Cleaning up grimy reclaimed wood (and not using a power washer!)

Q: I reclaimed 500 square ft of Douglas fir from an abandoned building. It has black grime in the tongue and groove. I’ve tried numerous tools and the best thing I have found so far is a toothbrush and elbow grease! Can I power wash it? If not, what do you suggest?

A: 500 Feet of old, well seasoned Douglas fir is a great find. It is very nice to work with, sand, stain and finish. You ask about taking this well seasoned, dry and stable wood and soaking it with a pressure washer? Soaking wood is a big no-no. You don’t want to ruin the wood, which can tend to warp, twist and split as it dries. I would get a yellow handled scraper (Richard) with the double edge blade and a fine tooth file to sharpen it and just run the scraper down the top and bottom of the tongues. You just want to clean it up so the boards fit together, right? The tongue and groove are never meant to be seen again once everything is nailed together. They don’t have to look pretty but only clean of debris.

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