Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & ReCLAIM – Emma Foster, Fo’sheimer and Filles Fabrications

Welcome, Project Ventura newbies and oldies alike! Our third milestone, the building of this airstream/teacher lounge is well underway and the class is making significant progress. We’ve started painting the interiors of the airstream fancy moroccan colors (as several of my classmates have posted about), as well as fixed up some old wood that was donated by a teacher to make panelling on the furniture.

This isn’t just any ol’ wood. This is beautiful, reclaimed cedar, tongue and groove panels. Since both cedar and reclaimed wood can be quite expensive, Ms. Jo jumped on the chance to use these panels at no cost. We did have to clean and sand it ourselves, though. Look how amazing the panels look on the counter so far!

Reclaimed cedar panels make our counter even MORE beautiful!

Reclaimed cedar panels make our counter even MORE beautiful!

When Ms. Jo presented us with the idea of reclaimed wood, I was fascinated. It never occurred to me that one can use wood that has already been used to make a construction more eco-friendly. When I looked into it more, I found quite a few more fascinating things about using wood that’s been salvaged from previous constructions, or reclaimed.

What makes reclaimed wood environmentally friendly is that it is from a tree that wasn’t grown on a farm or supportive in an ecosystem, it’s basically a tree that has been cut down for a specific purpose but it’s getting another life. For example, wood from a barn may have been freshly cut, but once that barn becomes decrepit you can use that wood to make a bed frame or a porch from your house without killing any more trees. Reclaimed lumber is also, by default, stable and durable because it’s already stood the test of time.

Wood scraps from an Indonesian fishing boat made into pretty stools (source:!8)

Wood scraps from an Indonesian fishing boat made into pretty stools (source:!8)

Did I mention how pretty this stuff is? Aging really brings out the color in wood, revealing a character that just can’t be mimicked. It’s also just cool to have furniture with a story. So, if someone mentions how beautiful your cabinet is, you could say “Wow, thanks! It’s made of lumber from an old barn in Albany,” or “Why, thank you, I made it out of wood from my great-great-grandmother’s wine barrel collection,” or something along those lines. Think about how impressed your house guests will be!

However, be wary of obtaining this kind of lumber when you’re raiding the shipyards for some reclaimed teak or thinking about buying some from a national seller. A lot of people will sell old wood without properly treating or cleaning it just to make a quick buck. Make sure your dealer has scrubbed the wood clean and taken it across a metal detector for any hidden nails. If they haven’t, then you might be in for a nasty surprise. If you happen upon some old wood that you want to use for another project like we have, make sure to clean it, sand it, and search for old rusty nails before you work on that fancy cabinet.

Some nice, naturally aged, reclaimed hardwoods that one might consider building with include heart pines, douglas firs, cypresses, and black cherry trees. Antique softwoods harden with age, giving them more strength, grain character, and size, with a rich color that can’t be matched by contemporary grown, strained, or distressed woods today.

Recycled wood can be made  into shower wall tiles that add character to the bathroom (source:!6)

Recycled wood can be made into shower wall tiles that add character to the bathroom (source:!6)

Helping out the earth a bit is even more fun when there’s an aesthetic plus, too. I hope you consider working with reclaimed wood!


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