I was messing about outside my shed today doing a bit of clean-up when I noticed one of the sleepers in the garden. It's been laying on the ground outside for many years, according to past owners. For at least 20 years anyway.
I inspected it closely and I can't see any cracks or defects which is amazing considering the extremes of weather we have here. The termites haven't even attempted to eat it. It is unused and about 4300mm long. It's most probably Jarrah.
I'm a rabid recycler (because I'm unemployed) and can't see any reason why I shouldn't use this good looking piece of wood. Is this too good to be true? Could this sleeper be treated with some sort of poison?
Considering the age of the sleeper, it could be treated with penta or creosote. I am slighty familiar with creosote, but had never heard of penta until coming to Missouri. For all I know they could be just different names for the same thing. From what I have read about creosote, you might have a mess on your hands if you try to turn the sleeper into usable lumber.
Hopefully, someone on this forum can tell you more than I can.
When I read "Penta" there a word popped into my head - pentachlorphenol. Looked it up & whattaya know - I was right. Funny, the stuff that gets lodged between the ears sometimes.
Pentachlorphenol is very different from creosote, but either could really make a mess out of things for you. So could any of a wide variety of other chemicals that could have been added to your "miracle" wood.
If you do decide to cut it open, please wait a good long time for it to dry out thoroughly first - then use the best dust mask you can buy - and cut it outdoors. Finally, be prepared to find that it's not nearly as good inside as it looks outside. I'm not saying that'll be the case, just be prepared.
If it's been lasting outdoors for that long, maybe it'd be good for an outdoor project of some kind. I'd be hesitant about building something intended for indoor use without knowing for sure what chemicals may have been used on it.
By the way, WHERE do you live that you might have a chunk of wood such as that in your yard??? I know you couldn't possibly live anywhere near me... :)
Normally sleepers are sold off as landscape materials when they are replaced. If you have a used tie (as they are called in Canada) it will probably have stones, sand, nails, and lots of other tool edge eating materials imbedded in it. Here we only cut them with someone elses chainsaw.
My call is to leave it lie and point it out to people. "That's Jarra you know. I have so much, I leave it lieing in the garden."
I think I should explain. I live in a small town in the north-west of Australia, slap bang in the middle of cyclone alley. We normally feel the effects of up to 5 cyclones a year. Temperatures here are something like Death Valley but without the views. I bought this house about two years ago. It was built over 40 years ago by the main roads dept as overnight quarters for workers. The house, outside laundry and generator shed (empty now we have mains power) are all constructed of 2x4 Jarrah as was the habit back in those days. It would almost be worth demolishing the house for the seasoned wood if it wasn't for the fact that it seems to have turned into organic steel!
Over the years, subsequent owners haven't had to do much to the place despite the extreme weather. The sleepers in the garden are 50/50; half are termie husks and the rest look like brand new. Even the back pergola is built from the cyclone proof sleepers. I figure the long sleeper has been treated with something but here it could be anything from sump oil to cyanide. It's going to stay where it is as it's too heavy to lift, anyhow (see, I can speak your lingo).
As a city boy I could never see the sense in building a house out of wood until I saw this one. Over the years it has withstood winds of up to 300kph regularly and it's fairly high and exposed too! I'm sold on wood now.
And I haven't even mentioned that the woodshop (garage) is built from C Section Steel and Jarrah lengths over 7000mm long. Ugly but indestructable!
A pergola is like... I have no idea what you seppos would call it. It's a series of posts with cross members done in a decorative way? Ideal for covering with shadecloth and parking 'er indoors' motor under because she can't get it into the shed because it's full of my wood stuff and motorbikes.
Just yesterday, we used clamps after glue simply to take the bow out of the wood we were using, and it straightened everything out for us. Usually though, any time you lay up a project the clamps are...