Board Whisperer: Crafting Reclaimed Rafters into Flooring

Making reclaimed flooring is difficult and not for amateurs. The trades required are, in part, curator, board whisperer, historian, vintner, and of course, master woodworker.

The master woodworkers at Heppner Hardwoods will repurpose vintage boards into flooring, paneling, table-tops and architectural millwork from salvaged:

  • Barn Siding
  • Circle/Band Sawn or Hand Hewn Sleeper Beams
  • Circle Sawn or Hand Hewn Ceiling Beams
  • Old Boards
  • Trusses
  • Cooperages and Brewing Warehouses

Ceiling Beam

Reclaimed Ceiling/Rafter Beams often end up on the floors in modern kitchens or great rooms. One might say that the repurposing of the overhead ceiling beams to floor boards are a lightning-rod for this retro reincarnation. The size and soundness of the 19th century purlins, truss & tie beams, rafters, and the large connecting ties are a prime size for the scope of our modern 21st century dwellings. More specifically, the soundness and size of these beams are ideal for making them into wide plank engineered floors. Structural support beams are suspended above the damp ground elements that are often associated with foundation boards. As such, the rafter  beams are far less susceptible to dry rot. As we have mentioned previously in our Board Whisperer series, much of the rich patina found in reclaimed foundation boards, come from  direct contact of soil and damp alkaline leaching or wicking into them. This is especially true of centuries old barns and out buildings that had housed livestock.

Some of the characteristics of real reclaimed wood ceiling beams:

  • American Species: Readily available Red and White Oak. Chestnut, Hickory, Cherry, and Walnut, when available
  • Four sided, hand hewn with a broad axe, adze or hatchet
  • Sawn beams, saw marks ranging from vertical, band or circular saw
  • Mortise and tenon joints
  • Marriage marks, carpenter’s marks, scribe marks, insect tracts, nail holes, and cracking
  • Sentiment; made up of grit, character and love for family and country

Another piece of date stamping for barn wood might be evidenced by the presence of lightning-rods. A barn fire can be devastating and the heat produced by stored hay was known to attract lightning.  In the past, the barn was justifiably the largest, tallest, and most important building on the farm. To the early settlers, survival depended on whether they could, not only raise enough crops during the summer, but successfully store it for usage throughout the long winter. The need for protecting Americans’ livelihood resulted in hundreds of companies manufacturing lightning rods and brightly colored glass balls which were sold by salesman, traveling in horse-drawn wagons from farm to farm. Consider that if it were not for lightning rods, there may not be many barns left to be dismantled or to be protected by historical societies.

Barn 3

Some of the characteristics of Heppner Hardwoods real reclaimed flooring:

    • Offered in Solid and Engineered; standard ⅝” or  ¾” thickness; Standard 4 mm or 7mm wear layer. Suggested widths are 8″,10″ & 12″ or any fixed widths of your choice.  Standard lengths are random 3′ – 12′, longer as requested
    • Distinctions tailored to customer specification for;  weathered boards, insect tracks, nail holes, cracks, pith, mortise pockets, smooth surface, whip sawn.
    • Kiln Dried to constant M C 8% +/- 2%; Fumigated in Azusa CA
    • Precision machined to (+)/-0.2mm tolerances in Azusa CA milling factory.
    • Custom finishing available
    • Lighting Rods and yarns are optional.

Engineered platform is 9 plys of Baltic Birch , NAUF exterior glue rated FSC® Certified plywood. Reclaimed products may qualify for LEED MR4. FSC® Certified Baltic Birch plywood now qualifies for LEED points. Additionally, through our own in house eco-systems, such as recycling of our sawdust, energy maximizing, up-cycling, we subscribe to the Life Cycle Assessments as a closed loop system. LCA is replacing the prescriptive approach to material selection, which assumes that certain prescribed practices (such as specifying products with recycled content, Green, CARB, etc) are better for the environment regardless of the product’s manufacturing process or disposal. Heppner Hardwoods strives to achieve the best practices through sustainable manufacturing processes, maintaining American jobs and human rights.

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