Reclaimed antique wood has grown in popularity in the last few years. Previously a staple building material in America due to its strength and abundance, an array of different woods were used in barns, mills and general construction. These days, people seek out once popular woods such as long leaf pine, red wood, oak, chestnut, maple and white pine to create new age creations with antique heritage.
Why Use Antique Wood?
Antique wood and lumbar (wood processed into beams and planks) is used today to create new age antique furniture but more commonly used to create wooden flooring. Antique collectors admire the history behind the wood, re-purposing wood to create a ‘green-building’ and the physical characteristics that the wood displays. Antique wood is also durable due to the tight dense growth rings that relate to age and the fact it has had either decades or centuries to naturally dry out.
Antique wood is re-purposed to create an extensive list of items including flooring, side panelling, exposed beams, shelves, counter tops, shutters along with littler home accessories such as cutting boards and mantle pieces. Antique wood used in building features brings warmth and heritage to often simple homes.
Where to Source Antique Wood From
Often people source antique wood from local wooden dealers although these dealers often source the wood they sell to the public from old factories, farm, boathouses and barns. Other places in which reclaimed antique wood is sourced from include fences, timber framed homes, bars, public buildings, factories, warehouses, gymnasiums and lodges.
The Age of Wood and Wooden Furniture
Prior to the 1860’s wooden furniture and beams were purely hand cut. If the draws of the cabinet or sides of the beams are as straight as a ruler the chances are that your antique piece was created after the 1860’s which is the case for many antique wooden pieces.
Prior to the mid 1800’s shellac was the only finish applied to wood. If your wooden piece is finished with either lacquer or vanish you can ensure this piece was created after 1850. In rare cases, vastly old antique wooden furniture was finished with milk paint, oil or wax.
There is more information on it in the identifying wood used to make antique furniture article.
Wood Through the Ages- Hard Wood and Soft Wood
In America wood has always been a popular building material. From era to era the wood of choice changes.
Here is a brief list of popular woods during these time periods:
1640 until 1700 – Fruit woods, maple, oak, pine, cherry and birch. Design included raised panels and wooden turnings.
1700 until 1780 – Walnut, mahogany and elm. Many pieces during this time were finished with oil, wax or paint. During this period the dovetail joints were introduced (use of pins and tails that fit together perfectly without the need for mechanical fasteners).
1720 until 1830 – Walnut, oak and pine. Pieces from this era often have tapered legs and simple turnings.
1820 until 1860 – Cane. Cane was a popular wooden material and was often used woven.
1840 until 1910 – Maple, oak, ash, black walnut and rose wood (for fine details). Wooden furniture made during this time period is often the most elaborate in contrast to other eras.
1880 until 1920 – Wax, lacquer and shellac were used on the majority of wooden furniture.
1950 until present – Previously popular wood was used less and many furnishing were created from metal, plastic and plywood.
Reclaimed Antique Wood Used in Today’s Society
Used as Wall Features
Antique wood is perfect to use on wall features as these do not need much conditioning and can often be left in original condition. Wall features work well in contrast to flooring as they do not suffer the brunt from daily tread.
Used as Flooring
Antique wood is often a popular flooring choice. Giving your antique wood a clear seal allows the bumps and bruises to speak history and bring warmth to your home.
Used as a Bed Head
Antique wooden bed heads are becoming more popular. Often framed with metal to create a contrast of material.
Used to Create Cabinets
Some antique wood can be salvaged to create cabinets and popularly kitchen island benches. The details in the wood if left in natural form brings a rustic feel to your home.
Used as Framing
Used to frame a variety of furnishing. Antique wood comes in different shapes and sizes so chances are eventually you will find a piece that is perfect for what you are looking for.
Used as Shelving
Easy to cut to size, making antique wood a popular shelving choice. Often used on metal framing, the impurities of the antique wood adds contrast to the room.
Used as Non-Structural Ceiling Beams
Adds historic and vintage details to a home. Used in large ceilings to add depth and warmth. When using antique wood to create ceiling beams often the wood can be left in natural form only needing to cut to size.
Used to Create Household Items
Perfect to create hanging space such as a coat rack or key holder.
Popular Wooden Collectors Items
Wooden Toys & Collectables
Many decades ago children’s toys were often made of wood. An increase in popularity has seen many parents seeking wooden toys for their children to play with.
Rocking Horse: Believed to have first appeared in the 17th century, rocking horses were created from solid wood. Due to them being made of solid wood they would easily become unbalanced and tip. Later, rocking horses were created with hollow wood which are the more sought after antiques in today’s society. Wooden rocking horses come in many shapes and sizes, some intricately painted, others finished with lacquer. Wooden rocking horses can sell from anywhere from approximately $50 to $500.
Wooden Cameras: Popular items prior to the 1920’s when the hand held camera’s were introduced were wooden cameras. Made by Kodak, Blair, American Optical and Scovill, wooden cameras are today popular antique collectors items. Photographs taken with these cameras, along with wooden camera accessories are also highly sought after antique items. Antique cameras sell from $200 to thousands of dollars.
Wooden Dolls: Made between 1680’s until the 1800’s, these dolls were handcrafted with wood usually with fabric arms. Most antique wooden dolls for sale today are priced upwards of $500.
Wooden Pull Toys: Often hand crafted wooden toys with wheel attached to a rope where children would be able to pull them along. Some of the earliest wooden pull toys were carved, painted animals that sat on a wooden platform with wheels at each end. Wooden pull toys made by well known brand, Fisher Price in the 1930’s are amongst the most popular with collectors today. The first ever toys produced by fisher price were pull toys. In 1931, the ‘Dr Doodle’ pull along toy was released. Today these pull toys sell from anywhere upwards of $50.