Some places selling items made from reclaimed wood love to brag about the rarity of the wood they use. (Yeah, I’m looking your way, Restoration Hardware.) I always get a kick out of reading those catalog descriptions, which usually go something like this: “This magnificent coffee table was made with beautifully aged boards from a historic 200-year-old Quaker farmhouse,” or “This exquisite footstool was made with the rarest wood known to man; actual boards from the deck of Noah’s Ark.” (Okay, maybe that one is a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.)

Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s really groovy that your coffee table was made with wood from an old barn that General Custer urinated on right before Sitting Bull kicked his butt at Little Bighorn (just Google “Little Bighorn,” kids, and while you’re at it, Google “groovy”), but when you get right down to it, is your authentic “Custer Pee-Pee” coffee table prettier than one made with distressed wood from an old ranch in Central California? Does your fancy-shmancy coffee table keep your coffee hotter or display your magazines better than a coffee table made with weathered fence boards from a 50-year old corral? Is your $1,500 coffee table more durable or more appreciated or more enjoyed than my $250 coffee table?

Just a few things to think about before you buy your next reclaimed-wood item.

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