I am building a stone barn and have just acquired an assortment of very old oak and other hardwood beams (with nails, dirt, the lot) to be used to construct the barn roof. A lot of this wood is filthy with lots of rot and dead wood. I need an incredible rough type of tool/angle grinder to rip out this old materiel. I will then use a belt sander to finish them off. I just need to know how to clean up the really rough bits.

I have seen a kind of "cheese grater" finish disc which might work well but can't find out where to buy them.

Anyone with experience/ideas?

  • No personal experience with them, but King Arthur Tools has a broad selection of carbide sanding discs that attach to an angle grinder. I'd also look into a metal detector to be able to anticipate some of the embedded metal.Don't forget the body armor and the full face shield. – Aloysius Defenestrate Jun 13 '15 at 15:51

You have a pile of wood that needs to be turned back into lumber.

As they are to be structural, the beams should be resawn until there are no "rough bits" left. Digging the rot out of a beam makes that beam no thicker than its narrowest point; a weak link. The whole beam should be resawn to its narrowest dimension where there's rot. Effectively, that's how thick it is anyway.

Whatever tools you use should say nail embedded wood, or just use metal cutting blades. Sanding nail embedded wood just takes a lot of paper and patience. A quick once over with a standard grinding wheel might save you a lot of paper. Pull or set as many nails as possible.

What you're asking for, which I do not suggest, is probably (diamond) granite grinding wheels. They're liable to catch on a nail and make for a really bad day.

I would suggest trying a grinding bit for drills, a grindstone bit that will turn your drill into a gigantic Dremel tool. Again, make sure that what you're left with is acceptable structurally, at its narrowest point.

If you want to preserve that old look and not re-saw them, consider sand blasting them. IMO, re-sawing or blasting is the only way to really see what you're dealing with (without wasting a lot of time and paper), especially if they're as bad as you say they are.

An expensive option is to have them professionally planed. I say professionally (expensive) because you would ruin yours, and they will charge you for a blade replacement on theirs, regardless of its condition afterwards.

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If it is only nails, pull them out with a crowbar or break them off and set them. If it is only dirt, a power washer will get them clean.

Be careful how strong the power washer is, it will cut into the wood and damage it, if held in one place too long.

Do not use wood with any rot. Cut it shorter so there is no rot or do as Mazura suggests. He has good advice.

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