Consider Using Reclaimed Wood in Your Home

Custom Reclaimed Tables and Islands
Reclaimed Oak Island Top

Regardless of whether you have an older home or are building a brand-new one, reclaimed wood is an excellent architectural and décor accent that can add personality, interest, and uniqueness to your abode. But what exactly is reclaimed wood? Loosely defined, it’s wood that has been used in previous building or woodworking projects, and it’s often found at recycling centers, at the junkyard, from properties with old or demolished buildings, or even online.

A word of caution, though: with the explosion in popularity of reclaimed wood, growing demand has also caused a surge in reclaimed lumber from questionable sources that are of low quality. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for – and to go through a reputable dealer you can trust, such as Bingham Lumber. If you happen to have your own source for reclaimed wood, here are some helpful tips for choosing good wood: 

  • Make sure the wood is dry and tight. Damp or degraded wood are signs that it is less than optimal and no amount of sanding and refinishing is going to fix that.
  • Make sure the wood is stable. Check for things like soft or moldy spots and active insect holes.
  • Have a good idea of what you’re looking for. Want a western, frontier effect? Look for rougher, weathered reclaimed barn wood. Attempting a softer, antique look? Select gently worn, smoother wood, such as reclaimed hardwood flooring.
  • Be safety-conscious. Some reclaimed wood has old nails, screws, and bits of wire still embedded in it. Be sure to carefully examine your wood and remove any potentially-dangerous items. Old paint could contain lead that should be carefully removed.

Once you have your reclaimed wood in hand, here are 8 ways you can incorporate it into your home to create a variety of different effects:

  1. Kitchen island paneling Center islands can be functional and fashionable. Use reclaimed wood to cover the sides of your kitchen island and dramatically change the appearance of what is probably the most popular room in your home. 
  2. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets Similar in effect as covering a center island, cabinets faced with reclaimed wood oozes rustic charm. Add simple, iron knobs or pulls to complete the look. 
  3. Room accent wall Reclaimed wood with distinctive markings such as knots, a deep grain, and contrasting visual textures can complement all kinds of furniture and turn a room from drab to dramatic. Makes a great backdrop for a bed or sofa.
  4. Exterior siding This requires just the right structure, but exterior siding reclaimed from old barn siding can be used just like traditional wood siding. This might work best for a rustic summer home in the woods or mountains, a small getaway cabin, or even a backyard shed. 
  5. A western bar Forget tiki-, Vegas- or sports-themed bars – a walkup bar with rustic hand-hewn beams and reclaimed wood cabinets and paneling creates an authentic western feel that’s just right for conjuring up images of thirsty cowboys ponying up to the bar for a drink. 
  6. Built-in beds Make simple, solid platform beds with drawers underneath for durable, cost-efficient sleeping space in a kid’s bedroom or guest room. 
  7. Wood beam accents Reclaimed structural beams can add sturdy charm as a fireplace mantel, a base for mounting ceiling lights and, in the right situation, a structural element for a weight-bearing wall and ceiling or roof beam. 
  8. Stairway accent Many homeowners like to hang photos or artwork on stairway walls – but why put them on a boring painted wall when you can give them a dramatic backdrop with reclaimed wood paneling?

 Learn more about these and other tips for using reclaimed wood in and around your home – better yet, stop by Bingham Lumber and talk with our helpful reclaimed wood experts.

How to Build Regulation Cornhole Set

While the pandemic has certainly curtailed many social activities and trapped people in their homes for weeks, even months, almost everyone has heard of the game of “cornhole.” Over the past few years it has taken backyards, playgrounds, recreation centers, campgrounds, and beaches by storm.

But just in case you’ve somehow missed all the hubbub about cornhole, here’s a quick summary of the game, according to the American Cornhole Organization (ACO – yes, there is such a thing): 

“Cornhole or Corn Toss is similar to horseshoes except you use 2 wooden boxes called cornhole platforms or boards and corn bags instead of horseshoes and metal stakes. The boards are placed 27 feet apart, from front edge to front edge. Contestants take turns pitching their corn bags at the cornhole platform until a contestant reaches the score of 21 points. A corn bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the platform scores 1 point. Scoring can be fast and the lead may change hands several times in a match before the winner is decided. The game is generally played tournament style with an individual or team being named the champion at the end of the tournament.” 

