05 Jun

Clementine Crate Birdhouse

Clementines make winter seem shorter and they are very tasty. I go through a bunch of them when they are in season. So, I had several of clementine crates sitting around that I could not throw away. What to do with them? Hmmmm.

A birdhouse, yeah, that’s it. Can’t say if a house made out of these light wood crates will last in the weather, but it is worth a try. With a sturdy roof made out of an old license plate, they just might.

I used a power saw to cut the crates because I have one, but a hand saw or even an Exacto knife might work to cut the thin plywood. The corner pillar pieces are used at length, so there is no cutting required. An electric drill is also helpful in this project.

The slideshow below shows the major steps to assembling a birdhouse from these raw materials. If you have questions, just leave a comment or email me.

 

On the question of what to use for a perch: it is up to you. I used an old cabinet pull on one example and a coat hanger on the one shown in the slideshow. This is where you can get creative. Use whatever you like. I would suggest you keep it light because the plywood of the crates is thin.

To finish or not to finish: I used a single coat of polyurethane finish on the outside of this birdhouse because I had some leftover and I thought it might help weatherize the structure a bit. For your creation, it is your call.

Finally, if you should try to do this at home, I would love to see pictures of your creations. Send me a picture or connect with me on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter to share.

11 Apr

Busy in the Kitchen

Green Kitchen Remodel


So, lately I have been lax in building anything in the workshop that was not part of improvements to my house. It has been months, but I hope to get back to furniture soon.

Over the past year I have redone my kitchen from a ’70s tragedy to a lighter, greener, retro-modern workspace. The change was significant enough that a writer friend pitched the story to HGTV. They liked it enough to send a stylist and photographer and the resultant story was published to HGTVRemodels.com. The piece, “A Kitchen Crafted for the Eco-Friendly”, features really great shots of my kitchen redo. Note: they stretched the main photo horizontally making me look a bit wider than normal. Not happy about it!

This project included plumbing, flooring, cabinetry, counter-tops, tile, electrical, and lots of painting. Some of it was a bit intimidating, but nothing was so daunting that it couldn’t be tackled if broken down into smaller pieces.

The anchors were a granite composite sink I found marked down at a box store and a very green counter-top material made of plastic and recycled paper that the manufacturer compared to Bakelight. It is a cool product that can be cut and milled very similar to wood. I found it handles much like hard maple.

Other hooks that sold the story were probably the low budget, the do-it-myself angle, and the before pictures I had taken during the process. The stylist did a great job of giving me better kitchen equipment than I actually have. I am proud that she liked my cafe table and chairs and left them in the shoot. The photographer made everything look great and my friend the writer caught the essence of what I was trying to do. A great experience!

23 Jan

Bikes Made from Recycled Wood

I love this video piece on a couple guys who take discarded or salvaged wood and turn them into one-of-a-kind bikes. Sometimes the wood comes from urban arborists who have to trim trees around power lines and other times it comes from discarded lumber. Whatever the source the finished pieces are beautiful, fully functional, and will turn heads on the road.

Sorry, but they make you watch an ad before the video starts.

21 Feb

Kid in a Candy Store

Southern Accents

Remember what that was like? Remember the awe and wonder you felt seeing so many wonderful things all in one place? The anticipation and decision making involved in choosing from so many options?

This is the essence of a visit to Southern Accents Architectural Antiques in Cullman, AL, for me and I would bet for anybody who fixes or builds furniture or does restoration. SA is a museum of architectural history and oddities that you can touch—and take home with you.

I am always amazed at what I see when I get to visit. I know I am going to see salvaged doors, mantles, shutters, leaded glass, claw-foot tubs, hinges, door knobs, and newel posts. All really wonderful handcrafted items with history and character. But there is always at least one thing that is totally random.

On a recent trip with a friend, I was not disappointed. She was there to find a claw-foot tub for a new home build. I was there because I never miss a chance to visit. I don’t know the number of items they have there, but it has to be hundreds of thousands, if you count all the hinges, antique keys, and drawer pulls. We browsed through rooms and rooms of salvaged materials and most of it I had seen the like of there or somewhere else.

But as I said, there is always at least one thing that is weirdly out of place—if you are in the market for a 5 foot tall concrete Chinese lion, they have one for sale.

26 May

Pickin’ up the trash

One of the hazards of being a recycling woodworker is the drive by pick up. Sometimes it is worth an immediate stop and sometimes it sticks with you and you have to go back for a closer look. It all depends on what part is broken or in need of repair, what tools you have and what the cost of replacement parts or materials might be.

Sometimes it is a wasted trip upon a closer look–such was the case today. A rocker along side the road at 35 mph looked like a repairable thing, but at a dead stop it was too far gone to be worth it. Sometimes you get lucky–like the time I grabbed an Adirondack chair off a trash pile and all it needed was some sanding, screw tightening, and a new finish. Bonanza!