Sawmilling Salvaged Wood in Southern Ontario

By Tony Kryzanowski, Wood-Mizer Contributing Author

Rustic and Reclaimed, Salvage Sawmilling in Canada

 

In southern Ontario, Rustic and Reclaimed has found success in demolishing old barns, salvaging as many beams and lumber from the structure as possible, then sawmilling and selling the material. Established in 2012 by owners Steve and Tanya Ribbink, it helps that their business is located near Caledonia within easy driving distances of such large cities as Toronto and Hamilton. So they are surrounded by a huge urban customer base where construction is booming.

Rustic and Reclaimed offers barn demolition and salvage, custom sawmilling, and live edge lumber sales. Activity tends to ebb and flow among these three endeavors throughout the year. The rustic and vintage appearance of the reclaimed wood attracts many buyers for a variety of building applications and there is huge demand particularly for reclaimed beams. Also, live edge lumber sales have become a much bigger piece of their business than they could have imagined with most of their live edge material used for tabletops and shelving.

 

 

The business has become somewhat of a problem solver for rural residents. When a farm is sold and the new owner wants to sell the residential property, before they can finalize the sale, municipal by-laws require that barns located within a certain distance from the residence must be removed. Enter Rustic and Reclaimed and their barn demolition and salvage service.

Farming has also changed. Older wooden barns in many instances have outlived their original purpose for such activities as dairy farming, storing hay, or machine storage. Leaving them standing is often a safety issue.

Steve isn't worried about running out of barns even though there are other companies from as far away as Quebec offering a similar service. Sometimes a prime barn target turns into a bit of a bidding war. But in just the eight minute drive from his home in Hagersville to where his business is located in Caledonia, Steve has counted twelve barns that will eventually require demolition. In 2020, the company tore down and salvaged wood from 13 barns. Typically, they can salvage about 50 percent of the wood from each barn. "If we only do a dozen barns a year, I think there will be enough barns for my lifetime," said Steve.

Most of the wood Rustic and Reclaimed salvages is white pine, although they occasionally encounter elm and hickory structures. But from a wood product manufacturing standpoint, reclamation is not the largest amount of time where the Ribbinks utilize their Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill. They also process logs into lumber from softwoods like white pine and spruce and from hardwoods like walnut, butternut, cherry, ash, oak, and maple. Almost all of these logs are salvaged from local tree removal companies. "We're always hunting for black walnut logs," said Steve, because the lumber sawn from them is high value. They are native to that area of Ontario.

 

 

Back in 2012 when the business was established, Steve was looking for an opportunity that would allow him to earn income year-round, having spent two decades in the landscaping and tree removal industry. "We had a barn on my parents' property and there was a beam that needed to be replaced," explained Steve. "So we removed it and my wife put it on Kijiji. A lady bought all the pieces of that beam." A conversation followed where they asked if she needed anything else. “She gave us a list of beams she was looking for," said Steve.

Later, Steve heard through a connection that an area barn was slated for demolition. They were able to salvage all the pieces from that barn that their Kijiji customer needed. "And then we started looking for barns, and once we got the sawmill, we knew we had to make a decision whether or not to jump in full time," said Steve.

Rustic and Reclaimed soon evolved into a year-round enterprise, especially when the company purchased its newer Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill that provided opportunity for custom sawmilling and lumber sales.

Initially, they shipped salvage material to the original owner of the Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill, but he purchased a larger Wood-Mizer sawmill, which made the extra LT28 available to sell. The Ribbinks jumped at the opportunity to buy it and in less than two years of starting their salvage business, they were able to trade salvage material for the cost of purchasing the sawmill. "Once we had the sawmill, we were basically cutting up whatever we could get our hands on initially," said Steve. "The majority of the beams we salvage are cut into something different or into different dimensions at the very least. We do a lot of mantles, ceiling beams, and so on."

There is very little sold as-is from the salvage pile. So the Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill is essential to their business.

