There is a little known procedure that turns woodworking projects into rustic, beautiful, and unique works of art. From household furniture to common stairways to doorway trim, this unique and brilliant idea is a far cry from traditional woodworking processes. The process is to turn old barn wood into products of exceptional beauty and elegance.
The idea is the brainstorm of the Amish peoples of southeast Pennsylvania. They acquire old barns which have met their demise and are ready to be demolished. They manufacture the old wood into pieces of furniture, stairways, or trim for homes throughout the Northeast. The household works of art are delivered to wholesalers in unfinished but complete condition. The wholesalers, within their ready equipped shops, finish the products with a process that is makeshift but efficient.
As the box trucks arrive at these reseller destinations, driven by the Amish themselves clad in their straw or felt hats, space is organized for the cargo of barn wood furniture and stairways. Workers, after exchanging laughter and stories with these unique people, start the finishing process with tools that meet the task.
From sanders run by old bulky air compressors to spray booths that add a durable and lasting shine of lacquer the barn wood pieces are turned from planed and raw products into rustic but elegant pieces of beauty. The process is linear. First preparation is careful to fill holes left by the aging of the barns weathered by Northeast cold, heat, and wind. The wood is then sanded smooth erasing the unevenness while blending the seams and bringing forth the unique grain.
A simple spray from a spray nozzle inside a spray booth with ventilating fans running to protect workers from toxic fumes, seals the porous wood getting it ready for a cherry or pine wax to give it color and durability. After careful inspection for minor inconsistencies the old wood is given another spray of lacquer to finish the product and make ready for display in the showrooms.
The showrooms themselves are adorned with exquisite pieces of shining beauty. Crammed from wall to wall the rustic stairways and furniture wait only days to be picked up and driven far and wide to decorate homes owned by families of various ethnicities. The appeal of the product is a source of the various buyers that cart their wares away in everything from car trunks that hold single pieces to box trucks looking to resell to the public.
Only by word of mouth does the unique product pervade the public knowledge. Advertising is at a minimum as the wholesalers let the unique process and rustic beauty spread the word. Perusing by onlookers, fascinated by the finished product and by shear enthusiasm, gets the word out to other dealers of antiques and home décor.
From far and wide the public comes to view and purchase the furniture, stairways, door trim, and even rustic chairs. Their appearance is befitting of the appeal that draws crowds from all over the Northeast. Filling the homes throughout the countryside the finished product elaborates homes with a unique flavor. Old but beautiful, rustic but glamorous the process of turning old New England barns into works of art makes for a business that will continue to evolve as long as New England barns dot the landscape.
Arthur Salmeron is a freelance writer in Geneva, Illinois. He is an expert on architectural topics. He writes primarily about custom wood stair parts and wood stair railings.