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Ged Meager12/08/2010 14:07:34
222 forum posts
Has anybody tried using old railway sleepers to make furniture I know there is a pro  company that does it but I'm interested in hearing from any amature woody thats had a go how they cleaned em up and plank the matereal etc,
Sparky12/08/2010 15:38:36
7631 forum posts
22 photos
Your be better off buying the sleepers new as your find the tar/oil that they use to coat them in gets sucked in at least 2 inches so you will be cutting a lot off before you get to semi good wood.....certainly made to last in our wonderful dry conditions we have here .........just my opinion.
Sam12/08/2010 17:55:52
386 forum posts
110 photos
I have used them in the garden , Some have been in ten years .They do last . But I used one for a BBQ side table , I cut this with a chainsaw and it killed the chain very quickly . I had cut it right through the middle  and the TAR had impregnated it right through and now even after ten years it still heavily bleeds tar .
I can see your reason but I personally wouldn't try it  . And also the outer layers are full of fine grit as I tried planing one with much aggro .
Ron Davis12/08/2010 21:21:35
1614 forum posts
201 photos
Also, I have been told not to use it to make a raised bed in the garden where veggies are grown and the creosote  tar etc is cancerous
dennis wake12/08/2010 23:00:16
2044 forum posts
1451 photos
1 articles
hi Ged
  i have not used old sleepers but i have made a coffie table for a friend out of a oak sleeper seen below.

Oddjob13/08/2010 10:30:07
1635 forum posts
79 photos
Tarred and creopsoted sleepers are totally unsuitable for furniture - the smell and seepage will never go away.  Some modern sleepers are tanalised and may be suitable if you can live with the awful colour.  Untreated sleepers are just baulks of timber and usable for whatever that timber might have been useful for in any other form.
Sorry Dennis.  Your "coffee table" doesn't do it for me.  I only see a pile of rough looking logs but obviously your client has a different view.
Ron, I have seen several of the gardening experts on TV use old sleepers for raised beds so I reckon thay are probably ok.  Creosote is considered to be potentiall harmful in untrained hands (see here  - hence you can now only buy it in commercial quantities - like 55 litres is the smallest I think.  Coal Tar is considered to be equally bad but I don't think that it has been used on sleepers or anything else for many, many years.  Natural tar or tar made from timber resins on the other hand is used extensively in many applications so I don't reckon it can be too bad.
dennis wake13/08/2010 11:11:34
2044 forum posts
1451 photos
1 articles
hi Richard
   that is quit ok we are all hear to make comments and it dosent make for us all to like the same things.
Ron Davis13/08/2010 20:09:32
1614 forum posts
201 photos
Thanks Richard, helpful advice as always.
Dennis, As Richard says if it suits your friend then it is OK, I will say though, I bet it dont get moved much when the vacuum cleaner comes out, unless of course your friend is a weight lifter!
dennis wake13/08/2010 22:30:16
2044 forum posts
1451 photos
1 articles
hi Ron
      they definatly liked it as it was also a snip at half the price of the shop bought itom.
Olly Parry-Jones19/08/2010 08:41:37
2776 forum posts
636 photos
As the other have said; you'd be better off buying "new" sleepers rather than the old. These tend to be green oak, most likely imported from France. The quality won't be as good as oak suitable for furniture making so, it should work out a lot cheaper. If you have a look around a salvage and reclamation yard, you may find other timbers used - perhaps beech and some kind of exotics... Be aware that some sleepers (even the modern ones) will have great lumps of metal stuck in to their ends.
There's definitely an interest in garden furniture made like this but, it's not easy stuff to work with. Not only have you got to move the stuff around but, how are you going to accurately cut something 5-6in thick and 10in or so wide? Unless you have a good eye with the chainsaw...

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