 

 

The company has added kiln drying to their lumber-from-logs manufacturing process so that now they can provide dried wood products. The Ribbinks recognized that there was a lot more income potential from kiln-dried wood products than from green lumber. Wood-Mizer estimates that lumber producers can gain at least one-third more income by drying green lumber.

Typically, customers will provide Rustic and Reclaimed with a timber and/or lumber package list, and they will dig through their reclaimed material and log inventory to provide them with their needs. The Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill is used in a variety of ways - for something as simple as trimming beams for properly-sized mantles to sawing detailed, multi-dimensional lumber packages. They also offer custom sawmilling to produce lumber for log owners according to their requirements.

Their Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill is a basic model without any hydraulics or electronics, although a winch is available to load logs onto the sawmill bed. All measurements and sawing functions are performed manually down to 1/16th of an inch. "The Wood-Mizer sawmill has served our needs very well," said Steve. They primarily use Wood-Mizer's Turbo 7 sawmill blades in winter because Steve says they tend to cut frozen logs better, but they use more of an all-purpose sawmill blade the rest of the time.

Recently they purchased a Wood-Mizer BMS250 automatic bandsaw blade sharpener as well as a Wood-Mizer BMT150 tooth setter to support the sawmill. The blade sharpener is automatic and shuts off when it is done so Steve can be busy elsewhere while a sawmill blade is being sharpened. "In a year, we will probably change the blade 300 times. Part of the reason is that we are processing salvage material and we run into more nails," said Steve. "It's harder on the blades."

 

 

Rustic and Reclaimed also saws a variety of wood cookies on their sawmill. Steve estimates that they have produced about 120,000 cookies since purchasing their sawmill. These are typically used as table coasters and Christmas ornaments.

By offering a variety of services and value-added products, Rustic and Reclaimed continues to grow their southern Ontario sawmill business one barn at a time.

 

In southern Ontario, Rustic and Reclaimed has found success in demolishing old barns, salvaging as many beams and lumber from the structure as possible, then sawmilling and selling the material. Established in 2012 by owners Steve and Tanya Ribbink, it helps that their business is located near Caledonia within easy driving distances of such large cities as Toronto and Hamilton. So they are surrounded by a huge urban customer base where construction is booming.

Rustic and Reclaimed offers barn demolition and salvage, custom sawmilling, and live edge lumber sales. Activity tends to ebb and flow among these three endeavors throughout the year. The rustic and vintage appearance of the reclaimed wood attracts many buyers for a variety of building applications and there is huge demand particularly for reclaimed beams. Also, live edge lumber sales have become a much bigger piece of their business than they could have imagined with most of their live edge material used for tabletops and shelving.

Rustic and Reclaimed barn

Rustic and Reclaimed trailer

The business has become somewhat of a problem solver for rural residents. When a farm is sold and the new owner wants to sell the residential property, before they can finalize the sale, municipal by-laws require that barns located within a certain distance from the residence must be removed. Enter Rustic and Reclaimed and their barn demolition and salvage service.

Farming has also changed. Older wooden barns in many instances have outlived their original purpose for such activities as dairy farming, storing hay, or machine storage. Leaving them standing is often a safety issue.

Steve isn't worried about running out of barns even though there are other companies from as far away as Quebec offering a similar service. Sometimes a prime barn target turns into a bit of a bidding war. But in just the eight minute drive from his home in Hagersville to where his business is located in Caledonia, Steve has counted twelve barns that will eventually require demolition. In 2020, the company tore down and salvaged wood from 13 barns. Typically, they can salvage about 50 percent of the wood from each barn. "If we only do a dozen barns a year, I think there will be enough barns for my lifetime," said Steve.

