Salvaged and reclaimed wood has become a large part of Southern Accents architectural salvage business. Travel one mile down the road from our main showroom and you will find our wood showroom, stocked floor to ceiling with a variety of salvaged wood, beadboard, trim, hand hewn beams and circular sawn materials. One of the first questions we are asked is, “where does it all come from?” While we have several sources for our salvaged wood, much of it comes from our own salvage missions. This past weekend we traveled to South Carolina to begin the process of removing wood flooring and wood joists from a house scheduled for demolition.
The process of salvaging wood from a structure is not an easy or glamorous task! Our goal is to carefully remove the wood so that it remains intact, and therefore, can be reused or repurposed. Before starting the wood salvage process, we first have to evaluate each individual room. We look at each room and try to figure out what the original builder, from 100 years ago, installed last. This “reverse building” will determine what we will today take out first. Building, just like our deconstructing, is a process. Many of the older homes have undergone renovations or room additions, so most often there are variances in the construction method from room to room. Our goal is to deconstruct each room from top to bottom, removing wood from the ceilings, walls and floors such as trim, baseboards, molding, and wainscoting.
Our days typically begin at sunrise and end late in the day. The wood has to be removed in such a way that the nails usually remain intact so that the wood does not split. Most often we are working in an environment that has been vacant for many years. As we begin pulling and cutting the wood, generations of dirt and dust are stirred into the air, filling it with a fine mist of particles that seem to quickly settle in every exposed pore of our bodies. It is a tedious process, but each and every individual piece of wood is finally pulled, removed from the house, and carefully stacked on our truck or trailer bed. By the time the wood is ready to travel back to our showroom, it has been touched numerous times. Handling each piece is also a difficult task in itself as there are rusty nails protruding from each piece.
To say that this is a “dirty job” is an understatement. It is dirty, sweaty, grimmy, back breaking labor. Housing for our SA demo team for most of our projects is an RV parked at a camp ground. Once our work day ends, we return to our camp, hit the shower and go in search of a hot meal. Even though our bodies are tired, we crack jokes on each other and pick and play just to have some fun so we can get our minds off the work that awaits us the next day.
Once our trucks and trailers are full, we begin the journey home, but the process does not end there. Upon arriving at the wood showroom, the wood is carefully unloaded. We then begin the task of de-nailing each and every piece. The wood is then sorted, according to species and size, re-stacked, labeled and prepared for sale.
The life of a junk man is not glamorous, but it is satisfying. At the end of the day, our hard work of rescuing a piece of history and then later seeing the excitement of our customers in our showroom as they select the salvaged material for their project is enough of a reward to push us to that next project!