The game has become so popular, it might be hard to find a game set to buy. Fortunately, we’re going to share instructions for building your own so you can be the neighborhood hero. You’ll first need a few materials: 

  • (2) 24″ x 48″ pieces of 1/2″ plywood for the surface
  • (4) 2×4 x 48″ for the frame
  • (4) 2×4 x 21″ for the frame
  • (4) 2×4 x 11-1/2″ for the legs
  • 1-lb. box of 1-5/8″ deck screws
  • 1-lb. box of 3″ deck screws
  • (4) 1/2″ x 4″ carriage bolts with (4) washers and (4) wing nuts
  • wood putty
  • exterior-grade paint
  • primer 

You’ll also need some tools: 

  • jigsaw
  • measuring tape
  • compass
  • drill with drill bit and Phillips-head screw bit
  • 1/2″ drill bit
  • clamps
  • circular saw
  • random orbit sander
  • paint roller 

The ACO states that platforms must be a 48″ x 24″ rectangle made from 1/2-inch plywood. The front of the platform stands 2-1/2 to 4 inches tall and the back of the platform sits 12 inches off the ground. The plans for this project follow those requirements. 

Now you’re ready to begin building: 

  1. Construct the platforms

Cut the plywood into two 2’ x 4’ sections and the 2x4s to the length specified. Use 3″ screws to fasten the 2x4s into a box with the 21-inch pieces inside the 48-inch pieces to form a 2’ x 4’ box. Lay the plywood on top of the box, use the plywood to square up the 2×4 frame. Fasten the plywood onto the frame with 1-5/8” screws. 

  1. Cut and fit the legs

Cut a 2×4 to 11-1/2” for the four legs. Make a full 3-1/2″ radius cut on one end of each leg. To make the cut, measure 1-3/4″ down the length of the 2×4 and draw a line across it. Place a compass point centered on that line then draw the arc. Use a jigsaw to make the cut. Turn the box upside down; lay a leg parallel, flush up against one of the top corners with the radius side in the corner. Clamp into place. From inside the box, mark the center of the 2×4 vertically inside the radius. Drill a 1/2″ hole through the side of the box and the support leg. 

  1. Attach the legs

Install the carriage bolt through both holes and attach with a washer and a wing nut. Check for operation — see if the legs fold up and down inside of the platform. Adjust the radius top if it makes contact anywhere (use a sander to do this). 

  1. Cut the leg ends

To cut the angle on the bottom of the leg, turn the box right-side up and set it on a worktable with the legs tucked under. Place a block (or anything that will hold it up) under the box so that the back of the platform is 12 inches off the tabletop. Slide the box to the edge of the table, pull down the leg closest to the edge so that it hangs just over the table edge. Using the tabletop as a guide, draw a straight line across the bottom of the 2×4. Repeat for the opposite side. Cut the ends off using a circular saw. 

  1. Cut the cornholes

To find the center point for the hole, mark 9″ down from the top and 12″ in from each side on both platforms. Use a compass to mark a 6″ diameter circle around the spot that you marked. Pre-drill a hole along the edge of the circle large enough to accept the jigsaw blade. Remove the drill and use a jigsaw to cut out the circle. Sand the edges of the hole smooth. 

  1. Sand and paint

Sand the entire board and around all edges, including inside the circle. Putty all screw holes. Prime the entire box and re-sand when dry. Wipe clean with light, damp cloth, and paint with an exterior-grade paint (we used a high-gloss). Decorate to your liking — we painted standard triangles on our boards from the hole down to both corners. To do this, stretch blue painter’s tape in the shape you want, and paint the desired area. 

  1. Make your bags

To make the cornhole beanbags, sew four 6-inch by 6-inch bags from durable fabric — such as duck canvas — in the color of your choice. Then sew another four bags in a contrasting color. Fill each bag with 15 to 16 ounces of hard corn kernels or a synthetic substitute of roughly the same density. Then sew the open seams closed. 

There, you’re all done! You’re now ready to play cornhole with family and friends. Have fun!

How to Replace a Threshold

Here in New England weather is a serious factor that affects the exteriors of our homes, especially windows and doors – openings that, if not maintained, can allow water to infiltrate the structure. One key component of all exterior doors is the threshold. Now this may sound old-timey, but “threshold” is simply a term for the structural transition that is part of the doorway over which the door swings. It separates the interior floor from the outside and helps make entry smoother while keeping weather out. 

In an older home an exterior threshold is often constructed with a sturdy hardwood such as oak to handle a lot of abuse from foot traffic and weather — but it can only withstand so much. If your threshold is in rough shape, it’s probably time to replace it. 

Installing a new threshold and sill will take between two and three hours. Protect your floors with a drop cloth before you begin, and make sure you’re comfortable with basic carpentry skills.  

