Reclaimed wood has become a buzzword lately, but long before people re-used lumber for its carbon footprint connotations farmers were reusing lumber from older barns for new structures.. I’ve seen many old barns with empty mortise holes in beams and other tell tale signs of this habit of re-purposing wood. This common sense Yankee practice has been around for hundreds of years and was naturally employed by the frugal New England farmer. Mainers have a way of finding a use for things thought worthless by others. It is for this reason I am proud to keep alive the tradition reclaiming lumber for use in another form
Live edge or natural edge wood is lumber in its simplest form. It is the most basic form of sawn wood being a simple cross section of a tree that exposes heart and sapwood as well as bark. So much perspective and relationship to the tree itself is lost when the bark is cut off and the wavy edges of the tree are straitened to make dimensioned lumber. This is why I prefer to use live edge wood in my tables in order to highlight the character of the trees I use.
When making log furniture I use poles of white and red pine. I find these trees in overgrown stands of several hundred trees fighting for sunlight. Planted close together in old fields decades earlier, these trees grow tall and strait competing for sunlight. Being tall and skinny they tend to break off near their tops leaving the rest of the pole to the elements. The bark then falls off the tree and insects leave interesting trails in the wood. These stands, often planted among old rock walls after farming was no longer economical provide more clues to Maine’s agrarian past.