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CUSTOMER PHOTOS & PROJECTS
Letters .. Letters .. Letters .. Letters .. Letters .. Letters
CREOSOTE AND SLEEPERS
Could you help me. I am told that it is illegal to use sleepers in the garden (because of Europe.. so I am minded not to comply) but I need 10 to terrace my garden.
K. Fear not, the knock on the door by the special branch is unlikely to follow your use of creosoted railway sleepers in the garden ! They haven't been banned, only restricted - 1) you can't eat off them 2) you can't use them for children's play areas (or areas of frequent skin contact) 3) You can't use them inside a house. So, you should have no problem using them as a terrace.
FOR FURNITURE ?
We are are a small furniture design studio in Israel. We use old railway sleepers to build some of our home and garden furniture. Some sleepers are used whole and some are cut in different ways. Lately we heard about the dangerous CREOSOTE used as pesticides. We are both exposed to saw and sanding dust in the workplace and are concerned about the possible hazard to our customers. We saw your web site and are hopeful that you can advice us on some matters What procations are you taking while handeling, cuting and sanding the sleepers? Do you know if coating the wood with varnish makes it safe to be used as a furniture? Dose the strong odor coming from some sleepers indicates the level of toxicity? Is using dust musk while cutting and sanding the Is it O.K. to put these furniture in the house or only outdoors? We have no access to reliable information in Israel and will be very happy if you can help us. You are also welcome to visit our site www.nimrodeilam.co.il (the railway sleepers furniture are presented only in the Hebrew part) Thank you for taking the time to read our mail
Yours Sincerely Harel Nadav
K. Thankyou for your e-mail, and quite excellent pictures. We will put them on our website, as examples of your studio's work. We have visited your great site and find your design and creativity very impressive. Both simple and stylish.
It's hard to answer accurately your questions. Firstly because we are not doctors or scientists, and secondly because there is not much written about the effects of creosote. So please don't take our opinions as hard evidence !
1) Creosote has been happily used for hundreds of years. It is only in the last three months in Europe, that there has been restrictions on the use of sleepers that have been creosote treated. (see our article on 'Sleeper treatments')
2) The European restrictions say that creosoted sleepers should not be used where there may be 'frequent skin contact', risk of 'food contamination', or 'inside houses'. However they can still be used for many landscaping, construction etc.. purposes.
3) In terms of ourselves, we use gloves when handling sleepers, and are wary of inhalation of sawdust whilst cutting, as one would be with any type of timber. We only cut them outside. We don't sand them, although customers do do this, as well as sand blasting them, and pressure washing them. I don't know whether the stronger the smell indicates that a sleeper is more 'dangerous'. However, it is true that older sleepers tend to smell less, as though the creosote has weakened or evaporated.
4) Should you use creosoted sleepers as furniture ? Fortunately, or unfortunately the decision has already made for us by the European Parliament. We're not allowed to use creosoted railway sleepers as furniture. However, we have in the past quite happily used them inside houses. The issue then was merely whether there was surface tar, oil or creosote to make it impractical or unpleasant to use as a seat (for example), or whether the smell was too nasty to have inside. The conclusion is that you can make furniture out of used railway sleepers that are untreated (e.g. Jarra, Azobe, Oak etc..) or treated in an un-creosoted way (e.g. salt-treated russian bulkheads, or tannalised pine) or use new untreated sleepers.
5) I don't know whether varnishing the surface of the sleeper would 'seal' the creosote inside. I doubt it.
Hello, I have seen many purveyors of furniture made from railway sleepers, specifically coffee tables. I'd very much like to own one, but am a little reluctant to pay the sometimes astronomical prices asked for such items. I therefore had the idea that i wuold buy my own sleepers (from a reclamation yard) and create my own furniture. I then read on your site that the original treatment of such timbers make most of the old oak sleepers unsuitable for such a use. Can you advise me if there are any sleepers that may be suitable for my requirements? Do I need to do something with the timbers that make them suitable for indoor use and is this why furniture companies charge so much for their stock? thanks in advance Marc
K. It's a big rip-off world out there... so what's new ! There's lots of sleepers, new and old, that might be suitable. New is more straightforward because they are straighter, and not treated with anything nasty - so, Baltic Pine, French oak or African Azobe. Used would mean Russian Bulkheads (salt treated), or Jarra (untreated) or some untreated unused seasoned reject dutch oak. Best thing is to come and chose and take them away with you.
