Reclaimed Wood Projects

Last year the co-conspirator and I did some major refurbishing of our deck to fix a design flaw that has bugged me for twenty years. In the process, we ended up replacing most of the decking boards. The old boards were still mostly in decent condition except for rotten ends. Except for that and the old screw holes, we had a good pile of acceptable wood that we had once paid a decent amount of money for. I decided to salvage what I could for a few little projects to enhance our outdoor living space on the deck.

Boards Ripped Boards

Since someone won’t let me have a table saw I used a guide on our circular saw to rip the deck boards into 1” and 2” strips. I used a CAD program to design the different pieces so I knew ahead of time that everything would line up and work the way I intended. The boards are an even inch thick so dimensioning the different components was simple. To make thicker boards for table legs I glued together two boards with waterproof carpenter’s glue.

Plant Bench

The first project was a pair of narrow tables to hold the different potted herbs and ornamental plants I like to grow each year. The taller one is shown here with a pot stand.  The other one is six inches shorter so the plants are displayed better. As you can see growing a banana tree has attracted apes but they’re not much of a problem…yet.

Pot Stand

I followed those up with a couple of low pot stands. The second one I did (not pictured) I just used a single 1”x2” for the legs instead of doubling them up and they seem sturdy enough.

Potting Table

After years of making do with a board over the wheelbarrow for potting things up I made a work table at a comfortable height to stand next to the compost bins. The large pots and tubs fit under it. I need to get something under the legs so they don’t start rotting away.

Plant Cage Plant Cage 2

The last project I’ve made so far was the most complicated. Every year I fight a battle with the squirrels and chipmunks to keep them from digging up the pots of tubers and seeds I’m starting and from ripping out my vegetable plants when I bring them out for hardening off. I constructed a cage of the salvaged cedar and chicken wire to protect up to four flats of pots. The whole thing is two feet high and the door is held shut with hook-and-eye closures. I’ve placed it up on cinder blocks in the garden work area. I think I’ll get a couple more blocks so it’s higher.

There is still a decent amount of wood left. The only other project I’d like to attempt is a planter box with a very tall trellis. There is a large space  on the back of the house right where we have our deck chairs. I dream of get morning glory and moonflower vines growing there next year.

Have you ever built something new from old materials? I’d like to hear about your projects if you have. They may give me some ideas of what to do with the wood I have left!

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Make Your Own Plant Ties

I often laugh at the plant ties that are sold in gardening catalogs. Did you have any idea I was so cruel? Well, it’s true. I laugh because I make own and with just a little effort have more than enough to get me through a season. Since I prune and stake my tomatoes, I go through a lot of plant ties each year. Since I’m cheap, whenever I can make something myself or repurpose something I already have on hand. To make your own plant ties all you need  is a t-shirt that’s destined for the rag bin and a pair of scissors. (Edited to add:) I use 100% cotton shirts so I don’t have to worry about getting every piece during fall cleanup and the ones I miss can go right in the compost.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties

Start by laying the shirt flat and cutting through both layers straight across under the arms.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties 2

Fold one side of the resulting tube over to about an inch from the other side. The piece has been rotated in this view. See the hem on the right? Now cut 1” strips from the bottom edge up and just through the edge you’ve folded up but not all the way across. If your shirt is really thin you can cut the strips wider for stronger ties.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties 3

Here’s more of a close-up. Sorry it’s hard to see the edges with white on white.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties 4

Continue cutting the strips all the way down to the hem, which I leave on. Why work more than I have to?

Now comes the tricky clever part.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties 5

On the leftmost edge cut an angled cut through only one layer of cloth from the top of your first vertical cut out through the edge of the tube. Then cut through only one layer from the second vertical cut in front to the first cut in back. Repeat these cuts all along the rest of the vertical cuts. When you get to the end you’ll be cutting in from the outside edge of the hem to open the last loop.

Jan 2014 Shirt to Ties 6

Ta daaaaaah! You now have a continuous strip of material. Roll it into the ball and it’s ready to go to the garden.  There. Now you’ve got a little task you can do while you’re waiting for spring.

Since you’ve stuck with reading this all the way to the end, here’s a bonus tip: When I would tie up plants I used to cut off a length of the material first. Invariably it was either too long or too short. Now I keep the ball in a bag or bucket I take to wherever I’m tying up whatever. I just pull out the end of the strip, tie what I’m tying and then cut it.  I know. It’s not rocket science, but when I realized how much more efficient it was I was pretty proud of myself.

What common household items have you found uses for in your kitchen garden?