Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Story of the Old San Francisco Bay Bridge and the Lumber Reclaimed from it

One of the reasons that reclaimed lumber is so appealing is that it has unique physical properties and a rich historic value. One example of this is the reclaimed redwood material Lumber Baron was able to procure during the demolition of the Old San Francisco Bay Bridge. Not only does it have a quality which is only available in old growth lumber from the early to mid-1900’s, this redwood is a unique part of American history.


Construction of a National Landmark

Even before the 20th century, a bridge from San Francisco to Oakland was conceived as a way to connect the city with rail lines on the other side of the Bay. As the newly invented automobile became more popular, the necessity of easy transport made the bridge even more important. In 1929, the California Toll Bridge Authority was formed, and construction of the long-awaited bridge was soon to follow. The bridge was completed in November of 1936 and almost immediately became an architectural landmark.


The Old Bridge Comes Down

In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake caused extensive damage to the bridge, including the collapse of an upper section. This resulted in the construction of a new San Francisco Bay Bridge, and the damaged span began to be demolished in November of 2013. Most of the metal used in the bridge was sold as scrap metal, resulting in much of it being shipped overseas to China.


Reclaiming Historic Lumber

The lumber from the base of the bridge piers and pylons became available, and The Lumber Baron was able to reclaim significant amounts of the old growth redwood used on two of the piers. This lumber was an important form of protection for the bridge, including reducing the damages caused by the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill, when an oil tanker collided with one of the bridge’s towers.


Lumber From a Bygone Era

As a result of its old growth heritage, this lumber is knot free, and comprised of dense heartwood material. It is easily identified by the compact grain structure, unique coloration, and the strength afforded by the remarkable density of the lumber. The Lumber Baron has made this historic lumber available in several sizes, including 12” by 12”, 6” by 12”, and 1” by 12” cuts.


Repurposing American Heritage

Additionally, since The Lumber Baron is a full service lumber mill, the lumber can be milled into 2 inch slabs or custom sizes or resurfaced to meet customer specifications, making it excellent for quality countertops, furniture, and many other applications.

Whether you are interested in green building, custom beams, or unique furniture construction, The Lumber Baron’s reclaimed lumber from the San Francisco Bay Bridge Eastern span is worth looking into. Not only does this lumber have a special historical value and unique coloration which cannot be duplicated, it also represents a quality of lumber that is no longer available from today’s managed redwood forests.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Lumber Spotlight: Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar is a popular type of evergreen lumber. Even though the wood is relatively soft, old growth cuts made from cedar heartwood are nearly as dense as hardwoods, with an attractive color and grain structure. Western Red Cedar is part of The Lumber Baron’s Top 3 Lumber Products, along with Douglas Fir and Redwood.

A Sustainable Choice

Don’t be fooled by inferior western red cedar from unknown sources. Shop with a company like PEFC certification is the environmental star of excellence issued to forest management companies. At The Lumber Baron, all of our Western Red Cedar comes from PEFC sources, so you know that you are getting the best lumber from a responsible lumber mill.


Different Grades of Cedar

There are 3 grades of cedar. Each grade can be used for a variety of projects, and has it’s own unique appearance and texture. The Lumber Baron stocks all three grades, depending on market availability. Here’s what to look for:
·        Select Tight Knot - Contains some small knots. Used for both interior and exterior applications.
·        Super Select Heart - Quality cut heartwood, showing very few knots. Works well for everything from cabinets to siding.
·        Clear All Heart - This top-of-the-line grade comes from the heart of old growth timber and is free of knots and blemishes. Ideal for any construction project.


Perfect for Every Application

Western Red Cedar is durable, yet light and easy to work with. Clear and higher grades are cut from old growth heartwood, providing a more densely packed material that is resistant to rot and decay.
·        Kiln Dried Cuts - Freshly milled or milled and fired timber that has been prepared right here at our on site saw mill. All new cut Western Red Cedar comes from timber lands with PEFC certification. Available in all common 1- and 2-by sizes.
·        Beams and Timbers - For roof supports, beams and sturdy outdoor projects, Western Red Cedar is available in dimensions ranging from 4-by-4 to 12-by-12, and lengths of up to 20 feet are generally in stock. Longer pieces can be milled to your specifications.
·        Cedar Palings - Inexpensive cedar palings are sold by the bundle, and each paling is a full ¾-inch thick. That’s 50 percent thicker than buying palings of a lesser quality at the big box stores.

