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Working With Reclaimed Building Materials (page 1 of 2)

Learn how to refurbish old materials for use in future projects.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

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using salvaged wood is ultimate in recycling

When working on any project, consider where old materials may be reused. Lumber, and particularly structural lumber — the sort found in an old stud wall, for example — is usually suitable for reuse as long as it is sound. However, sheet materials are generally quite difficult to reuse, and drywall is hard to recycle. Wooden sheet materials may also be cut to shapes that make them unsuitable for a future project.

De-nailing Lumber

Structural lumber that you take down — such as joists — may be used in a future project, as long as it has retained its structural integrity. In many cases, the only work required is the removal of a few nails.

Use a pry bar for large nails, or a claw hammer for smaller nails, to prize them out of the surface of the wood (Image 1).

Older, rusted nails may snap off on removal. Use a hammer and punch to knock the broken shaft of the nail below the wood's surface (Image 2).

Refurbishing Floorboards

Old floorboards can break when lifted and, like other wood, are susceptible to infestation. Edges are especially prone to damage, so to make a board reusable you need to trim the edge back a little. Accuracy is required, so a circular saw or router is ideal.

Use a straight cutter and guide, or clamp a furring strip to the plank to act as a guide for the router (Image 1).

Simply run the router along the edge, trimming a few fractions of an inch (Image 2). Sanding will be required for a smooth finish.

De-rotting an Old Beam With an Axe

Old lumber often has areas of woodworm or rot. However, once the worst areas are removed, the remaining lumber is normally structurally very sound. The shapes produced can add great character to a project if beams are left exposed.

An ax or hatchet is the ideal tool for cutting along the edge of old beams to remove woodworm or rot (Image 1).

Once the worst is removed, brush down and treat the wood to protect it and kill any woodworm (Image 2).

Cleaning Bricks

After demolition, bricks may be reused, but in most cases they will need cleaning, as old mortar tends to stick to their surface. Soft mortar (lime-based) may scrape off with a trowel, but for persistent lumps, and cement-based mortars, a sledge hammer and bolster chisel will be required.

Position the brick on a flat surface and gradually knock off the mortar (Image 1). Be sure to wear protective gloves and goggles for this procedure.

Wipe off any residue with a sponge and warm water, and you will be left with bricks that are now ready for reuse (Image 2).

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Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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