Using Re-Claimed Wood
The wood that I use is acquired from building demolition and renovation sites, discarded or damaged pieces of furniture, and so-called “off-cuts” or left-over pieces from manufacturers of other wood products. Often I find excellent wood simply discarded, but usually I purchase the wood. The value of this resource is gradually being recognized, and increasingly we are seeing used lumber being sold by a variety of sellers. Over the years I have established some good contacts for acquiring good used wood, and often rely on these.
Aside from the obvious environmental benefits of giving this wood a second chance at usefulness, there is another benefit: this wood is dimensionally stable. This means that it is unlikely to warp or twist, shrink, check or crack, as much newer lumber is at risk of doing.
Another benefit is the uniqueness it bestows. Perhaps your sand tray or cart has been part of a doorjamb, baseboard, floor, or window-frame in a BC building for 50 or 80 years. Owning a sand tray or cart made from re-claimed wood means that your tray has an interesting and unique story of its own!
Preparing Re-claimed Wood for Building
We start by extracting unwanted remnants of nails, screws, staples, glue, (see left image in photo, top of page) and the non-chemical removal of old finishes and stains.
Then we measure and plan which cuts to make in order to get the required dimensional lumber out of the wood, which in its previous life may have been parts of things as diverse as floorboards, doors and doorjambs, window sills, mantles, or even old tables and chairs.
Marks in the wood that have been left by nails, staples, and screws are repaired. Frequent use is made of tapered plugs to seamlessly conceal the holes where nails and screws have been. Wherever possible the plug is cut from an un-used end of the very piece being repaired, so that the plug will match as closely as possible in colour and grain to the piece.
Building Our Sand Trays:
All trays feature either hand-cut dovetail* joinery in the corners or traditional 1/2″ finger-joins. These are the two strongest ways to make boxes of this type.
Finger-joined trays are also pinned in the corners with 1/8″ hardwood pins for additional strength and stability, as seen above right.
Making Our Sand Trays Waterproof
Step 1: A filler is applied to the raw wood of the interior surfaces before assembly. This helps smooth the surface so that the contours of the wood are not visible in the finished product and improves the tray’s resistance to wear.
Step 2: Two coats of marine grade epoxy are applied by brush to all interior surfaces (tray sides and bottom.) Each coat is sanded before the application of the subsequent coat to improve smoothness and adhesion.
Step 3: The tray parts are then assembled.
Step 4: A third coat of marine epoxy is applied to the interior of the assembled tray, with particular attention to all corners and seams. This coat too is then sanded.
Steps 5, 6, and 7: Three coats of marine grade enamel are applied on top of the cured epoxy, with sanding between each coat of blue. Several thin coats are better than one heavy coat.