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Thread: Bleacher boards....?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Bleacher boards....?

    In my wood pile I rediscovered a stack of wide fir boards that I salvaged from the bleachers at the school where my wife works.

    The boards for sitting on are 1 5/16" thick and 10 3/4" wide. The foot boards are the same thickness and 7 1/2" wide. Each board is about 5 feet long which is the usable length between the bolt holes where the boards were attached to the bleachers.

    There are at least 10 coats of varnish on these boards on the top and where drips and runs have accumulated on the bottom they can be over 1/4" thick.

    I have been considering how best to clean this wood up as it is beautiful straight grain, almost quartersawn fir. I sawed off a piece and put it on the lathe to see the grain and it is definitely Douglas fir and like I said almost quartersawn. Why the lathe you ask? I felt it was the easiest and fastest way to clean up the surface of a test piece.

    I hesitate to put it through my planer for fear of the heavy accumulation of varnish ruining my planer blades and you can feel the grit embedded in the varnish from many years of foot traffic.

    Do you think it would be possible to clean these boards up using a wide belt drum sander? I have about 40 of each size of this wood. I would hate to throw it out.
    Last edited by Mike Stafford; 10-29-2010 at 09:00 PM.
    I may be getting a little older physically but mentally I'm still tarp as a shack.

  2. #2
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    I wouldn't throw it out either. Have some also in my school woodshop I grabbed when they did some work on our bleachers last year. I was wondering if it was fir. Another thought, what about a thin cut on a bandsaw like resawing it?
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  3. #3
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    Mike, what are the costs involved? How much is a new set of knives? Or, how much to resharpen them? How much is your time worth? And sandpaper costs money, too.

    I'd run them through the planer and be done with it. Life is too short. My 2 cents.

  4. #4
    In anchient times we (shop teachers) worked summers repairing the school's facility. One year was to redo the Bleachers in the fieldhouse. Similar as yours, It was decided to rid the scars and such by simply turning them over... Not so easy as the underside was (as you discribe) Decades of Varnish Drool, and a wearhouse full of used gum, some hard as bricks others soft and sticky... Paint scrapers were our choice of tools, As I remember we scraped the gum and varnish drool and then Passed each through the planer (Faye & Egan 24") w/o a problem.

    More reciently, I acquired a table top from a local eatery, 1.5" thick Ash and 42" square, (Excellant piece of wood) Again Varnish drool and lots of gum. This time they had invented the Carbide Scraper, Got one and boy as it easier to remove the junque.

    Get thyself a Carbide scraper(less than $20) and never be sorry. I use mine all the time so the expense lessens with each use. Scrape away your problems... With the amount of stash you acquired, I wouldn't expect you th clean it all at the same time so the wear on your elbows and sander and planer shouldn't be a problem. Just stash the stack and clean as you need it.

  5. #5
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    Carol, the costs are as yet undetermined. I don't know how many sets of disposable planer blades it might take to clean up the wood but you are correct, as usual, life is too short to worry about it. I had considered taking them to a local sawmill and run them through their wide belt sander as that would probably cost me less than the blades. They don't charge me very much as long I do the work.

    Bill, I have a wide carbide scraper and I will try to remove the varnish drool ( that is an apt description by the way). The gum came off easily and there was not very much of it to deal with. I picked through the boards to choose those in the best shape. The higher in the bleachers the better shape the wood was in.

    You know, the most important question I have to answer is what am I going to do with this stock once I get it cleaned up.... I am thinking of making tackle boxes from it.

    Thanks for the ideas. I have to start sorting out my wood supply. It is totally out of control.
    I may be getting a little older physically but mentally I'm still tarp as a shack.

  6. #6
    If you haven't a clue to what to use it for, then why worry about cleaning it all up. Make that part f the project Just like processing rough cut wood. If you only clean what you need when you need it, the work load will be less, the wear on the planer will be less and the stress will be less, Just stack it and figure out what you need before going balistic.

    Consider this, when you get some rough cut, do you rush home and plane it all down then decipher what to build? or do you have a plan in mind and then prepare the wood for the plan?

  7. #7
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    I believe I would only want to run it all through once & at the same time. Why???
    If it's going to mess the blades up I would prefer to just keep going as long as it cutting fairly well & if if needs a little help I can slide a blade or two over just a little to help with a nick or two.

    This way I can have fresh sharp blades in the planer after it all planed by only changing the blades once.

    If you do it each time your doing a project you'll dull you sharp set each time with the first board or at the least the first 2 boards.
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

  8. #8
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    If the scraper doesn't do what you expect with reasonable effort, I would sacrifice an old set of planer knives if I had one. I would think this "stuff" on the boards would load up a sanding belt in very little time at all.
    ________

    Ron

    "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
    Vince Lombardi

  9. #9
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    I have done both, sander and planer. Sander is the cheapest option. The finish will get hot while planing and melt/ stick to the blades. I would sand with light passes.

    Should also add, start with a rough grit. 36 or so, messes up the surface more but cleans itself better.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Simpson View Post
    If you haven't a clue to what to use it for, then why worry about cleaning it all up. Make that part f the project Just like processing rough cut wood. If you only clean what you need when you need it, the work load will be less, the wear on the planer will be less and the stress will be less, Just stack it and figure out what you need before going balistic.

    Consider this, when you get some rough cut, do you rush home and plane it all down then decipher what to build? or do you have a plan in mind and then prepare the wood for the plan?
    Bill, I have made a number of tackle boxes and the tackle box I like to build will make good use of the wood in the sizes that I have. I have made them from quite a few different species. I enjoy making tackle boxes and I have never made one from fir.

    I just don't want this wood to sit and rot....
    I may be getting a little older physically but mentally I'm still tarp as a shack.

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