Creative woodcrafters and hobbyists alike have turned to alternative sources for the rare wood and sweet deals they crave. We support this trend — it brings recycling and a certain amount of free-thinking to woodworking. Lately, we’ve heard this question a lot: How much should I pay for this recycled wood from old barns or 100-year-old houses?
The quick answer is, it’s worth as much as you’re willing to pay for it. Sure, you can weigh in a few factors, such as, what are you looking to do with the wood? But when it comes right down to it, you must decide whether or not a crossbeam from an old barn in Quaker country is worth as much as your first car.
There are two basic schools of thought here. The first is the bargain-hunter — we use that term with as much affection as possible, as we normally fall into that category ourselves. These guys want good wood for less cash than retail and are willing to look in odd places to get it. The other is the treasure-hunter: the guy who simply must have that pile of 80-year-old barn slats, because the dining room table he’ll make from them will put a big smile on his wife’s face. Both guys, looking at the same wood, will value the stock differently; and the party selling it will undoubtedly have a third value in mind.
Keep your project and purpose in mind, and make sure you know the going rates for retail wood and other antique wood, before diving into a custom deal. Check your local outlets, and talk to other woodcrafters in your area. A deal might be sitting right under your nose. Most of all, remember that if someone values their stock above your budget, there are other deals out there. Don’t feel bad about it — find another source.