To get an idea of how Western Red Cedar can enhance your remodel or new build, look through our showcase of projects. Each one was completed using one or more of our featured lumber projects. Some simple carpentry skills, your imagination, and an appreciation for fine lumber are all you need to craft some exciting projects that will stand the test of time.  Stop by the lumber yard at The Lumber Baron today to see our current Western Red Cedar offerings.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lumber Spotlight: Douglas Fir

Even though it is classed as a softwood, Douglas fir is harder than many hardwoods, including chestnut. It is more robust than other types of fir, and using reclaimed Douglas fir offers appeal as well as incentive. At the Lumber Baron, we believe that understanding the qualities of the lumber you use will allow you to make the best choice of materials.

Douglas Fir at the Lumber Baron


Know Your Lumber

Not all types of fir are the same. In many instances the material being sold by large chain stores may not be a true fir at all, but a closely related species known as Western hemlock. Because this material resembles white fir, the two are often treated as a mix and match brand of fir. Do not confuse this material with Douglas fir, which is more rigid and offers greater tensile strength.


Green Building with Douglas Fir

There are incentives for using reclaimed lumber such as Douglas fir. For example, using reclaimed Douglas fir may make your project eligible for LEED credits, an international marker of sustainability and environmentally sound building practices. If you are building for a sustainable future, or want to make an environmental statement, Douglas fir and other reclaimed lumber are a great investment.


Benefits of Reclaimed Douglas Fir

Reclaimed Douglas fir has other benefits as well. Old growth Douglas fir has been used in a variety of ways, and many of those applications left telltale signs in the lumber itself. Unusual patinas, natural stains, and such notable indicators as old nail holes are only a few of the visible traces found in reclaimed lumber. If you are trying to achieve a rustic look, but still want the best lumber available, foregoing modern mill cuts in favor of reclaimed fir is a practical and appealing solution.


Building on American History

Another interesting aspect of reclaimed Douglas fir is the historical value attached to it. The Lumber Baron searches for old bridges and buildings which were built using old growth lumber and are about to be demolished. Our lumber may be from any number of sites around the nation, and includes Douglas fir taken from the Georgia Pacific Mill in Fort Bragg, the defunct International Harvester plant in Richmond, and siding with a silverish tint recovered from barns throughout the country. Using reclaimed lumber is more than environmentally sound - it is also nostalgically historic.

The Lumber Baron is your one-stop location for newly milled and reclaimed lumber in the San Francisco Bay area. We specialize in reclaimed Douglas fir, redwood and other materials originally milled from old growth forests in the 19th and 20th centuries. We even offer on site milling and surfacing, and delivery services are available.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What to Look for when Buying Reclaimed Lumber

Reclaimed lumber is an excellent building material, but you need to know what you are getting. Ask your lumber company where the wood was salvaged from, and how it was selected. The Lumber Baron wants you to be an informed customer, and we will happily take you through every step of the identification and selection process. For example, keep these key points in mind:

·        Buy from a knowledgeable company.
·        Lumber dimensions in the early 1900’s are different than those used today.
·        Inspect reclaimed material before purchasing.

Reclaimed Lumber at The Lumber Baron

Age and Environment Indicators

One of the things which sets reclaimed lumber apart is the effects of time and exposure. Reclaimed lumber from a winery tank is going to look differently than lumber from an old barn. Beams used on old bridges have tell-tale signs of exposure to water, and saltwater exposure looks different than freshwater. If you are dealing with a lumber company that does not know the history of their reclaimed lumber, talk to another company, because that history is almost as important as the type of wood.


Continuous Grain Patterns

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest and other regions provided a steady stream of large timbers. Lumber with large dimensions was cut from a single tree, and the continuous wood grain is clearly visible. Heartwood is material cut from the interior of a tree and milled without joining. It also has a dense ring structure which is often an indication of the strength and durability of the lumber.


Unique Historical Signals

Many times, reclaimed lumber will include visual clues to determine its previous use. These historical signals may be many things, including weathered nail or bolt holes, coloration related to weather, fluids, or specific climates, or even saw or milling marks. Occasionally, the ends of timbers will include brands burned into wood by the original mill where it was processed.

Whether you are looking at reclaimed redwood cut from California’s old growth forests, or reclaimed Ipe cut during expansion projects in South America, each piece of material has its own story to tell. At The Lumber Baron, we take pride in the wood we sell, and much of our reclaimed lumber is hand-selected to make sure that only the best material is ever offered to our customers. Unlike large hardware stores, we specialize in high quality new and old growth wood, right down to providing on-site milling to meet customer specifications. We invite you to visit our lumber yard today, and we will show you first hand what to look for.