This furniture maker uses reclaimed wood to design everything from tables to bookcases that are over 100 years old!
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- Reclaimed furniture can mean a lot of different things. Maybe it was a fence that's 20 years old, or maybe it was from a building that was from the 1800s and it was the floor joist. For me, I became completely addicted to the concept of salvaging hundred-year-old wood. Whether it's someone's dining room, their home office, a commercial space, that wood instantly sorta has that organic way of warming the whole space up. It's always been all about the material and the wood and the beauty that comes with it. My name's Erin True. I'm president and co-founder at Urban Wood Goods. Urban Wood Goods is an environmentally focused reclaimed wood furniture manufacturer. We're located just north of the city of Chicago. I started Urban Wood Goods by accident completely, only because I was making a bench for my own home. And the thrill of going on this wild goose chase to find the perfect piece of wood and then transforming it into something I could look at, that I loved every single day, it was just an instant success to me. I never expected to take something I loved and be able to turn it into a life's passion. The coolest part is that we're salvaging something that already had this other purpose a hundred years prior. We're not trying to make something look old. We want that authentic age. My design process for building shelves always starts with the wood in mind first and letting the wood shine through. After we acquire new loads of lumber, our team needs to do what's called stickering with the wood and that's basically taking small sticks and spacing 'em between every single board so that when it's stacked there can be air flow that goes in between the boards. We then put it in our lumber kiln and it dries the wood to that perfect moisture content for building furniture. Each piece that we're creating has its own properties and characteristics. We're selecting boards that are tonally consistent with their grain patterns and the color so that it's all cohesive as a shelving unit. After all the boards are selected, we use a chop saw to cut those boards to the exact length. After the boards have been cut to size, it gets wheeled over to our rough planer. And essentially what the planer does, it's got 80 blades inside it. It's like a helical head, which just spins, and it's getting the proper board width to create the larger piece. The wood is then fed through the joiner so that we're getting a perfect 90 degree angle on those boards to join them seamlessly. After the wood moves out of the joiner, the boards are glued up, tightened with clamps, put in a rack, and they sit there to dry for about 24 hours to ensure that that hold is very strong. After we have this sort of completed rough shelf, it will go through our finish planer and sander. You get the most exact evenness of those boards. We fill any small gaps or cracks or nail holes that are there with wood filler so that we have the most flattest practical work surface. We have individuals that take palm sanders, they make sure to get the surface as smooth as possible and then they round the edges. Our customers have a choice to leave it natural or it goes into the spray booth where it's stained, it dries for 24 hours and then three coats of an environmentally friendly top coat. After the shelf boards are complete, we have to also create that metal frame that is gonna hold those shelves together. Essentially someone is measuring each piece of metal, cutting it to size, and then it's being welded and fused together to create two shelf brackets per shelf. And then after that, it moves on back to the finish booth where the metal is also treated or left untreated, depending on the customer's choice. The final step in which the wood is assembled with the metal, they're pre-drilling the holes, they're setting it up, they're looking, making sure the tones in the boards are overall accurate, and then we're attaching our name and our stamp of approval on the finished piece. I think our goal at Urban Wood Goods is to create pieces centered around this concept of sustainability. Not only are we sourcing recycled materials, but we're also creating furniture that is meant to last, we're creating furniture that could be recycled. To imagine the thousands and thousands of board feet that we have diverted from the landfill, it's really kind of an incredible feeling. This wood has so much character that it creates like a warmth in this space, could be the focal point, and it's amazing when it could also be the conversation piece too.