Here are ten basic steps for replacing an old wooden threshold:

  • Remove the old threshold from the doorway using a hammer and reciprocating saw.
  • Use reciprocating saw to cut the nails securing toekick; remove toekick.
  • Test-fit new threshold in doorway.
  • Build up toekick and subfloor with pressure-treated lumber; re-install toekick.
  • Apply a bead of tri-polymer caulk to the joint between the finished floor and new threshold.
  • Install new threshold, then tap shims underneath.
  • Close the door and check for an even gap along the threshold.
  • Open the door, and apply expanding polyurethane sealant under the threshold.
  • Close the door, then tap shims between door bottom and top of threshold; leave shims in place until the sealant cures.
  • Sand threshold, then finish with an exterior paint or stain and topcoat that contains a ultra-violet protector. 

Most exterior thresholds also have a sill beneath them. If the threshold is rotted, the sill probably is, too. The sill is beveled on one side to drain water away from the house. It fits tightly between wall studs and under the jambs and casing, so it has to be cut before it can be removed.

At Bingham Lumber, we have all the materials you’ll need to renovate your entryway, making it look better and protect your home better from the elements. For a closer look at replacing a wood threshold, check out this video.

Create a DIY Mini-Greenhouse with Recycled Windows

With so many of us spending more time at home these days, you might be looking for a fun, easy-to-do project for yourself that can even involve your kids and get you outdoors and growing things. A tiny, do-it-yourself greenhouse made from recycled windows will add some color and a little whimsy to your backyard while encouraging you to do some gardening that’s also fun and productive. 

Start by collecting some old windows. You may already have some lying around in the basement, garage, or backyard shed that can be repurposed for your greenhouse. No old windows on hand? Try a yard or garage sale, ask friends and family, or try your local recycling center – it’s usually not too hard to find the odd window or two in a variety of places.

Follow these simple steps to build your greenhouse in no time: 

  • Check your windows for old lead paint using a lead paint test kit, clean them up a bit, maybe repaint them, or leave them as is for a more antique, distressed look
  • Screw some 1”x4” inch lumber cut to size onto the bottoms of three windows to create a sturdy base ledge around the bottom of your greenhouse
  • Attach three windows together using L-brackets to create the three walls
  • Attach the fourth window with hinges to create a door – vintage hardware will add a more antique look
  • Add a doorknob or other handle – if you’re going for the antique look, an old cut-glass doorknob would be perfect
  • Assemble an A-frame roof using 2”x2” pine lumber screwed together
  • Use recycled decorative tin or other flexible sheet metal to add a roof
  • Add shelf brackets or hangers inside for flower pots and planters
  • Mount your greenhouse to an old table with screws – paint to match if desired
  • You’re done!

Now all you have to do to get your garden started is select some beautiful flowering plants that like the sun. You could even add herbs and vegetables to supplement your summer meals. Check out this short DIY Network video to see how quickly and easily your greenhouse can come together.

Learning New Skills: Woodworking Projects for Kids

There is an upside to having to spend time at home with kids during the current coronavirus pandemic – you have the opportunity to spend some quality time with them and help them learn new skills, such as woodworking. There are hundreds of simple, easy-to-do woodworking projects that kids can tackle mostly – if not entirely — by themselves. A few might require an adult to step in and provide some assistance, especially if there is a power tool involved. But for the most part, kids can get the chance to measure and cut wood; hammer, glue, or screw parts together; learn how to use paint or stain; and end up making a useful, even fun product for themselves or someone they love. 

 Here are three kid-friendly woodworking projects that are perfect for a wide range of youngsters:

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DIY Decorating Ideas: Turning Old Windows into New Decor

With a history dating back over 400 years, New England has no shortage of old things, including many old buildings full of beautiful, high quality architectural items such as wide-plank flooring, wonderfully distressed barn siding, massive beams and other elements that can be put to good use in new, renovated, and restored homes. 

One element in particular often gets overlooked when people salvage materials from old buildings – windows. This is a shame because windows are highly useful, versatile features that can be repurposed for almost unlimited new uses.

Here are just a few basic window-repurposing ideas that can be simple and easy DIY projects for homeowners of all skill level:

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Bright Ideas for Using Reclaimed Wood in Home Renovation

Reclaimed Antique Oak Island TopRenovating an older home can be a daunting task, but if you’ve been blessed with ownership of a house built in the late 19th or early 20th century – such as an old farmhouse or country home – you have the opportunity to update it while reinforcing the charm and old-timey look of wood that is no longer available in the modern lumber industry.

Beautiful old wood detailing such as tongue-and-grove ceilings, wide plank flooring, exposed support beams, and horizontal lapboard siding, can often be restored to its original splendor with just a good cleaning, light sanding, and a transparent finish to bring out the inherent character of the wood or a fresh coat of paint to brighten it up.

