Last fall homebase, minovia and I went back to an old shed on our old Farragut farm and checked out some barn boards that had been salvaged and stored before they burned the barn on our Riverton farm. We moved off that land when I was 12 so we're talking about 24 years of sitting and collecting dust. But they looked like they had potential so we put on the work gloves, laid down the seats in my Jeep and started piling them in. We ended up being able to get a dozen full 1x12 boards in there with a couple more partial ones.
They sat in the garage for a while until a fairly warm day in November when I got out a bucket, a bristle brush, some heavy duty latex gloves, dish detergent and some Borax and went to town on them. I had read some blog posts about the best way to clean vintage boards but I noticed very quickly that I would have to scale back my scorched earth cleaning style. I have no idea how old the paint on these boards was or even how old the boards themselves were and I could easily have scrubbed down to bare wood with little effort. So I made a gentler mix of less Borax and switched out the coarse bristle brush for a rag. From there on in things went great. There was a lot of dirt that had embedded itself into the wood over the years. And the untreated raw boards soaked up water like a sponge. When I got finished I stacked the boards in the garage again, this time with spacers to let them fully dry out.
After that it was just a matter of deciding on something to do with them!
So, the rainy weekend we had a couple weeks ago provided a great opportunity for working on indoor projects so I thought I'd tackle the "measuring board" project I'd seen on Pinterest. I looked around on a bunch of different blogs and got my plan down and set to work.
With my first mark of the paint pen, I realized I was going to have to do something different. The wood was so open and dry that the ink just bled like crazy, even when I switched from the Sharpie Paint Pen to a Sanford King marker. So I got some Minwax clear finish and painted the board with it. I let that dry for a day and then tried it again. Perfect. The sealant provided a barrier so the wood wouldn't soak up the ink like crazy but still let the character of the board out. I used 1" marks for the inches, 2" for the quarter foot marks, 3" for the half foot and 4" for the foot marks. I used a projector to shine Century Schoolbook numbers onto the board, and they are about 4" tall. I traced them there and then filled them in with the Sharpie Paint Pen. After it was all finished and dry, I hit it lightly with some 400 sand paper to take just a touch of the shine of the sealant off.
Now I just need to hang it somewhere (six inches off the floor) and it will be ready to use!