How to Use Recycled Products to Build Your Own Furniture


You get a certain sort of pleasure from taking old, unused or abandoned items and making them new again. Besides preventing unneeded items from filling up dumps and landfills, you can breathe new life into an old dresser, a set of chairs and even headboards. You'd be surprised how many interesting pieces of furniture you can build by simply using recycled products -- and you'll like the price tag too -- a little bit of work and not that much out of pocket.

Think Outside the Lines

  • Get creative to come up with ways to repurpose an item into a piece of furniture. An old wine barrel sanitized and laid horizontally with a cutout, legs and a cushion added to it becomes a one-of-a-kind chair. Old chair backs with half the seat cut off and its legs removed becomes an interesting shelf on the wall. Hung upside-down, it becomes a different kind of bathroom rack for towels and bathroom supplies. Vintage wooden soda containers quickly transform into a curio shelf when cleaned and hung on the wall.

Secondhand Finds

  • One of the easiest ways to recycle used goods into new and interesting furniture starts with finding items at yard sales, estate sales, thrift stores and secondhand stores. For example, a dresser and a highboy from the 1970s made from thick pine wood and sporting elaborate edgy curves may look out of date and unappealing. But when you strip them down and remove the carved detailed edges by cutting and sanding them smooth, you create a whole new look for bedroom furniture. Sand, stain, varnish and outfit them with porcelain and nickel drawer handles and pulls.

Recycled Chairs

  • A pair of old chairs becomes a new bench for your home, your deck or your porch that would command a high price if you had to buy it. Just find two chairs with interesting detailed backs with at least the back legs intact; don't worry about the seat or front legs, as these come off. Face the chairs together, and add a cleat to each chair between the legs to support a bench between them. Finish the bench by adding a back, or leave it open, as desired. Sand, stain and varnish or paint for a custom look.

Headboard Sofa

  • Even old headboard and foot boards that have seen a lot of wear can be turned into something new: a bench or a sofa. Start by cutting the foot board in half equally, and join the cut-off sides perpendicular to the headboard at each end. These now become the arms of your new sofa. Add a support attached to the back and sides, such as a 3/4-inch thick piece of plywood or even 1-by-12 pine boards. Pick up a piece of upholstery foam and cut to fit the seat area of the couch. Sew a cover from the fabric of your choice for informal furniture that fits well almost anywhere.

Horizontal Doors

  • Old doors don't have to go to the dump or the burn pile; instead, turn them into hanging headboards above the bed or make a desktop for your office. You can use the door in its standard size or cut it to fit. For an office area, secure the door to two two-drawer filing cabinets on either end with carriage or through bolts drilled through the wood and file cabinets.

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