Wood that has suffered over the years can be replaced with reclaimed and recycled wood harvested from old buildings slated for demolition. In fact, a lot of reclaimed wood not being used for flooring can often be left pretty much alone, except for the previously-mentioned cleaning, and be used in a variety of new roles, such as cabinetry, wall paneling, and accent pieces. Even mismatched pieces can be used as decorative paneling and kitchen island construction, creating a dramatic, creative statement that complements your home.

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Simple Farmhouse Window Treatments and Other Reclaimed Wood DIY Projects

Reclaimed Antique Oak Island Top
Reclaimed Oak Island top

Reclaimed wood from old barns, houses, and other structures has become popular for a number of good reasons – it’s a great way to reuse a valuable resource; old wood is often of higher quality than modern, new lumber; and every piece of reclaimed wood has a unique character and look from wear and tear, to name a few.

While reclaimed barnboard, paneling, and flooring are favorites for bigger projects such as antique hardwood floors and accent walls, it’s also ideal for smaller, do-it-yourself projects regardless of your woodworking skill level.

For example, an old, weathered plank makes a perfect farmhouse-style window treatment. Simply select a piece that appeals to you, such as one from our reclaimed wide plank paneling, cut it to fit over your window, screw it into place, and attach evenly-spaced 1¼” vinyl-coated cup hooks to hang a sheer tab curtain. Then tie or drape your curtains to suit your taste and room décor. It’s that easy!

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How to Hang Solid Wood Floating Shelves

Floating wood shelves are a sleek, modern way to showcase beautiful wood while providing a very utilitarian way to display and store items. Featuring hidden shelf brackets that fit snugly and securely into a wall stud and holes drilled into the shelf, floating shelves are relatively easy to install with a few common tools and some accurate measuring.

Start with a piece of solid wood at least one inch thick and five inches deep. Here at Bingham Lumber we have plenty of beautiful, reclaimed lumber from old barns and houses that would make ideal floating shelving that’s practical and attractive for any room. Depending on the length of the shelf, you’ll need at least two floating shelf brackets, available in just about any hardware store for less than ten dollars a pair.

Other tools and materials needed include:

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Wood Floors and Radiant Heat

Underfloor heating, known as radiant heating, is a type of heating system (as the name implies) that is installed under flooring, eliminating the need for unsightly radiators or warm air ducting that must be cut into ceilings, walls, and floors. Radiant heating may be either hydronic (water/fluid flowing through pipes) or electric (electric resistance heating elements).

The comfort level of the floor surface is the key to determining what temperature is necessary to achieve proper comfort. Building occupants – especially homeowners who might be more inclined to walk around without shoes — may feel uncomfortable with floor surfaces that are too warm or too cool.

To provide adequate comfort, many factors must be taken into account, including the size of the room, the construction of the home, R-value of the windows, HVAC systems, the number and age of the occupants, and the interior finishes that may be directly affected by these requirements.

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Happy 250th Birthday, Brookline!

Nissitissit Covered Bridge in Brookline, NH

This year marks the 250th anniversary of our great little town, Brookline, New Hampshire. Although, we weren’t always Brookline – when the town was first chartered back in 1769, it was named Raby by New Hampshire Governor John Wentworth after his English cousin, the 4th Earl of Strafford and Baron of Raby Castle.

Almost thirty years later the town was renamed Brookline at the suggestion of a highly imaginative leading citizen originally hailing from Brookline, Massachusetts. Consistent with a trend that existed throughout New England since it was first settled, newly established towns and villages were often named for the place from which the settlers came, sometimes – in a fit of creativity – adding “New” to it, such as New Braintree, Massachusetts and New Britain, Connecticut. In this case, it took almost three decades for someone to make the suggestion to name Brookline after Brookline MA.

And while Bingham Lumber isn’t 250 years old (yet) we have a historic past, too. Our owner, Tom Bingham, is the latest in a long line of lumbermen in his family. His great grandfather and great uncle owned a wood-turning and custom wood shop and both his grandfathers owned sawmills. The second Bingham generation (Tom’s father, aunt and uncle) moved their mill, Bingham Lumber, from Fitchburg, MA here to Brookline in 1973. The mill grew and thrived until 2000 when the tides changed for the sawmill industry in New Hampshire.

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Doing it yourself? Well, you’re not alone.

Reclaimed Brown Barn Board Paneling in Narrow WidthsDo It Yourself home improvement is a growing phenomenon these days as the internet abounds with do-it-yourself (DIY) websites, blogs, forums, social media and other ways for individuals to check out cool DIY projects such as handicrafts, woodworking, and even furniture-making.

