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I've got access to cheap scaffolding boards. Using those and a planer/thicknesser, are there any downsides to trying to use them in flooring or biscuit-jointed as worktops? I've installed normal flooring before (both engineered and tongue-and-groove), and this looks like it'll be simpler if the boards are straightened and squared.

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  • One major drawback to used wood is that there are often nails or screws. If these were used to walk on, there can also be rocks embedded in the surface. Planing will remove these, but any non-wood material that you hit will dull, damage or destroy your planer knifes. Make sure you run a metal detector over all sides of each board, and make sure the surfaces are scoured to pull rocks/gravel out of them. There are quite a few "used wood" questions on Woodworking that would be good for you to browse.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 10:50
  • Thanks - I've been looking at prices and compared to £40-50+ for flooring, the ~£10 of even new scaffold boards is appealing. I did think briefly about how to rip down the thickness of the board to make a 26mm scaffold board into two 12mm pieces, as this would really make cost-effective flooring. I'll take a look at the other pages, many scaffolders seem to get rid of all their boards due to regulation so the used ones being free or near-free may be a fair tradeoff.
    – dochero
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 11:49
  • Additionally, "rip down the thickness" is called "resawing". For something the width of what I'm thinking of as a "scaffold board" you'll need a band saw to make the cuts, as a table saw won't have the depth of cut to do what you want. You'll probably need a saw with upwards of a 300mm depth of cut, and you're starting to get into expensive tools there. Unless you A) already have the saw, B) know someone who does, or C) are looking to start your toy, er, tool collection, consider this cost as part of your total floor cost.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 12:05
  • You'll also need tools (either a dado blade on the table saw, or a T&G bit set on a router) to do the tongue & groove if you're going to go that way for flooring. I'm not trying to dissuade you, just give you other things to consider when looking to go the "cheaper" route. (Oh, those cutters may need to be resharpened/replaced on the way to making enough flooring to make a whole floor, too.)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 12:06
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    Well, then, break out the checkbook and bring on the toys, er, tools! Also, connect your account to Woodworking, as you'll have lots of questions that will be much better suited for over there! (And, take the tour so you can get the most out of both sites and get some badges redeemable for unicorns and rainbows!)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 12:34

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I wouldn't recommend using scaffolding boards as a worktop in a kitchen. Most scaffolding boards in the UK at least are made of Tanalised (pressure treated) timber. Tanalith E 8000 is the trade name of the preservative used and it is not recommended for use where there is direct contact between food/water and the treated timber since it is water soluble.

Furthermore many scaffolding boards will be covered in concrete and mortar from their use which might have effected the longevity of the timber (wood doesn't like the highly alkaline and moist environment before the concrete/mortar cures). Any residual concrete/mortar will shed your planer knives so be careful. This is in addition to any nails or screw present.

Finally most scaffolding is flat sawn and may contain the heart of the tree. Since most boards are quite wide and long they may be unstable and warp especially if they have got soaked throughout their life by being sat out in rain. Video showing different types of cut/grain orientation

As in many things there is probably no one size fits all approach. The timber doesn't know what it was used for in it's past life nor it's future life. If the scaffolding boards are in mint condition, untreated and stable they should work quite well as a worktop. If they were sat out in the rain for the last 5 years and used by bricklayers 6 days a week then they probably won't be much good for flooring or a worktop.

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