Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Reclaimed Lumber

I have been seeing more and more posts and online shops that feature "reclaimed lumber" or note that the wood came from a pallet.  I know the fad that is going on to use pallets and aged lumber in furniture.  Some people like that look, it is not me.  I am nervous how popular it is getting and I am seeing it marketed in toys.  There are two definitions that everyone needs to know about wood products.  The first is "Sustainable Wood."  This is wood that comes from a managed forest and does not promote deforestation.  The other is "Reclaimed Wood."  This is wood that has been used and is being reused into something else.  Both sound great and reduces landfill and waste.
Most of the time if a company is using sustainable wood, they will promote it.  It is virgin lumber and clean.  Reclaimed wood is a different story.  This comes from some other project that had wood in it, such as pallets, furniture, and old structures.  In furniture, reclaimed wood is completely acceptable, in toys it can be toxic.
Clean, virgin wood can cost some money so people are looking at cheaper solutions to cut down on their material costs and they do this through reclaimed wood.  Free and discounted wood is great but it comes with a cost.  Lets start with the most common of the reclaimed wood: the pallet.  No one really knows what has been put on the pallet or leaked out on a pallet.  Most pallets are also heat treated which can induce chemicals.  There is absolutely no way to know if pallet wood is child safe.  I would go as far to say that pallet wood is 100% not good for kids.
The second popular form of reclaimed wood is reusing old furniture.  This is not a bad source of wood.  Most of these have had some sort of paint, stain, or sealer on it.  Sure it can be planed it off and look like bare wood.  I don't know how far chemicals can leech into wood.  Again I would not buy anything that a kid could put in their mouth made from this wood source either.  The older, sturdier furniture might have had a coat of lead finish put on it.
I have nothing against reclaimed wood.  I use it occasionally when it is available to me.  I make decorations, furniture, or fixtures. It does not go into toys.
I know that there is a market for all natural toys free of stain and chemicals.  It is also a desire to save the environment and recycle, reuse, and re-purpose.  When it comes to toys and kids buy from sustainable wood products not from reclaimed.

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