Most of the wood Rustic and Reclaimed salvages is white pine, although they occasionally encounter elm and hickory structures. But from a wood product manufacturing standpoint, reclamation is not the largest amount of time where the Ribbinks utilize their Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill. They also process logs into lumber from softwoods like white pine and spruce and from hardwoods like walnut, butternut, cherry, ash, oak, and maple. Almost all of these logs are salvaged from local tree removal companies. "We're always hunting for black walnut logs," said Steve, because the lumber sawn from them is high value. They are native to that area of Ontario.

Rustic and Reclaimed sawmill

Rustic and Reclaimed salvaged wood

Back in 2012 when the business was established, Steve was looking for an opportunity that would allow him to earn income year-round, having spent two decades in the landscaping and tree removal industry. "We had a barn on my parents' property and there was a beam that needed to be replaced," explained Steve. "So we removed it and my wife put it on Kijiji. A lady bought all the pieces of that beam." A conversation followed where they asked if she needed anything else. “She gave us a list of beams she was looking for," said Steve.

Later, Steve heard through a connection that an area barn was slated for demolition. They were able to salvage all the pieces from that barn that their Kijiji customer needed. "And then we started looking for barns, and once we got the sawmill, we knew we had to make a decision whether or not to jump in full time," said Steve.

Rustic and Reclaimed soon evolved into a year-round enterprise, especially when the company purchased its newer Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill that provided opportunity for custom sawmilling and lumber sales.

Initially, they shipped salvage material to the original owner of the Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill, but he purchased a larger Wood-Mizer sawmill, which made the extra LT28 available to sell. The Ribbinks jumped at the opportunity to buy it and in less than two years of starting their salvage business, they were able to trade salvage material for the cost of purchasing the sawmill. "Once we had the sawmill, we were basically cutting up whatever we could get our hands on initially," said Steve. "The majority of the beams we salvage are cut into something different or into different dimensions at the very least. We do a lot of mantles, ceiling beams, and so on."

There is very little sold as-is from the salvage pile. So the Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill is essential to their business.

Rustic and Reclaimed drying

Rustic and Reclaimed sawmilling

The company has added kiln drying to their lumber-from-logs manufacturing process so that now they can provide dried wood products. The Ribbinks recognized that there was a lot more income potential from kiln-dried wood products than from green lumber. Wood-Mizer estimates that lumber producers can gain at least one-third more income by drying green lumber.

Typically, customers will provide Rustic and Reclaimed with a timber and/or lumber package list, and they will dig through their reclaimed material and log inventory to provide them with their needs. The Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill is used in a variety of ways - for something as simple as trimming beams for properly-sized mantles to sawing detailed, multi-dimensional lumber packages. They also offer custom sawmilling to produce lumber for log owners according to their requirements.

Their Wood-Mizer LT28 portable sawmill is a basic model without any hydraulics or electronics, although a winch is available to load logs onto the sawmill bed. All measurements and sawing functions are performed manually down to 1/16th of an inch. "The Wood-Mizer sawmill has served our needs very well," said Steve. They primarily use Wood-Mizer's Turbo 7 sawmill blades in winter because Steve says they tend to cut frozen logs better, but they use more of an all-purpose sawmill blade the rest of the time.

Recently they purchased a Wood-Mizer BMS250 automatic bandsaw blade sharpener as well as a Wood-Mizer BMT150 tooth setter to support the sawmill. The blade sharpener is automatic and shuts off when it is done so Steve can be busy elsewhere while a sawmill blade is being sharpened. "In a year, we will probably change the blade 300 times. Part of the reason is that we are processing salvage material and we run into more nails," said Steve. "It's harder on the blades."

Rustic and Reclaimed sharpener

Rustic and Reclaimed setter

Rustic and Reclaimed also saws a variety of wood cookies on their sawmill. Steve estimates that they have produced about 120,000 cookies since purchasing their sawmill. These are typically used as table coasters and Christmas ornaments.

By offering a variety of services and value-added products, Rustic and Reclaimed continues to grow their southern Ontario sawmill business one barn at a time.

Rustic and Reclaimed live edge

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