How to Prepare Reclaimed Wood





Introduction: How to Prepare Reclaimed Wood

I bought some wood off of craigslist. The fellow said it was redwood from a barn. I decided to restore it rather than using it with the aged look.  The Instructable will describe how I went through the process of getting the wood ready to plane using the planer/jointer at TechShop.

What you will need:
* Eye protection
* Ear protection
* Respirator while sanding
* Old wood
* Access to a Jointer/Planer

Step 1: Remove Nails

Absolutely no metal can go through the planer/jointer. If there is a nail or staple in your wood it will damage the blades and you will have to buy new ones. 

To make sure your wood is metal free follow these steps:
*  Visually inspect the wood. 
*  Remove all nails, screws, staples, rocks.
*  Look for problem areas. Cracks, loose knots and rotten wood. You may not want to plane those boards.
*  Use a hand sander to sand all sides of the wood. You can get away with just one pass The sander will find any last metal you missed. You may be able to see the metal - as it will be a little shinny dot. Or you may hear a new sound when the sander hits the metal.
* Cut off the ends of the boards if they are not even. This will help the wood feed through the planner.

Step 2: Using the Planner

I am not going to go through the details about setting up the planer. The calls you can take at Techshop, or where ever you are using your planer will tell you that. 

Use eye protection
Wear short sleeves
Don't wear gloves or jewelry

Measure the width of your board. If it 2 inches, set the planer for 2.125 inches and run a test board through. It should slide right through. Adjust the machine in tiny bits until it is taking just a little bit of wood off of the board. You can see in the two pictures here that there is a little difference between the 1st and 2nd pass through. Some of my wood required 2 passes and others required 3. If you want all of your wood to be the same thickness, you will need to pass all of the boards through at the measurement of the thinest board. 

Most of my boards were 1x8. That means the true original measurement was 1.75 by 7.5.   After planing both sides the boards were close to 1/2 inch wide. 

Step 3: Using the Jointer

After planing each side of the boards I put the them through the jointer. This gave them a finished edge on all 4 edges.   You can't do anything with the ends but saw them straight.

This process took two people 3 hours  to remove nails and sand. It took one person 6 hours to plane all of the edges. The folks at TechShop Menlo Park and San Jose were a great help. 

My Son and I made a nice coffee table with the wood. We had to adjust the plans for the smaller width of the boards, but it seems the thinner wood will work just fine.



  • Science of Cooking

    Science of Cooking
  • Pocket-Sized Contest

    Pocket-Sized Contest
  • Spotless Contest

    Spotless Contest

We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.




"Most of my boards were 1x8. That means the true original measurement was 1.75 by 7.5. After planing both sides the boards were close to 1/2 inch wide."

I don't follow. Am I crazy, or are 1x8's 1.75" wide? And that gets planed down to 1/2" wide?

You're not crazy _for this_, but you're thinking of 2x8s; 1x8s are 3/4 x 7 1/4. Sorry you had to wait a month for a reply.


If you get a nick in a planner head...
Loosen one blade and move it about 1/32 to the left
Loosen a second blade and move it 1/32 to the right
Leave the third blade where it is.
now the "streak" from the nick will disappear.

the old planer in my schools shop was a single blade so it wouldn't work on that

Hi, would this work for an Bench Top Planer as well?


Hi Adam.. I don't see why it wouldn't. Mine is an old Foley floor model so theres enough room to slide the knives a bit. This trick as saved my hide in the midst of a project a couple times.. Best luck..FN..

Funny, you should say something now---today, I noticed mine has oil cups on knife the mount, filled it up with wd40, and oiled up the wheels, and the blades... woa, does it cut even better now... smooth, clean, clear cuts.... no more skipping, and its not taking off chunks of wood now, just clean shavings... helps having quality made old school stuff... Going to have to post up some of the stuff I have made, using recycled wood.


Good to hear!! You might be interested in checking out a forum I'm associated with:

I've seen several folks from instructables there & it's a great knowledge base of talented folks

You planned and sanded away all the character of that wood. I mean it's a nice table you've got there, but it looks so average...

Redwood is soft, and form follows function. A coffee table won't look nice or last generations if it's impossible to seal from liquid damage, and won't be comfortable to use if you can't slide a glass of milk across it without it catching a raised edge and tipping over... Not all reclaimed wood is good for all applications in the condition it's on once reclaimed from a structure.