Finding the markets for your salvage?
November 23, 2013 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I am in a remote rural area of Atlantic Canada. There is as much old collapsing shit here as a person could want, I have only been here a short while and already have more salvage than I know what to do with, it's an embarrassment of riches!

I know what to do with most of it. Some is for building up my chicken coop, fencing, etc. The shittiest bits are for firewood. It's the better stuff I would like to figure out what to do with.

So these are the kinds of things I think could find a better market somehow:
  • big beams, still dry and good, rough hewn by pioneers and now looking old and beautiful
  • big planks, as above, from the time when trees were huge and nobody even cared
  • decorative / functional elements like old barn doors, windows, etc.
Looking at some of these items, I am thinking that they would be highlights in some Boston or New York context - coffee table, or even an exposed structural member for a new building?

Where do I find fancy-pants architects and high-end builders who are ready to pay through the nose for antique wood that used to be a barn or similar?
posted by Meatbomb to Work & Money (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Woodworkers will also pay good money for old beams and structural members. So you might try higher end lumber suppliers (don't think 2x4s, think oak, cherry, walnut boards etc).
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:31 PM on November 23, 2013

If I was in your position, I'd put together a well-done digital photo collection of the stuff, start calling high-end architectural salvage stores in major cities to see if they're in the market for materials, and offer to email them the pictures to see if they're interested.
posted by erst at 1:37 PM on November 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm not knowledgeable about this sort of thing but I have one perhaps mildly useful suggestion. The Sundance catalog sells furniture advertised as made from salvaged materials. Perhaps you could contact them and get information?
posted by medusa at 1:51 PM on November 23, 2013

The ad that showed up under your question might be an answer: elmwoodreclaimed
posted by oomny at 3:28 PM on November 23, 2013

Your query is about selling it to the end user, but if you google variations on "reclaimed barn somelocationname" you'll find businesses who will buy your wood to sell it to the end users.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:12 PM on November 23, 2013

You could try Pioneer Millworks.
posted by evilmomlady at 4:49 PM on November 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you are in Nova Scotia, check out Graff Brothers in Digby County or Renovators Resource in Halifax.
posted by fundip at 5:11 PM on November 23, 2013

Response by poster: fundip, Graff Brothers is already on my radar (closed for the season, but we went by today).

I guess I want to find out how to cut out these middlemen and get to the punters directly :)
posted by Meatbomb at 5:38 PM on November 23, 2013

Best answer: As a woodworker I would love to get a better deal on lumber than from a dealer. But I wouldn't know how to find you and you wouldn't know how to find me, particularly. You could try ebay or craigslist but that's probably no good if you don't know the ballpark value to a dealer or end user. I wish I knew what to tell you but I don't. Middlemen exist for this very reason, because buyers can't find sellers.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:41 PM on November 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I guess I want to find out how to cut out these middlemen and get to the punters directly :)

You start Meatbomb & Sons Architectural Salvage Co., Inc. Architects and builders are too busy to buy this stuff directly, they use salvage companies to source their materials because it is quicker and they have some measure of confidence that they are going to provide a reliable quality of goods. The salvage is not what is in short supply, the time and expense of sorting through it all is, hence the salvage companies.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:07 PM on November 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Now that I think about it well, duh.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:18 PM on November 23, 2013

You have some good stuff but you have no market. Just take some great pictures and go on Craigslist in the markets you think would see this as valuable and spin your stuff with some flair - being specific about the shipping arrangement. You're right that what is total junky crap in one location is valuable in another - but what makes it valuable in another is the person who can package, transport, and market it in ways that it is findable, affordable and usable. You're the bridge. Rock Steady's approach is right, but you don't even need to do it fancy. Load up a truck and drive some of it down to Brimfield, or even better, just list it online and get them to pay shipping.
posted by Miko at 9:14 PM on November 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know this question is pretty dead but I came across it again and I had a thought.

I wonder if you could the experience, as well as the materials. Like if you could find some WW or other people who might want the beams, who would enjoy picking through your property looking for stuff, and possibly working with you (or doing all the work, but I imagine there are liability issues) to get the materials out.

I think it would be fun, personally. I love antique lumber, and I think I'd love to have a story to go along with a piece, that involved finding and retrieving the raw materials myself. I know I'm not alone, my mom is nuts for stuff like that. Provenance is everything to some people.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:43 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

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