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Choosing and Using Reclaimed Wood

DIY Hester van Overbeek mixed media techniques

Using reclaimed wood is a great way of making unique and stylish DIY furniture for hardly any cost! There are so many upcycling options to choose from, so we've turned to Hester Van Overbeek and her new book Made with Salvaged Wood, to find out which kinds of reclaimed wood are best to use and what you can do them...

 Made with Salvaged Wood

DOORS—I love using old doors. You can pick them up at a reclamation yard for peanuts and, for me, the older and more damaged, the better. As you probably won’t be using them as doors, a little damage here and there will not matter but will add heaps of charm to your build.


CRATES —find these at flea markets, in reclamation yards, and in vintage stores. I like using genuine old ones, but you can also find some great bargain replica ones. Just make sure the sides of the crate are strong enough for its intended use, as new ones are often made from very thin ply.


FLOORBOARDS —probably my favorite salvaged timber most have great patina. Floorboards are often painted, and you might even find some once used in a gymnasium sports hall with court markings. Floorboards come different thicknesses and widths, and most projects require ones of a similar size.


PALLET WOOD —pallets have become the upcycling staple in recent years and a quick online search will show you a heap of builds you can make from the humble pallet. Made from many different kinds of wood, these are easy use and often have great marks on them. Just make sure the pallet you want to use hasn’t been treated with chemicals and remove all nails and tags before handling.


EVERYDAY OBJECTS —broom handles, wooden chopping boards, and spindles are great to turn into other objects. As long as it is made of wood, you can use it to build with.


LOGS AND BRANCHES —if you have done some pruning your garden, you may find yourself left with a collection branches. Let them dry out and turn them into materials for your builds. Logs, sticks, and branches need be dried out before use, but wood that dries too quickly has a tendency to split. When looking for logs, select the driest ones and check for mold. Leave the log in your workshop, shed, or attic for six months to cure it. Most bugs live under the bark, you may want to debark it. You can also use a steamer kill bugs and bacteria. If your project is for outdoor use, you don’t have to worry about cleaning it, but make sure you don’t bring any bugs into your home if you want to use the item indoors.


DRIFTWOOD —aged by salty seawater, driftwood has lovely texture and is great in decorative projects. I live the sea, but my beach hardly ever has driftwood, so buy it online. Driftwood needs to be cleaned and dried properly before use and, by purchasing it, somebody else has done this for you. You can boil small pieces of driftwood in a big pot of water to make sure all bacteria are dead.


HARDBOARD —this is a bit like a thin MDF, but made with older process. Hardboard has a hard smooth side and soft corrugated side, and is not very strong.


For more upcycling DIY inspiration and projects, check out Made with Salvaged Wood by Hester Van Overbeek.


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