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  • Keith Tribe

Hand Picked, Hand Crafted

Updated: Feb 3, 2019

This blog is the first of what will be a fun and informative look at how a Rustic Works piece is crafted from start to finish. My plan is to explain the frame-making process and to show readers why I enjoy working with barn board so much!

Picking barn board is the first step in creating something beautiful. I have a few local suppliers that dismantle old barns and stack up the wood to sell to people like myself. Many contractors or carpenters that work with barn board are looking for smooth, straight boards with few knots and pieces missing, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. With my work, as you can see, I’m looking for the wood with plenty of character, lots of knots and the more interesting the better!


wood full of character!

When I pick, I often don’t have a particular project in mind, which is where the fun comes in. I will usually sift through boards of varied lengths and widths and often the boards I choose will jump out at me. Whether it has decades of watermarks, waves, holes or just interesting textures, I’m interested in it all!

Once the barn board is back in the shop I will spend hours cleaning the wood. To do that, I simply use a brush and brush away the years of dirt. I also have dental tools that are great for cleaning out the knot holes and deep grooves. I don’t use any chemicals, stains, or washes to clean the wood. I find that with simply brushing the wood for different lengths of time, I can draw out more of the natural colours in the wood. A board that starts off very dark, almost black, can turn into a beautiful brown or dark grey with shades of lighter and darker spots from different sun and weather exposures after it’s been cleaned.


Ant eaten wood




I always enjoy the board picking days as it not only gets me out of the shop but often will inspire me to create new projects. I may not have a plan for a project when I start, but once the wood has been cleaned I often get inspired and know exactly what type of frame or mirror I will make from the board. My shop has different stacks, from clean standard boards to my “100 Wall” where the craziest and complex boards sit, waiting for the right project.






Do you have a print, canvas or art piece you’ve been itching to have framed? Send me an email and we can chat about how to best incorporate the wood I find into your next project!

Until next time!

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- A century in the making -