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salt and wood

Re use it or lose it

Tag Archives: timber restoration

 

I wrestled these two hardwood beams from a skip bin not too far from my house and carted them home on the roof of the trusty Subaru. A note here that if you ever decide to dabble in the high art of scavenging recyclable materials, I highly recommend acquiring a clapped out Subaru wagon with Rhino roof racks. There is not much I have not been able to easily shift around with this.

 

These beams were deceptively and enormously heavy and old by Aussi building standards. Coming from a renno of a big old Newtown terrace. I could guess that this is Eucalyptus that was hundreds of years old when it was cut and that was probably around 140 years ago. So lets say the tree this timber is from was a germinating seed around 300 years ago!!!!

 

Once home I determined the choice cuts to chop the beams down to more manageable size. The scraps made exceptional firewood for the BBQ. Then there was all the knocking off of trimming timber, sanding, de-nailing and so on just to get down to the great colour and character of this timber. The legs were cut out of the beam and the rest of the process of becoming a bench is apparent in the pictures. Basically I embarked on a bit of rebating and used a found broom handle to do the doweling to pin all the bits together. Another broom handle forms the red bracing detail under the seat. And a scrap bit of timber was used to fill a rebate on the surface where it is stamped.

 

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An old IKEA stool found in the street, the seat top was rotten and thus discarded and the legs delaminated in spots with surface wear. I simply removed the legs and screws and sanded them all back, re glued and clamped the ply lamination and then varnished and spray painted the legs as seen here. The new top was crafted from a section of hardwood plank found on the streets of Newtown.

 

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I found this discarded unit not far from my house. Judging by the style and crafting my guess is that some time in the 1960s some geezer picked up a couple of Maple planks and set out to grace the entertainment corner with a cheeky budget cocktail shelf! Remember this was a time before IKEA and the concept of DIY because… well… unless you were ‘well to do’ pretty much everything was DIY!

 It was looking past the point of salvage but it is amazing what turning something upside down can do to hide 50 years of drink stains! The maple proved to have plenty of life left in it revealing a charismatic colour and grain when sanded and varnished. The remnant white paint and black oxidized nail holes all added more character and interest. The holes and some removed rot where filled with orange wax and or wood putty. Legs were restored and added from another discarded table. And the locking lip of a piano lid was restored, cut and fitted as a rear barrier detail to the top edge. You can see the brass lock plate still in place. A two-part backing was cobbled together from scrap with the top inside edge painted orange to carry the wax detailing.

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This little stick of timber held so much character between its surprising density to its rich colour to the black divot and shiny polished off steel nail remnant that it became its own object. Simply sanded and varnished with a slot cut along its length it becomes a means to compile all the odd bits of notes. Pictured, cards, reminders etc that sit around your side bench.

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A section of eucalyptus flooring became the mid shelf with various bits of a discarded wardrobe utilized to make a hidden base drawer. And angled legs cut from a little plank recovered at the beach. Probably the most interesting feature is the pattern created by some type of wood worm on the inside face. I spray painted this blue then sanded it back to highlight this alien language. Another original feature was the use of Perspex as a backing panel. Cut from a broken sheet I found on my street it introduces a fantastic light quality to the unit. In addition to this light play is the mid shelf being deliberately off set from the rear of the unit to allow light to be evenly spread over the inner rear face. Note also the integration of the restored old school wooden ruler as the back edge to the mid shelf. And the restored/ reshaped corner of the old drawer face. Some old boy had resin bogged a rough corner on years ago and I was able to sand and polish this resin to reform a perfect little corner with all the detail of the resin and previous paint.

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This was probably a medicine cabinet complete with spilled iodine stains. Guessing from the craftsman’s stamp found under the paint it was put together in either May 1911 or September 1905? By DB? The other mysterious stamp is the ‘HO EC’ on the left side.

I found this in a back lane in Petersham Covered in layers of old paint and full of a colony of insects including Redback Spiders. After some meticulous stick flicking the cabinet was declared non-deadly and mounted on the back of my motorbike with a couple of ocky straps.

Just to be clear this was a rescue mission rather than a sculptural re purposing of accumulated components, as would generally be the intent of the item projects. And thus the character of the piece is more akin to its original intent and crafting some 100+ years ago!

Basically I was able to knock many of the joints apart and give it all a sanding. It still had what are probably the original hinges and screws though the door handle and latch were long gone with the housing rebate the only clue. The inside face of the side walls have multiple shelf slots but only two shelves leading me to guess this is a mass produced component to suit different uses.

The back panel was badly cracked and thus replaced. Where the wood was badly stained for various reasons I spray painted white and set up a contrast with the natural timber grain components. The whole unit seems to be a combination of pine and some sort of White Cedar? I put together an additional component that was fitted into the top rear to stabilize the whole structure and provide a secure mounting area to wall hang the unit. A little extra half shelf was incorporated into this. The white knob was some random street find.

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