Alan enjoys woodworking and has a special interest in rustic home decor. He has been involved in woodworking for over twenty years.
Where Can I Find Some Free Barn Wood?
The short answer is to go out and work hard, and you will probably be able to obtain some barn wood. If you live in a rural area, this may be a little easier. Of course, you will need the tools necessary to harvest the wood.
For the best chance of a big haul, a truck and trailer will be needed in addition to tools. Start out by asking friends and family who may have an old barn or building that needs to be cleaned up, repaired, or torn down. Teardowns are a reclaimed lumber hunter's dream.
In addition to people you know, keep an eye out for old buildings being torn down around town. There is nothing wrong with stopping to ask if you can pick up boards out of a pile in the yard, but don't pick up without asking.
I recently found a pile of barn wood at a nearby teardown. The old barn was falling in, and the owner had pushed it over with a tractor. I asked if I could pick some of the old boards up, and he told me to take all I wanted, he was planning to burn the pile. When I checked later, I found that the barn was built in 1912! This turned out to be some of the most beautiful salvaged wood I have ever found.
Check the Classifieds
Classified ads can be another source of old barn wood. If you have the proper equipment, you could place an ad to tear down old buildings in exchange for the lumber. This can be a big undertaking, so make sure you are prepared. Also, I have found ads on Craigslist where people planned to tear down an old home and were giving away anything you could haul off.
The first time I looked, I actually found an ad like this and the property was only a short, ten-mile drive. Turns out the home was 70 years old, and the owner was doing a complete teardown and removal. The ad actually said, "don't bother to contact me, the property will be torn down in two days, take whatever you want." I was hoping to find enough salvaged wood for a couple of reclaimed wood shelves. To my surprise, I was able to harvest over two hundred boards of antique heart pine for free!
Sources for Reclaimed Lumber and Barn Wood
|Wooden Pallets||Reclaimed Wood||Old Barn Wood|
Friends with Old Barn
Brick and Block Supply Stores
Remodels and Tear Downs
Family with Old Barn
Pet Supply Stores
Small Local Sawmill
Look for Stacks of Pallets
Friends and Family
Hardwood and Exotics
Believe it or not, there are some sources out there for hardwood and exotic varieties. One of the best places to look for rare reclaimed wood is your local lumberyards. With a little research, most people can probably find a lumber yard within driving distance. You can go to these yards and look through the stock they have on display. Who knows, you may even find a great deal! But the best deals are the ones they don't advertise.
Did you know when a lumber yard gets a load of infested lumber, they reject the whole load? You may need to get to know the folks at the yard by purchasing stocked lumber a few times. Eventually, you can probably get a lead on where all that rejected lumber goes. My uncle gets loads all the time from a nearby lumber yard, and the wood is great! He gave me a little stack of dirty, rough-cut boards not long ago to make more room for another load he would pick up later. He said they would make some pretty boards, but I didn't realize until I had planed one that it was black walnut!
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Get the Inside Scoop
Keep in mind that there may be insects or their eggs inside infested wood. You will want to take proper precautions when storing with other lumber. I don't like to spray the wood with chemical pesticides, so I place new, infested lumber in a homemade kiln and run the heat at about 200 degrees for a couple of hours. This should kill all the pests and even out the moisture content. I can almost see the gorgeous reclaimed wood furniture taking shape.
Wooden Pallets Make Great Rustic Home Decor
Although the wood is probably not antique, an often free source of lumber for rustic projects is wooden pallets. Focus on smaller businesses that have big stacks of wooden pallets out back. Be sure and ask the manager before loading up anything. Some places reuse their pallets, so the answer will be no sometimes.
A few places that I know usually have tons of wooden pallets are feed stores, pet stores, and brick or block supply stores. I noticed about 200 pallets stacked behind a small feed store in town. I stopped and asked if I could have a few, and the owner told me I could take them all if I wanted.
Local Sawmill Lumber
Folks that operate these sawmills normally have stacks of lumber that may be for sale. If you have the means and the logs, sometimes you can strike a deal with a small sawmill. I take logs about nine feet long to my local sawmill guy when I come across some. He saws them up into boards, and we split the boards half and half. Check local classified ads or farmers' bulletins for sawmills near your area.
Good Luck Lumber Hunting!
Well, I guess it is time to start your reclaimed lumber hunt. By following these tips and tricks, you will be stacking old barn wood and wooden pallets in no time. Just remember to always ask for permission before loading any reclaimed wood.
Also, use extreme caution when picking through a tear-down site for boards. These sites are full of great reclaimed wood, but they are also littered with rusty nails and possibly broken glass. If the weather is warm, you will also need to be on the lookout for snakes and bees. Just go slow and use good judgment, and you will be fine.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Alan (author) from West Georgia on August 27, 2014:
Thanks for the kind words Hilaire. In my opinion, barn wood and reclaimed lumber is just as much fun to find as it is to work with.
Hillary from East Coast on August 26, 2014:
This is an excellent introduction to the method of hunting for barn wood. I am sure anyone following this advice will easily find useful reclaimed wood. The photos are gorgeous!
jtrader on April 08, 2014:
I'll keep an eye out when passing some of the places you've suggested. Good way to save and recycle.
Alan (author) from West Georgia on March 22, 2014:
Thanks for the tip, I will check out Jodah. I have always enjoyed keeping chickens as well, and that free lumber works out great for chicken coops.
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 22, 2014:
Great ideas. I just got 3 hens a few months ago and now adding two more that will need their own pad for awhile, lol, and hate to buy that lumber! I bet you would enjoy reading Jodah, many of your hubs remind me of his first ones.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 09, 2014:
Always a place to find those timbers to bur. Your suggestions are very useful.