I alluded to this briefly in my post entitled, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”.
I’ve always been fascinated by Art Deco. Ever since grade school, I felt a connection to the typefaces and design atheistics of Art Deco. More recently, I became interested in Steampunk.
Circumstances in the past year led to me to lose a lot of things. I lost most of my furniture, lamps, decorations, some tools, etc. Starting over with very little extra money has sparked my creativity.
I don’t have the money to just replace what was taken. I can’t build nice furniture because I can’t afford hardwoods, or really any wood of any kind. I was able to pick up a used washer, dryer and refrigerator. I’m still looking for a couch, but am unable to just walk into a furniture store and buy one.
Honestly, if it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not. This has been a life changing experience and I’ve enjoyed nearly every minute of it. I don’t like it when there is too much month at the end of the money, but we’re coping. I love my kids and have found being a single dad to be the most enjoyable time of my life.
These limitations have led me to recycling and reusing what was useless. A can of black paint changes a tarnished or rusted outdoor wall sconce into something very nice.
An old yard light, some iron pipe and new wire becomes a floor and reading lamp. Railroad spikes and pallet wood becomes a coat rack.
I’ve updated the pulls and knobs on the oak furniture I made over 20 years ago the same way. I also changed a feminine wrought iron head and foot board into something black and more masculine.
Need a shelf, build one, don’t buy. A bookcase? Build. Paint? Buy the mixing mistakes from the hardware store and use. Add plaster of Paris to give it a chalk finish if you want.
My design philosophy startled with reusing what was at hand. It became industrial when I started taking inventory of what was available.
The Internet and Pinterest have been a huge help with ideas. Right now, I’m trying to build things cheaper than I can buy. That is a limitation, but for now a good one.
I’m going to end this post with one of my favorite quotes:
"If necessity is the mother of invention, then profit is the father."
While I wait for some stain to dry overnight before I put a finish on my latest little project, I thought I’d list a few of the items I’ve been using and my rationale for building things with used and discarded materials.
My lack of tools has forced me into a very narrow niche of things to build. I’m lacking a table saw, jig saw, power planer, saw horses, a welder, torch and metal cutoff saw.
The metal working tools aren’t a very big deal, but their absence severely limits what I can do with metal. I’d really like to have a pipe threader, but WOW those things are costly.
No table saw and a dearth of places to buy hardwoods is severely limiting what furniture I can build.
That led me to pallets and whatever else I can come across for wood. I asked a couple local businesses that throw away their pallets if I could have some. Sometimes they have an off take agreement with someone and many times the pallets are returned to the original shipper. That seems to be especially true of the blue ones, which is fine because I don’t want a painted blue pallet.
I also got lucky after the high school Homecoming parade when I found a lot of 2x4s in a dumpster near the school. There’s enough for a 2’ by 4’ work bench and a smaller 2’ x 18” rolling power tool bench. I still need some used plywood or chipboard for the work surfaces and lower shelf.
I’m still looking for a good source of metal junk. I’m too new to the area to know who would allow me to go picking.
Lack of tools and materials has led me to discover the industrial inspired design, which I found I like, allowed me be creative and use whatever I could find.
I have a variety of tools of different brands. My sander is Craftsman, the drill is Milwaukee, Router is Craftsman, Delta miter saw, etc. I’ve not been picky, but I come to the conclusion that Milwaukee is my favorite, Black and Decker are inexpensive, a fine choice for a homeowner, but basically disposable, Delta is good, Craftsman seems to be right in there with Delta.
DeWalt is an “industrial” line from Black and Decker. I’ve only used a DeWalt electrical impact driver, so I’m not a good judge on their quality. My uneducated perception is DeWalt is between Delta and Milwaukee. They seem to be available in every lumberyard helping their popularity.
Just a word about hardware stores. First, I love them—more than a Lowes or Home Depot. I can actually get a floor person at Ace who’s not an imbicle. Ace hardware stores are locally owned. I like their store brands of paint and small tools. I have a GREAT one down the street open SEVEN DAYS A WEEK! That is with no competition from Home Depot or Lowes. They are open 7:30 AM to 9:00 PM Monday-Saturday. Sunday they close “early”, at 7:00 PM! They’ve bailed my out repeatedly and helped me finish a project in the evening.
Minwax Finishing Wax, Minwax Early American stain, Kleen-Strip spray finish remover, steel wool, Ace Hardware Premium Flat Black spray paint.
These were the products of necessity. I can justify new hardware, so I paint the old. I don’t have spray finishing equipment or a clean shop, so I use the finishing wax.
There is a great deal of satisfaction that comes with recycling materials into a new creation that I hadn’t experienced before.