Needed: Antique/Used/Abused lumber or tables
March 21, 2007 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Sources for antique wood from old construction, like old crossbeams, etc? Or used/abused antique tables?

I am 22 and have plans on an apartment or house. As such, I've been wandering around furniture stores, etc. looking at furniture. Nothing has struck me the same way as the used and abused old wood/brick in a few local college bars (one is a converted fire station from ~110 years ago.) Also, during a recent trip to Charleston, SC I was taken aback by the local Urban Outfitters store (sounds silly, but whoever renovated the original architecture was a master)--flickr has a photo, maybe you can get a little of the idea (and search Urban Outfitters Charleston.)

Now, my question is, what are some ideas on where to get to this kind of wood, either scrapped or in table form? It has such amazing character, with grooved and naturally darkened surfaces. Also, pine "fossilizes" with age and becomes a beautiful (and fragrant/incredibly hard) wood. The thing is, you only see it in old buildings, etc, since it takes time to get that way...and obviously I can't go stealing someone's walls! Does anyone know where I might find antique lumber/tables?

So far I've tried antique stores (too expensive and too well-cared-for at any rate), flea markets, and goodwill-type no success.
posted by Phyltre to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The sad news is that the word is out that this wood is valuable, so wherever you go it will not come cheap. The not-so-sad news is that there are plenty of businesses that specialize in these products and offer them much more cheaply than what you would pay at antique stores. Try doing a google search for architectural salvage suppliers near you.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:19 PM on March 21, 2007

Get to know (or grow up around/with) people in rural areas with old farm properties.
In one day on a run down farm, you could probably find enough stuff to keep you busy for a good long time.
posted by ducktape at 5:19 PM on March 21, 2007

There are several supplies of this type of lumber out there. Google 'reclaimed lumber' or 'antique lumber'.
posted by buttercup at 5:36 PM on March 21, 2007

Don't know where you live, but anywhere on the Gulf Coast houses are being torn down left and right.
posted by JujuB at 5:54 PM on March 21, 2007

Seconding architectural salvage yards. We are in the Bay Area and have gotten quite a bit (plain lumber, finished doors, hardware, bathroom fixtures etc) for our old house from Whole House Salvage in East Palo Alto and the Omega Salvage yards in Berkeley.
posted by padraigin at 9:15 PM on March 21, 2007

where are you?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:25 PM on March 21, 2007

Response by poster: Columbia, SC
posted by Phyltre at 9:53 PM on March 21, 2007

Definitely local farms etc. Ideally you want antique shops that are waay out in the country, not in town. You could find a friendly antique place and hang around, visit regularly, let them know what you've got your eye out for. South Carolina Architectural Salvage will be an obvious place to look, but on a quick glace their stuff looks on the expensive side. A list of some antique places in SC by area.

I don't know what SC's like, but I know you could drive around upstate NY and find antique barns by the dozen, lining the sides of the roads; you'll have to invest time to find something good for a price you're willing to pay, though. (In NY, Ithaca's Significant Elements has good stuff; you could call and see what they can tell you about doors they have.) Here are a few more nationwide architectural salvage places.

Architectural Salvage web forum and eBay's category for this might both be worth a look, though the shipping would be super expensive. You could try craigslist or freecycle (less likely to find something suitable on freecycle, but you never know).

Auction houses that host estate sales are sometimes worth going to, but I don't know how to find a suitable one near you. Craigslist seems to list estate sales, too.

Apartment Therapy (a blog about decorating your tiny expensive apartment in a a major city, and which shops to go to) recommends the Mountain Lumber Co as a place to get old wood for flooring in the southeast US; you might look at their site and see if they fit the bill.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:28 PM on March 21, 2007

There is a company called Christian Millworks in Augusta, GA that reclaims a lot of lumber; I would guess there are other alternatives closer to you but it might be worth a call.
posted by TedW at 7:33 AM on March 22, 2007

post to freecycle. Lots of beautiful wood gets scrapped; it's finding it that's hard. If you were in Maine, I'd give you (most of) what's in my garage. I've got reclaimed panelling in a bathroom that was fished out of a dumpster, and the family set the rest of it aside for us. You might like the look of pallets, which are easy to scavenge, and are occasionally nice wood. Go to junk and antique shops and ask if they have broken pieces of furniture. If you get good at furniture repair, you'll be able to make money and get lots of good stuff.

You might also be at least partly responding to the look of varnish, shellac or other old finishes, instead of polyurethane.
posted by theora55 at 10:56 AM on March 22, 2007

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