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sundh 09-11-2012 05:41 PM

Railroad Ties Dining Table
Hi guys,
I'm about to start my dining table project. I want to build a really thick and massive table out of reclaimed wood.

My question is: is it safe to use railroad ties? I know they are heavily stained and pressure treated to withstand all kinds of things. I also know that they're toxic and therefore dangerous to use inside your home.

However, I've seen plenty of furniture online that are made from railroad ties. How are they not dangerous? Is there a way to plane them down to get rid of the chemicals or can I seal it somehow?

If it turns out to be a waste of time, does anyone know where to get reclaimed wood (such as bar wood)?

Thanks a million in advance!



oh'mike 09-11-2012 05:47 PM

Tell us where you are----there are plenty of sources of recycled interesting wood all across this continent.

Most RR ties are soaked in creosote----stinking--tar like and ruinous to tools----most ties are oak or Cyprus in the Midwest and south---nice wood but working it will make you change your mind---

sundh 09-11-2012 05:52 PM

Thanks Oh'mike! I'm in Westchester, New york.

oh'mike 09-11-2012 06:20 PM

I think,in your area--I look at boat salvage yards---architectural salvage yards---or beach comb for drift wood----

Just my thoughts off the top of my head----I get super deals from small local saw mills---but you would have a bit of a ride to find one----but if you are up for a ride--google sawmills N.Y.

kwikfishron 09-11-2012 06:33 PM

199 Attachment(s)
Railroad ties for a Dining table???:no::no::no:

Along with what Mike suggested you might try a good old fashion lumber yard.

Although not reclaimed so to speak my lumber yard always has a pile of mis-ordered glue lambs and such (for about half price) that could easily be turned into a beefy table.

AtlanticWBConst. 09-11-2012 07:04 PM

They may not be "genuine" RR ties per-say (in terms of weather resistant treatment - chemicals, etc.).

They may also be treated so that the chemicals have been removed.

They may also have all exposed surfaces completely and heavily "sealed".

I'd suggest looking up the actual Manufacturers and Retailers to make your inquiries, rather than here.

jaydevries 09-11-2012 10:31 PM

i have used oak skids from metal fabricators shops to make all kinds of stuff i also have a freind that has made oak bunk beds and 2 sleigh beds out of oak pallets or skids

sundh 09-11-2012 10:50 PM

Thanks for all the help and comments guys. Much appreciated!

joecaption 09-12-2012 07:28 AM

Any saw mills near you? Most will have air dryed or sun dryed rough cut 4 X 4's and 6 X 6's.

danpik 09-12-2012 10:48 AM

Talk to a local tree service. We have one here who, when needed, can supply large dimensioned lumber. He cuts trees for customers and if needed can bandsaw the tree trunks into lumber. I recently had him saw a 3' diameter black walnut tree from my moms property into several rough sizes of boards. Currently it is all in my brothers barn air drying.

notmrjohn 09-12-2012 04:45 PM


Originally Posted by oh'mike (Post 1007958)
Most RR ties are soaked in creosote----stinking--tar like and ruinous to tools

don't do your health much good either, and ya gotta wash dishes in turpentine. On the other hand, creosote is what gives smoked meats their flavor, ( "Liquid Smoke" is a bottle of diluted creosote) Everything you eat off that table will taste like bacon, and everything is better with bacon, even your bacon will be better, the only thing better than bacon is more bacon.:thumbsup:

Tom Wilson 09-12-2012 08:37 PM

I love the railroad tie idea. You would have to plane all 4 sides, and bolt them together with threaded rod. But what an amazing table that would make!

If you need a source for those, just get in touch with one of the local "rails to trails" organizations, I'm sure they could hook you up with some.

notmrjohn 09-13-2012 09:21 AM

Before you send any ties thru my planer or saws I want a deposit on blades. Who knows what kind of nails, spikes and other metal (like flattened pennies) is in there. Bound to be gravel and chunks of ballast in there too. A solid tie top of 4x8 feet will weigh any where from 750 to 1500 lbs. Ties are easy to find, no you just don't go walking along the tracks, Federal Offense to take even old discarded tie from RR right of way, also illegal to put pennies on the tracks, and you sure don't want a rail road bull displeased with you. Some situations require EPA approved contractors for tie removal, preservatives in ties, chemicals hauled and spilled by RR, etc. Yellow page or google lists sellers of used ties of various quality and price 20-25 bucks is a general max price. Landscaping services sell them . but i don't think you really wanta start from scratch and try find some mill to resaw and plane your ties.
Google re-claimed lumber , they've already done the work and made planks and timbers from authentic ties. With authentic weathered look, not just unplaned new lumber. They've done the metal detecting and blade replacing as well as testing, de-treating, and sealing and such that Atlantic warned you about. Or they should have, best ask. You can also get reclaimed box car boards to make chairs, just don't make them from old cattle car planks.

danpik 09-13-2012 12:16 PM

In most areas it is illegal to posess rail ties any more because of the creosote. We had to switch to a treated timber at work to replace some old rail ties when we found we could no longer get them.

Don't mess around railroads anymore either. As they fall under federal law the dept of homeland security gets involved and can and will charge with terrorism charges.

notmrjohn 09-13-2012 12:55 PM

Some areas ban used ties because of Formosan termites, they love ties, creosote is just gravy to them. Eat your house for dessert.
WAKE UP AMERICA!! We gotta secure our borders! Terrorists are sneaking in and putting pennies on the tracks!

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