A Guide to Lumber

There are a few of our favorite woods...

Midwest Barn

 “In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike.  And no two journeys along the same path are alike.” - Paulo Coelho

We started our company using barn wood from the Midwest after moving back home to Michigan for a moment.  Midwest barns are some of the oldest structures in the United States.  Some of the buildings we salvaged, have come from pre-civil war era.  You do the math!  And what’s even more impressive, is when these properties were built they were all made from old growth trees which were between 400-500 years old before they were even cut down.  These landmarks have been made by the large trees that once stood tall in the pasture.  When a family decided to build their barn and homestead, they would clear the forest of the trees and use those to build it with.  Most of these communities were Amish made communities.  They had no machinery, but some axes and sometimes a steam saw.  The steam saw would help speed up the milling process to those who were privileged to obtain one.  The rough chop marks you see on old barn wood (we call it rough sawn), was because these men would push the wood too quickly through the saw and it would leave those markings.  Back then they saw it as a flaw in the wood, and now we see it and it resonates in our souls of the significance in American History.  Proud.  The people who couldn’t afford the luxury of a steam saw or sawmill to shape the logs, would do it all by the use of hand tools such as axes and chisels, which would take hours if not days.  We now call these remarkable art pieces Hand Hewn beams.  Which are HEAVY from the outside to the center of the hard core, which is definitely hardcore…  The reason we choose to use this sustainable material is because it is the strongest and most durable you can get in the country.  The craftsmanship you can provide by hand crafting goods with old growth will last forever and also become those family heirloom pieces.  And that is always something we can stand behind! 

OAK

There are 500 species of Oak in the world and 90 of the species are found in America!  What most people refer to these are either White Oak or Red Oak. But in the Midwest alone, there are several - Black Oak, Bur Oak & Pin Oak to name a few.  That being said, let us explain to you what we mean by Red Oak and White Oak.

RED OAK: 

  • Characteristics - Pale reddish brown tones, sometimes can be a very faint pinkish tone.  Sapwood gets darker in tone.  Because of these awesome features in this vintage wood, you have about a 10% variance in tone as well as the grain which produces a product full of character & charm!  
  • Uses - Because it is heavy, hard and stiff and also has high shock resistance, it is great for building any furniture and joinery pieces with including shelving and vanities.  It also holds up well for exterior uses like paneling and decking.  Stains really well offering a unique sometimes natural cerused look in the tight grain. 
  • Design Trend - Obviously this red head was very popular in the 70’s-90’s era before it started to lose popularity.  Now as we see freckles coming back to the spotlight sun, we see a lot of people using it in new Midcentury Modern inspired designs and homes.  Here at R.A.D, we pride ourselves on not delivering to you what you would call “Grandpa’s Furniture”, but instead a new modern twist on the greatest era ever!  
  • Personality - Cyndi Lauper

WHITE OAK:

  • Characteristics - Light brown tones, which we sometimes say “warm honey tones” or “cocoa butter” tones to explain color.  Sapwood gets paler in tone.  Because of how tall and old white oak trees get, you will get the varying knot holes occasionally as well as the 10% fluctuation in hue which produces a very natural, organically grounded feeling.
  • Uses - Because white oak has tyloses (what are tyloses?  They are ballon-like swellings or projections that fill the vessels closing the cellular structure), this makes it water and rot resistant.  This is why they are used to make wine and whiskey barrels as it prevents leaking.  This makes great beautiful flooring, especially in homes with a lot of humidity, obviously it creates one-of-a-kind furniture and can be used for outdoor purposes like doors, pergolas, and even works beautifully for facia on your home.
  • Design Trend - It’s everywhere! Brown is always down to inspire a statement of class and a sense of timelessness with its old world charm.  It will always remain and always have a modern new life feeling to it giving it that ever flowing wave of hope and peace. Try not and get addicted to our white oak selection… (*As seen in Amber Lewis’s home renovation and featured in Architectural Digest magazine)
  • Personality - Jacqueline Kennedy

BEECHWOOD:

Unlike its North American friend, Oak, with 500 sisters and brothers, Mr. Canada only has about 10 family members.  Known as being the cousin of the Maple family with the nutrient rich syrup it produces, it definitely sweetens things up.  Due to their large size and wide, low-growing branches, Beechwood are perfect shade trees which many people have loved taking naps under.  

  • Characteristics - Typically a pale cream color, sometimes with a pinkish brown hue.  Grain pattern is mostly straight with slight swirls of gumminess intermittently. We sometimes call it the Blondie.  And this blonde sporadically likes to get a pink highlight in her hair and show it off from time to time. Knot holes can be a little more common and the old remains of powderpost beetle holes are sprinkled here or there.  Same as other reclaimed wood, this gives the 10% flow of color and pattern. 
  • Uses - As it is considered to be a medium-hardwood, it tends to be softer than a typical hardwood.  That being said, it is never recommended for outdoor use unless you want to go for that complete rustic farmhouse vibe!  Good for veneers, flooring, musical instruments and furniture pieces. 
  • Design Trend - If Elsa and Anna were to build their dream Scandinavian castle, they would probably use Beech and let it flow.  Its creamy tones offer a beautiful look of elegance, while still giving a little bit of youthful spirit.  Someone who doesn’t want to just go with the trend, but make a statement of their own and break up the monotony.  This wood practices kindness while setting boundaries. (*As seen in Emily Hendersons Mountain Fixer and featured in House Beautiful magazine)
  • Personality - Kristen Bell