This is the 7 Best Places to Find Real Antique Wood, your guide to finding real antique wood that you can use to build your projects, refinish, or reclaim for a different purpose.
Where to Find Real Antique Wood
There is something alluring and magical about antique wood. The wood from today is not grown the same way, it’s not as dense, and not as strong as antique wood, and for those reasons many woodworkers like using antique lumber in their projects.
Not only is real antique wood already stabilized, but it’s also had many years to acclimate to the region where you found the piece, and it likely never going to bend, warp, or move ever again if you keep it in the same environment.
Also, antique wood is more dense, and better looking in many cases than modern wood, and can make your projects unique. It’s also nice to save a piece of wood from going into the trash or the landfill, even if you just save the piece, or cut it up to make something else.
Below, I’ll show you several places where you can find real antique wood, and most of them are inexpensive or free. Enjoy.
Antique Wood from Second Hand Stores
One of the easiest and best ways to find antique wood that is the real thing is to shop second hand stores. The other advantage with this method is that the pieces tend to be a lot less expensive, because they are not being sold as antiques.
You are going to have to do a little work learning how to spot real antique wood from a piece that simply looks old, but once you know a couple tips you will be a pro. First, look at the piece, and in particular the style. Most older styles have a look to them, and that’s a good indication that it’s really old, and will have antique wood parts.
Another thing is to look for a sticker or brand from a maker with a date. This is low hanging fruit for finding real antique wood if you can find it, but if not, that’s ok too. You can search the piece on Google if you can describe it well enough, or it has a name, and then you can see the age.
Lastly, only spend time looking up pieces that are made from actual wood. Particle board, laminate, or other veneered substrates are not even worth looking at. Solid wood is what you want.
See Also: Finding Tools in Antique Stores
Antique Wood from Antique Stores
It should go without saying that antique stores are a great place to find real antique wood, but you need to be cautious. Antique stores are going to charge a lot more for the piece than other places, because you are buying the age and the uniqueness, not the wood.
As a woodworker, you want the wood more than the piece in most cases, so you need to balance the cost of the piece vs the product that you can make with the wood. If you are selling, you need to make sure that the final price of what you sell is made better or profitable enough by using actual antique wood.
If your products or creations must have older wood to be successful, then weigh the cost of the items you need to buy to harvest from against the revenue that you can create using that older wood in your own products.
Finding the wood is about the same as anywhere else though, and you just need to carefully look at each wooden piece to see if it is real wood, and if there is enough of it for you to use in your shop.
Antique Wood from Garage Sales
One of the better places to find old wooden pieces is at garage sales. This is also an opportunity to pick up something for a deal, or even free, as most garage sales start lowering the prices and giving things away near the end of the day. This is an opportunity for you to find real antique wood, and also save money.
Looking at garage sales, you want to find neighborhoods with older residents. Look for retirement communities and 55+ neighborhoods and see if they have scheduled neighborhood garage sales. Once you know when they are, go to them and search around. Get there early so you get the first pick, and be prepared with a way to get the things you buy home.
The last thing you want to do is have a customer tell you they won’t hold anything while you run home for your trailer or truck. Be prepared, and come with what you need.
Also, when it comes to verifying the age of the piece, most of these garage sales will be the original owners, or at least know enough bout the item to tell you the age, where they got it, and what is made from. Using this information, coupled with inspecting the piece to ensure the wood is real, you can find antiques wood for your projects.
Antique Wood from Online
There is a market for antique wood online, though most of the time it’s going to be expensive. The way around that is looking at online marketplaces that sell used goods, or sell person to person like facebook marketplace, craigslist, etc. These are basically online garage sales, and you can find a better deal this way.
Obviously be careful meeting people on-line, and conduct yourself in a way that keeps you safe. Search the listings, and when you come across something that may contain real antique wood, you can message the seller and ask some questions about it before committing.
If the piece makes sense, and the price is right, you can arrange the transaction with the seller, and pick up your piece.
Antique Wood from Asking Friends
Another great way to find wood that is old enough to be called antique is to ask your friends. Most of us have old things in the house that we only cart around because we don’t throw them away for some reason. Most of the time, if you let someone know that the piece is going to a good home, or that it’s going to be given a second life as something new, people will help you out.
Old dining chairs, tables, furniture, swing sets, all have old wood that can be used for something new, and most people have several of these things. I personally kept around an old table that was given to me by a friend, and it lived in my garage for years. It was almost a double antique before I finally did something with it.
You would be surprised at how many of your friends would consider you doing them a favor when you get that junk out of their house. You might even get it for free, or for the low low price of one of your woodworking creations as payment. This is great, because you can get the wood for free, and then give away one of your projects.
See Also: 50 Awesome Reasons to be a Woodworker
Antique Wood from Dumpster Diving
This one can be a little dangerous, so be careful, and whatever you do don’t go into someone’s dumpster without asking them. Most people don’t care, but business may accuse you of trespassing if you go into their garbage without asking.
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and that is true of antique wood as well as anything else. People just don’t know what is valuable to others most of the time, and will unknowingly throw out things that they might have been able to sell for quite a bit of money.
Do some research on bulk trash pickup in communities around you. Once you find the schedule, go through the neighborhood a few times in the week leading up to the pickup day. You will find a lot of good stuff, and if you are lucky, some real antique wood furniture that you can harvest from.
Antique Wood from Estate Sales
Estate sales are generally large garage sales when someone passes away, and the family wants to get rid of the majority of their old possessions. These can be good and bad, depending on the price point, and what they person had.
For some estate sales, it’s going to be someone that was wealthy, so even at garage sale prices, the items are going to be out of the reach of normal people like us. If you find yourself looking at a sale like this, do still check for deals, but don’t buy anything that you can’t make a profit from.
On the other hand, some estate sales are just labels for really big sales, and in that case it’s just a gigantic cheap garage sale like any other, and you can find deals. The neighborhood you see this in is a good indicator, so look for estate sales in the papers or online that are in parts of town where you can still afford to buy something.
See Also: How to Make Wood Look Reclaimed
People Also Ask:
Why is antique wood better? Real antique wood is not necessarily better than other sources of wood, but in general the wood itself is denser, more stable, and grown slower than modern wood. This can be beneficial assuming that those properties are important to you or your projects.
How do you know wood is antique? Knowing that wood is antique is a skill, but a skill you can learn. You need to be able to do research into your finds, and see when they were made, and what they were made from to see if you have real antique wood in there or not.
Do I need to use antique wood for my project? No, you don’t need to use antique wood for the majority of projects, but if you are trying to specifically make things from older pieces of wood, and advertise them as such, then you need to be using the real thing otherwise you are being dishonest.
7 Best Places to Find Real Antique Wood Wrap Up
Thank you for reading the 7 Best Places to Find Real Antique Wood. Now it’s time to take cation, and start looking around for some older wood that you can make projects from. Pick something easy, like garage sales or online sales, or even second hand stores. Pop in, and see what you can find.
Spend some time verifying that what you are getting is the real deal, and make sure that it is worth buying before you buy it.
When you get the piece home, you can begin milling it down to usable pieces for your projects, and depending on what you find, you can end up with a long supply of wood that will last you through many projects.
If you have any questions about finding real antique wood, please contact me and I will be glad to help.
- More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
- 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
- Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
- Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post.