Hello First of all I have to say what a fantastic website you have and how much I enjoyed browsing it, and so easy to use also. I didn't realise that there were that many different sleepers available - my local timber yards had one variety of the reclaimed stuff and only two choices of the new sleepers (brown or green..hhmm??) so I was very glad to stumble upon your website.
some advice, please could you inform me which are the best Railway Sleepers
to use for decking (popular), and do you have them in stock. Paul
K. Thanks for your e-mail A hard question to answer because it depends on the look you are wanting. From a practical construction point of view, handling, cutting and staining, it is easier to use new sleepers - either French oak, Baltic pine,S.African Karri or African Azobe. They tend to be straighter, and don't have tar or creosote weeping out of them in the summer. They will age and 'character' over the coming years, and last for decades. If you plump for used sleepers, you get bags of character and weathering, but likewise you may have a tar problem if the sleepers were originally creosoted. Likewise the surface of the deck will be more uneven and aged (which after all is one of the reasons for using them instead of conventional decking !)
|Recent news item: 'Last week we were offered railway sleepers from Zimbabwe (described as 'Rhodesian', a dubious anacronism in itself). Should we buy or boycott railway sleepers from Zimbabwe ? Is buying them supporting a corrupt regime, and empowering Mugabe, or does it enable trade, and the trickle down effect to those empoverished ? If you feel strongly, let us know your thoughts'.|
Dear K, What an enjoyable
site! It took me a wee while to transition from suspicion - this site has
to be a spoof - through incredulity - it appears to be legit - to having a
ball reading around what you have. I can barely believe you can make a site
about railway sleepers, for crying out loud - no offence - so lively! Anyway,
A reader replies... Dear K, I don't think
you should buy them because it ain't that ecological to transport them all
that way here. They can be used locally for something that helps the local
Your letter could be pride of place
Dear K, Just wanted to say hi, found your
website to have great humour and very professional to boot (think you could
show many pro-designers a thing or too). Great attitude and brilliant ethos
... hope to see you soon! Regards
Dear K. Just thought I would send you
an email to show you what I did with the Azobe sleepers I bought in Jan. The
wood worked very well, though the final table did weigh in at 120kg! My
next project.... making a bed. Best regards,
Hi Jerry, thanks for your response.
we have now been told elsewhere that CCA treated poles should not be used
for play equipment, what is your advise? Best Regards
Dear K, I'm wondering if you can help us.
we've just had our garden landscaped and have 2 large flights of steps made
from old railway sleepers which have already started leaking tar in the recent
warm weather - no one warned us that this would happen. the contractor has
merely told us to throw sand over the tar but this doesn't stop it getting
on your shoes etc. is there a product that will seal them or do you have any
tips which you would be willing to share with us? many thanks,
Dear K, I see from your WEB site that you
sell Azobe railway sleepers. I am a member of the International Woodcollectors
Society and, as you may guess, collect wood! I've been keen to add Azobe to
my collection for some time. This is probably a long shot (I appreciate it
would be a tiny order) but is there any chance you'd be able to supply me
with an off-cut, say 8" long? It doesn't have to be perfect, just sound. If
you could supply this, a note of the cost including postage to Southeast Scotland,
would be very much appreciated. I only wish I lived nearer and could visit!
Dear K, We are thrilled with the sleepers
you delivered last Friday. The delivery driver was incredibly prompt (you
said approx 10am and he arrived 10.01). He managed to unload 10 sleepers on
his own and stacked them really neatly in our side access alleyway. As we
live on a fairly busy main road I was nervous about leaving £300 of sleepers
on display so my husband and I carried them round the back that evening -
how heavy? We spent most of Saturday digging them in and by Sunday afternoon
had completed planting the new raised beds. They whole effect is great and
we have told all our friends about your website. The only snag is that my
husband overestimated the number we would need and we have 2 left over! Any
ideas for garden sculptures ...? Caroline Glover
I Thought I would drop you a quick line,
I found you web site after searching for railway sleepers on MSN Search I
must say how impressed I am with it , very, very informative. with a little
bit of fun , sound advise etc etc EXCELLENT !! Iíll contact you when Iím in
the market. All the best Umesh
K, How can we get rid of seeping tar from sleepers ?
K. You can't. Well, not satisfactorily. That's why we advise non-tar treated sleepers* For spots on clothes and children you can buy a tar dissolving solution.
K. says: Replace them !
*CLICK ON Railway Sleeper Treatments for more details
K, After delivering 23 sleepers to us at Easter, it took us 10 days, start
to finish, with the help of 2 or 3 'good friends', who strangely enough we
don't seem to have seen much of since then - I think they said something about
'chiropractors' and 'back strain'. It looks absolutely brill - just like the
artwork. Since then we've done loads of bopping about at 2 in the morning
on the sleepers, and everyone who sees it says how effective, wonderfully
timesaving and thoroughly enjoyable it is. We've had no trouble whatsoever
with leaking tar, & the cats think the sleepers are excellent for avoiding
the gravel !! All in all, a fantastic success, and when I get a minute from
eating and drinking outdoors I will send a photo. Thanks again for just being
there, on the 'net' with your sleepers.
K, I would like to complement you on every aspect of your service. The website
is well-designed, easy-to-use and informative. The service is quick - our order
arrived 2 days after we placed it. The guy was friendly and didn't mind (I don't
think) that I didn't offer to help! The sleepers are just what we were after,
as described and I think the prices, including for delivery, are very reasonable.
I will definitely recommend you, I only feel disappointed that I am unlikely
to need any more myself in the near future (although we are moving house soon!)
It's great to do business with such an efficient company. I hope to do more
business with you in the future. Ben Ackroyd
K. Thankyou very much for your great words. We don't always get it right, but when we do it's great to hear !
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