If you’re lucky enough to live near farm country, you’re in the perfect place to start using some of the antique lumber in barnboard crafts.
There are many uses for salvaged barnboards, including barnboard benches, fencing, shelves, bird nest boxes and rustic painted signs. I hoard my precious boards - you never know when inspiration will strike. Things I've made from those old splintery boards are Garden Art Signs and Barnboard Pumpkins.
Some of my favorite haunts for finding barnboards are on back roads in out of the way rural areas, especially in the late spring.
Why then? I hear you ask.
A winter of heavy snowfall is hard on ancient old buildings; the springtime after the snow melts is when farmers or home owners are most susceptible to your suggestion that you haul the wreckage away after it collapses.
In many cases, only sentimental reasons for keeping the old buildings around prevented them from being bulldozed long since.
If you are serious about salvaging old barnboards and other rustic salvage, make sure you get there with the proper attire and tools, to prove your intentions.
Serious safety concerns arise when an old building is partially down on the ground and partly still standing. This can create a lot of stress on old boards. The structure is safer when it’s pulled over with a tractor to prevent falling objects from giving in to gravity – right when you’re underneath it.
Boards with nails in are another safety issue. Make sure you check before starting to walk on any old boards.
A good claw hammer and crowbar are essential tools for this part of the project. Always remove nails from the boards completely, putting them in a bucket or can to take away for disposal.
Stack the boards in order of size to make it easier to move them and load them on a trailer or pick up truck. If there are any really long ones, you may decide to cut them into more manageable lengths.
What to do with your precious hoard?
Storing the old barnboards is important to keep them from rotting before you get a chance to use them.
They quickly go punky and rotten if they’re exposed to wet, so under a roof of some kind will protect them the best.
Spacing them with small pieces of lath or other thin boards stacked in a ‘lift’ will allow air movement through them. Don’t simply cover them with a tarp as this won’t allow the air to circulate.
Scrutinize your barnboards thoroughly before deciding on which ones to use in your barnboard crafts. They should be straight (not warped) and sound (not rotting). Use extreme caution when cutting them especially with any power saw, as unseen metal or nails can cause a real hazard.
Don’t discard any boards with knotholes, as these can be utilized in nesting boxes provided they’re the right size.