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Oak beams

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marcros

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If I were to spindle turn some old oak barn beams (which I don't currently have), and in doing so remove all of the surface wood that had been seen before or exposed to the atmosphere, would I be able to tell the difference between that and new seasoned oak turning blanks?
 

MusicMan

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From my experience restoring old oak furniture (involving cutting and planing 250 yr old wood on occasion), I would say not, if the moisture contents are similar. Of course, this has been kept dry or in a shed. The exception could be if the old beams had been kept wet or had partially rotted (spalted), when I could not say anything from experience.
 

Jacob

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I've seen a lot of old oak structural timber and it tends to go dark chocolate brown.
 

MikeG.

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You will be able to tell the difference. It will be darker, but especially so around any shakes or mortices.
 

El Barto

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As above, having worked on some old oak barns, the greyish surface colour soon disappears and you're left with a rich brown in my experience.
 

AJB Temple

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My experience of old oak (which includes buying very old timber frames and re-erecting) is that you can get very variable colour from beige, through honey brown, dark brown to almost black. I've no idea why that should be. Once you get past any surface crumble, it can also be very hard indeed and tough on edge tools.
 

marcros

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thanks everybody. I have a little project to do which will use a few feet of oak beams or blanks. I may try a beam to see whether it is worth the additional work involved in detailing, cleaning up etc. I do like the idea of reclaiming timber where possible, particularly where it gives an interesting effect.
 

Spence

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On small items like Pens you may not notice but I made some bowls from an old mantle piece that had been hewn and shaped with an adze or something. Anyway, it was very dry and the growth rings were similar but more dense than the oak I had worked before. I got 12 small bowls from a beam and about 5 big bags of shavings!
 

MikeG.

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Just a little terminological intervention if I may. It's not a beam unless it is fitted in a horizontal position and sitting on top of posts. If it's just a loose piece of timber kicking around a building site or woodyard it's usually just called by its dimensions.......eg 200x200 or 6x9 or whatever.
 

TFrench

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Empirical data:
These are turned from reclaimed beams from a pub round the corner from me that was demolished last year. The one on the left was treated with dark oak osmo, the right has nothing as yet, just wire brushed to get the worst of the dust off it.


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