see if I missed something. Thanks

  2. I just wanted to let you guys know how inspiring your story is. I too have a long story full of struggle but am trying to keep hope alive. Today was a great day to read your story. I have been open since May 15th of this year, business is starting slow but I am keeping busy with building things. I have been a welder for 15 years and was hoping to pass on the trade by offering hobby classes that are at a begginers level and are project based. I haven’t had many students, so I have started building things incorporating wood and metal. However I do not know a lot about woodworking so I have been on You Tube Lol I have done all of the rentivating in my shop by myself so it took me about 5 months to complete it. Now I am waiting but keeping my hands busy. Maybe I won’t be a hobbyest school at all, maybe I will just build and sell things. I look forward to seeing your business grow.

  3. Congratulations on the foresight, strength and fortitude you two and your families have mustered! Continued success!

  4. I like that you talked about how reclaimed wood is only wood that is 100 years old or more. I think that it’s also important to find the right kind of wood. I have heard about teak tables and benches, but I don’t know much about it.

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