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4 Simple Tricks for Restoring Salvaged Wood Beams

by Jennifer Jones

If the wood is the heart, then the process of reclaiming timber is the CPR that brings it to life. Reclaimed wood originates from various sources, such as old shipping pallets and dead wood. Before wood can be put to residential or industrial use, such as in flooring and cabinetry, it must undergo a restoration process. When you step into a timber salvage yard in search of beams, the first glance at poles in their raw state can be quite an eyesore. However, with a little TLC, the finished product can be a thing of beauty. Here are some simple tricks for restoring salvaged beams.

Sorting and Cutting -- Beams, whether hardwood or softwood, will have originated from different sources, such as old ships, farms and buildings. The beams come in a range of shapes and sizes, so you must sort and determine which beams can be restored. Discard damaged sections by cutting them off the rest of the beam. Since most of the poles are left outdoors, they need to be dried either by the sun or an industrial oven before further processing.

Sanding and Cleaning -- After sorting, beams are subjected to sanding by use of a belt sander. The aggressive action of the belt removes any imperfections on the surface of the timber, including paint, dirt and debris. It is advisable to start with a coarse-grit sanding belt to remove impurities faster before using a finer-grit belt for a smooth, natural finish. A sandblasting machine can be used to get the best results, but the process can be quiet expensive. After sanding, the beams should be cleaned using a high-pressure airline. Pressurised air removes any dirt and dust in readiness for the finishing process.

Repairing Holes -- The sight of nail holes can affect the aesthetic appeal of reclaimed beams. After extracting nails with a chisel and a pair of pincers, try refilling the holes with wood. Glue is also recommended, but the contrast it brings to the timber can be quiet unappealing if you desire a natural look. A simple solution is to pop a toothpick or skewer inside the holes and sand down the surface to achieve a flush finish.

Finishing -- The finishing applied to beams depends on user preference and the work that the poles will serve. You can use either a lighter or darker stain. For instance, you can opt to apply beeswax polish for an original look. A coconut oil stain will produce a darker finish, but the wood will be rehydrated. You can also use homemade ingredients including vinegar of varying colours to accentuate the restored beams. Notably, make sure that you wear protective gear such as goggles and a face mask before embarking on a timber restoration project.