Throwback Thursday: Cheap and Easy Wood Preservation

Scientists are problem-solvers, and a common problem that arose decades ago was the lack of availability (and affordability) of preservative-treated wood in rural communities.

The following, from John W. Koning, Jr.’s comprehensive book Forest Products Laboratory, 1910–2010: Celebrating a Century of Accomplishments, shows two great examples of creative solutions to this wood preservation problem.

Koning wrote, “FPL scientists researched simple, low-cost treatment methods that could be used by farmers and small businesses or in isolated ares. Simple methods, such as steeping or soaking fence posts in barrels, were improved when researchers demonstrated the practicality and effectiveness of hot-and-cold bath treatments with creosote and other oil-type preservatives.”

Tire-tube treatment

Tire-tube treatment, 1930’s

The “tire tube treatment” for the preservation of fence posts involved placing sections of tight-fitting inner tubes over the butt ends of freshly cut posts. Preservative poured into the tubes displaced the sap withing the posts.

Wood fence posts could also be treated using the low-cost double diffusion method.

Double diffusion treatment

Double diffusion treatment, 1950’s

A previous Lab Notes post featured a study comparing different wood species’ ability to retain preservatives through soaking.