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Background Story to How Wood With A Past was Founded

Reclaimed With A Purpose

Posted by Allen Miller on

I used to only see a barn as hard work doing the chores, putting hay and straw in the hay mow’s “upper barn,” milking the cows by hand, hauling manure, filling the corn cribs with the corn we harvested by hand. One of the things I used to really enjoy during this time was Dad would let me and my brothers raise rabbits in the corncribs and we could use his feed and we were allowed to keep the money when we would sell the rabbits at the auctions.

Dad would hitch up the horse to our buggy on Wednesdays and help my brothers and I collect our crate full of rabbits and head to the sale barn in Mount Hope or to the Horst Auction on the corner of State Route 250 and Kidron Road. If it was Easter time we could count on making top dollar on our rabbits and so we always tried to have a batch ready to go then.

We used our rabbit money to buy bigger animals like sheep and goats and would go through the whole process with them, keeping them in Dad’s barn. He provided the feed for us, the sheep and goats had babies and he would take us to the auction to sell them and we kept the profits to buy things we wanted.

As I’ve been looking back on my childhood I realize Dad set us up well, teaching us entrepreneurship long before any of us ever thought of owning our own business. He didn’t hand us baseball gloves and bats, we earned those items with our rabbit, sheep and goat money and by guiding us along he taught us valuable business concepts I still use today.

My wife and I have been trying to be “greener” after learning more about the green movement. We recycle and try to live a lifestyle that repurposes old things rather than always buy new. Barns have always been in my life, many of my childhood memories revolve around some part of the barn at home so it seems natural that my interests would turn toward reclaiming old wood and make it new again. It also goes hand in hand with my upbringing, being frugal and using up everything. We used what we had, Dad didn’t make us a rabbit pen but let us raise our rabbits in the corn crib. This also helped teach me to repurpose rather than build or buy new all the time.

The reclaimed wood industry is expanding as more people are understanding the beauty behind properly harvested wood. The green movement has made many people aware of the possibilities one can do if they think about recycling and reusing items they would normally throw away. HGTV’s The Fixer Upper Show has been great for the reclaimed wood industry and my wife and I love to watch their show for inspiration. Chip and Joanna Gaines have been pioneers in this industry and have helped all of us in the business of reclaimed wood get the word out about the beauty of this product.

When I see a forgotten old barn standing out in the middle of a field I think what all could be made from that barn. I will share with you a few items that come to mind when I see an old barn and that our company provides for our customers.

  • Barn board siding can be made into wall boards for homes. They can be styled either in shiplap or tongue and groove. Shiplap is becoming popular with shows like Fixer Upper. We can take the old barn boards and cut them with square edges and this becomes shiplap. Shiplap is often referred to as the “poor man’s tongue and groove.” We can also do the tongue and groove technique with the barn boards if that is what someone wants.
  • Hand hewn or sawn beams make great fireplace mantels. Hand hewn was a process they used before modern machinery. They would use an ax to square a log. They would take the bark off with the ax and make the log into a square with flattened surfaces. Those ax marks are what draws people to them. It creates more character for their fireplace.
  • Rafters supporting the roof can be created into beautiful tables and barn doors. (We like when they are two inches thick. This allows for planing them down and still have plenty of thickness to create our furniture or doors.) We are looking for oak wood mostly, but sometimes we use “mixed species” (a combination of different wood) to create a really interesting product.
  • Floor board is also great for creating furniture. It is a thicker wood and allows for planing and sanding down. The sky's the limit with what we can create with floorboards:
    • entertainment centers
    • coffee tables
    • organizers for mudrooms
    • Desks
    • Headboards
    • whatever else your imagination can drum up

We have many sizes one can choose from or get something custom made. If the customer can dream it up, we can usually build it.

  • 4" x 4" beams are found throughout these old barns we reclaim and can be used for table legs. It makes a chunky looking table which is the look most folks are looking for when they request a table out of reclaimed wood.

Looking back at living on the farm and the hard work that went on inside the barn to my memories of raising animals and taking my first stab at being an entrepreneur and fast forwarding to today and thinking about the process that goes into tearing down an old barn and creating new pieces it seems to me things have come full circle for me. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever thought I would one day work this closely with barns again and to take it a step further and have it be a process of making something old and ugly into something brand new and beautiful.

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