Maybe you’ve even decided you’d like to try your hand at your very own DIY project. After all, winter’s a great time to do a little research, look around, and check out an interesting project or two to start in the spring. Perhaps you saw a beautiful table, bookcase, chair, or sign on Pinterest or Instagram. So how do you get started?

First, think about the kind of wood you’ll need for your project and what you’d like to use – there are hardwoods and softwoods in a variety of textures, grains, and colors. There’s new lumber and beautiful reclaimed lumber – decades or even centuries-old, high-quality panels, planks, and timbers from old homes, barns, and other buildings. Here at Bingham Lumber we procure the finest reclaimed lumber from respected sources throughout the Northeast to ensure the highest quality and then we remill it for a wide range of uses.

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Reclaimed Factories: Recycling the world’s most rugged and beautiful wood

New England abounds with old factories that hark back to the earliest days of the American Industrial Revolution. Massive brick-and-wood structures that once lined the banks of New England rivers have long since fallen silent, many transformed into condominiums and office space.

But some of these old factories are too far gone for that kind of restoration. Instead, they’re being reclaimed for their beautiful, durable lumber. They are filled with enormous weight-bearing beams hewn from old growth timber and gorgeous wide plank flooring exhibiting the unique wear and coloration that can only come from decades of contact with feet and machinery.

One of the most prized woods found in old factories is long-leaf pine, cut and hauled north from southern forests after the Civil War. Some experts say the Industrial Revolution was built on long-leaf pine which, before steel became available, was considered the most durable building material around. In fact, long leaf pine was used extensively in New York City during the building boom in the late 1800’s – it was even used in the foundation of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Taking Care of Your Wood Floor

image of a floor being cleanedA wood floor — especially one crafted from vintage, reclaimed, wide-plank lumber – is not only a thing of beauty, it’s one of durability when properly cared for. Wood flooring that has received a quality finish using an appropriate finishing product is relatively easy to care for and will provide many years of use and pleasure.

A little knowledge goes a long way in maintaining your wood floors, so get to know your specific type of flooring and finish and rely on the manufacturer’s or supplier’s instructions for proper care. Research your particular finish so you’ll know which cleaners can be used without damaging your floor or finish. Never use cleaners designed for other surfaces such as tile, lineoleum, or laminate on hardwood — these will dull the surface or cause it to become overly slippery,

Sweep your floors regularly with a soft broom – this will not only keep them clean but also naturally buff the surface of the flooring and keep it from scratching – and use a dry towel whenever possible to wipe up messes and spills. Use as little water as possible and immediately wipe up any wet spots. Do NOT use oil soaps because they will leave residue, build up, and eventually dull the surface, making refinishing difficult.

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Reclaimed Barns

Reclaimed BarnsThroughout the Mid-West and up and down the eastern seaboard lives a deep rooted history in agriculture and farming that has existed since the arrival of the first American settlers. The result is a landscape that has been dotted with beautiful old barns steeped in American history and use that has imbued them with character, charm and unique features. These features are the reason for the recent increase in popularity of reclaimed barn siding, paneling, and the overall use of reclaimed materials in new construction.

There are a number of reasons to recycle old lumber from reclaimed barns, starting with the recycled wood’s unique characteristics:

Physical Appearance- There is nothing on the market today that compares to reclaimed barn wood. Many of these old barns were built over a hundred years ago using virgin timber that no longer exists. Much of this wood has been gently weathered and features unique coloring, beautiful grain patterns and knot structure, insect markings, and nail holes that add character and charm to the wood. Properly handled and processed for modern use, the beauty and functionality of recycled lumber is unmatched.

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The Difference Between Strip Flooring and Plank Flooring

IMG_8605Years ago, wall-to-wall carpeting was viewed by many as the ultimate flooring for new homes – a vast expanse of soft, warm, cushiony flooring that seemed ideal for young families moving into new homes in the suburbs.

However, hardwood flooring has seen a revival in recent years as homeowners have rediscovered the beauty and value of durable, attractive, versatile hardwood that remains long after carpeting has worn out and faded. Today, hardwood flooring is recognized as a highly-sought-after, top-quality flooring that maintains its value over the years and helps homes appraise higher and sell faster than homes with synthetic carpeting. Also, many individuals with allergies and asthma have turned to hardwood flooring over carpet because of the reduction in allergens associated.

If you’re a builder or buyer looking for high quality hardwood flooring, there are two types in particular that are popular but can be confusing because of their relatively similar look and names: hardwood strip flooring and hardwood plank flooring. We’ll explain the difference here and why plank flooring is the better overall value.

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