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Repurpose a barn? Why not?

Drew Ackerlund turns old wood into new projects


What’s old is new again.

Drew Ackerlund is helping old wood find new homes while providing a sustainable alternative for those in need of some construction.

With a passion for woodworking sparked by his grandpa, Ackerlund set out to run his own business, American Barnwood Flooring & Design, from his warehouse near the intersection of 19th Avenue and Main Street in Forest Grove.

Ackerlund took an interest in the area’s old barns right away, and what started out as a hobby is now a growing new business.

Seeking out old barns in the area, he hopes to find one he can deconstruct, piece apart and use in a new project.

Ackerlund is always on the hunt for barns that look distressed. Once he finds one and contacts the owner, he determines if they’re interested in deconstruction.

“Many times people are attached to their barns, but it’s often a better way to go to lend it to another use,” Ackerlund said. “These barns are made of wood you just can’t find anymore.”

Deconstructing a barn is no easy task — nor is it inexpensive. It involves specific equipment and a lot of heavy lifting as Ackerlund and his team try to disassemble the barns without leaving them in a heap and salvaging the wood without cracking or splitting it.

He tries to keep a wide variety of colors, textures, ages and qualities stocked in his warehouse at all times in order to be ready for the specific needs of customers. Ackerlund offers to oversee projects start to finish with designing and building expertise, or will simply provide the materials. He also ships wood out of state.

Recent projects include flooring for 2012 Street of Dreams homes in West Linn and 1910 An American Bistro’s new wine bar, which he constructed mostly of wood that is 300 to 400 years old, with the help of contractor Josh Thomason.

“These craftsmen who built these barns were an amazing breed of people. They often built with timber that was right there on the property and could build sturdy, well-constructed barns with very little metal that stood for a hundred plus years,” he said.

According to Ackerlund, a typical barn built in the early 1900s was made from wood that was 100 to 200 years old. “Some of the wood in these barns was growing when our nation was founded,” he said.

Old growth lumber is no longer widely available and timber cutting techniques used in the late 1800s and early 1900s often ensured the strongest cuts of wood from the heart of the tree.

Reusing the materials gleaned from old growth trees is important to Ackerlund.

“My interest in green building has heightened,” he said. “Just about anything can be made from reclaimed materials and it’s all part of the Northwest. It’s a great way to reclaim and repurpose old growth.”

Ackerlund hopes to team up with Thomason again and is looking forward to more local projects in the future, using wood with character and history.

“Finding a new place for this wood is a tribute to the forest, the materials harvested 100 years ago, and the craftsmen who were actively engaged in logging and building,” Ackerlund said.



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