Reclaimed barnwood is nice in a rustic kitchen.
1. EARLY PREPARATION
American reclaimer Jesse Benedict (barnwoodkitchencabinets.com) dismantles antique barns to preserve them or reclaim their lumber. Each piece is carefully labeled. Benedict says reclaimed wood from barns works well in any rustic setting. For kitchens, he selects only sturdy, tight-grained boards to use in face frames and door stiles and rails; drawer fronts and panels, held in place, may be made of lesser boards. He chooses boards with character: wide grain patterns, deeply weathered grooves, knots, and even holes from nails or pitchforks.
When a barn is disassembled, boards are de-nailed on site with the help of a metal detector. Wood is sprayed with boric acid to rid it of bugs and mold, then kiln-dried to a 9-10% moisture content, not lower.
2. CONSTRUCTION POINTS
Cabinets in the Norwegian cabin include a combination of base units and open shelves. Thick, 1.5–2" barnwood was used for the shelving—dried, sanded, and finished with the original unmilled edge. Floorboards with heavy patina from old haymows and threshing floors work best for open shelves. Lower base cabinets were made from a solid wood ¾ " box, then faced with ¾ " barnwood that was backplaned to the same thickness as the doors and drawers. Cabinets are usually finished with flush inset doors and drawers for a vintage look, but full overlays can also be built. Cabinets are screwed together, not nailed, for sturdiness.
3. FINISHES & CARE
Putting a finish on barnwood isn’t easy. Polyurethane on any surface that has
weathered grey will turn an unpleasant black color. A low-VOC, two-part conversion varnish here was floated onto the surface, then baked into the wood before cabinet construction, creating a crystal-clear finish that preserves the natural, silvery grey of the weathered wood. Recommended cleaning is with diluted mild soap and water, avoiding oils and most modern formulations.
A NOTE ON COST:
It’s obviously variable, but assume raw, unfinished barnwood purchased direct at $4–5.50 per square foot. Simple, finished cabinets cost about $180 per linear foot.
TOP An unused, dilapidated Pennsylvania barn will be recycled as paneling, cabinets, and flooring.
ABOVE Barnwood with nails removed, stacked and awaiting new uses.