Old growth milling for library shelves

About the same time as the idea of a library emerged, I learned about the value of old growth lumber and how it is sought after by furniture makers. Old growth lumber was harvested from pre-settlement forests and has beautiful dense grain. It was also milled to different dimensions. For instance, old growth two by four studs do actually measure two by four inches.

Because our house was built in 1902, all the original framing was old growth. Some of that old growth had to be replaced during our deep-energy retrofit. I did, however, made sure to hold on to all the old growth material we removed because it was the perfect source material for our library.

I did not plan to build the library shelves out of two by four studs! That would look a little bit to clunky for our taste. Instead my plan was to mill the old growth into the right sized pieces which we could glue into boards and use for shelving.

But there was a science to the milling. With the help of friends, I learned a lot about wood grain and different wood cuts. For instance, a rift and/or quarter sawn cut would give us the most beautiful grain structure and deliver dimensionally stable lumber.

Prior to running the old growth across the table saw we looked at the end grain of each stud to determine how best to cut it to get a rift or quarter sawn cut.

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About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

One thought on “Old growth milling for library shelves

  1. I had never before even thought about that there are different ways to grind a tree into board and beams!
    Really interesting to learn more on the subject, great link you included.

    But I have to admit that I can hardly wait to see the next step and of course the final result!

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