Repurposing a Machinist’s Cabinet

Sometimes the easiest path to creative repurposing is to simply clean things up and use them. One day this machinist’s cabinet showed up at Second Use and I brought it home for a little TLC.

Green design,  Re-purposed,  Second Use,  Salvage,  Repurposed furniture,  Repurposed storage,

I don’t like matching furniture, what can I say? I also don’t like smelly furniture, which is what this was when we found it at Second Use and Mary Jean got so excited about it –

Green design,  Re-purposed,  Second Use,  Salvage,  Repurposed furniture,  Repurposed storage

Mary Jean, excited about stinky machinist cupboard.

But – there’s something about little drawers, little pulls and built in shelves that I do like. And square shapes plus imperfection. And I had a coupon. So, there you go – I bought it.

Green design,  Re-purposed,  Second Use,  Salvage,  Repurposed furniture,  Repurposed storage

I scrubbed for two days, but despite my best efforts I couldn’t remove all the previous owners labeling (you were thorough sir!) – so I left some – until the day when I don’t like them anymore and will probably have to sand them away, but for now let’s call them patina.

I removed the middle door so we could appreciate the shelves that don’t line up and the little drawers.

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And that was that! Added a few bright red accents (see Plumbop) and driftwood colored knobs – stuffed the hidden shelves and drawers and now I feel so organized :)

Green design,  Re-purposed,  Second Use,  Salvage,  Repurposed furniture,  Repurposed storage,

Green design,  Re-purposed,  Second Use,  Salvage,  Repurposed furniture,  Repurposed storage,

See? Clean, organized, and doesn’t match a thing!





Modernized Armoire


I have a cottage style home which means very little storage space. I purchased an armoire from a friend several years ago with the idea that one day I’d paint, stain, or at least change the door handles.

I wanted to modernize the whole room. It currently serves as a makeshift office, spare bedroom and a lazy catch-all storage space. The thought was to get rid of a lot of useless stuff and shift the room toward a contemporary office space that could quickly convert into a bedroom when guests arrive.

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Ribbon Art Holder

This idea is originally from my friend Tami. It is a simple and inexpensive way to display artwork, prints, photos, cards, or a myriad of other things you may have sitting around. The ribbons could be hung from a dowel – I used a branch because of the bird theme of the cards.

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

Funky Fix for Salvaged Bookcase

We got an old salvaged bookshelf from ReStore a couple years ago. It was missing (or never had) a finished end panel. Thinking that it would either a.) be a really long time before we would make a nice paneled trim piece for it, or b.) it didn’t deserve a nice paneled trim piece, I decided to clad it in an old sign (picked up for $1 at ReStore).

What we did:

I wanted to mock up the design so we measured the panel and made a cropping template with paper. Positioned the paper template on top of the sign to get an idea of best cropping.

Marked and cut the sign with a circular saw, with straight edge, clamped to a table. I don’t have a picture of this, but it is the same idea as what we did in a previous project.

Sanded the edges with fine sandpaper to finish off the edges.

Pre-drilled the nail holes in the plywood sign, because it was thin and we were nailing so close to the edge. Nailed it into place. Could have used screws, but liked the look of the nails better.

All done, good enough for now – maybe someday I’ll get around to putting something more refined on there, but then again, probably not!

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

Canvas Work Apron

For Christmas, my 13 year old daughter made me my very own Hammer Like a Girl work apron with our logo! It is great – made from really heavy canvas, includes pockets, a hammer loop, and most unique of all, a sewn-in magnet to hold random nails. Genius! We are thinking that we should make these and sell them through our blog (giving the creator a cut of the profits of course). What do you think – would you buy one?

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

Making your own hardware.

Bits and pieces of hardware gathered from salvage yards and hardware stores.

I couldn’t find a style of hardware for our bathroom that worked/fit. I wanted a simple/industrial look that would work with concrete, wood, and metal. I ended up making towel bars, sets of hooks and a toilet paper holder from a few different things that I found while scrounging around in my favorite salvage yards and hardware stores. A person would never be able to find these exact same parts again (even if a person wanted to), but this shows you how you can make something from not much.

The parts. I’m not even sure what these hooks were originally used for – does anyone know? I found them at Archie McPhee’s, our local funky specialty store that also carries yodeling pickles. I had two walls where I wanted repeating hooks so I got a bunch of them. They weren’t super cheap ($3.50 or so), but were very cool.
– Got little clamps (Stoneway Hardware) to secure them to a piece of douglas fir wood that matched the rest of the trim in the bathroom. We finished the wood by sanding (#150), then applying a coat of Benite (a wood conditioner), sanding with #220, and then applying 3 coats of satin Profin. These are great wood finishing products by Daly’s. After the final coat, we lightly wiped with 000 steel wool to knock the sheen off. We painted the shiny silver clamps with enamel paint, using a mix of black + “gold leaf” to give it an oil rubbed bronze look. To make sure the clamp was securely holding the hook, we cut a small piece of bicycle tubing and put it between the clamp and the hook.
– We measured and marked the placement on the wood pieces, pre-drilled the holes, and attached the hooks, painting the screws to match.
– With a stud finder, we found the studs on the wall, measured/marked with a level and attached the board to the wall using exposed screws/washers (also painted).
Towel Rack
The parts. The bar piece is an old rail from a sliding door (2nd Use Building Materials). The bracket/plates are huge steel washers (Stoneway Hardware) that just happen to fit – making the bar stand away from the wall so a towel fits and to make it look more finished.
– We cleaned up the rail with rubbing alcohol, cut it with a hack saw, located the stud in the wall, marked it. Then drilled, screwed in a galvanized lag bolt, and painted the bolt to match the steel.
Toilet Paper Holder
The parts. The piece that holds it on the wall is an old bracket from a towel bar (I think). The bar is an old piece of window hardware (2nd Use Building Materials). The bar was just the right length and fit in the bracket. We secured it using J-B 2 part cold weld epoxy. This is really good stuff if you need to attach things – it is really strong.
Ok, so with 11 hooks in the bathroom, there should never be towels on the floor again. Right?
See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

Do It Yourself Kitchen Island

Our kitchen is pretty small, lacking counter/storage space. I looked around for a portable “island” “peninsula” or even an “archipelago”, but couldn’t find one affordable/unique. So of course I went to Hardwick’s, our local funky hardware store swap shop. It is an amazing place, filled with anything you might need – old & new tools, hardware, kitchen ware, plumbing supplies and old furniture. You (I) could spend hours there. I found an old stand from a drill press. It was perfect – small footprint, storage (drawers and doors), and best of all, it was hand-made by some old guy once upon a time, complete with his measurement/pencil markings on the inside. It was mine mine mine for $20.

I took it home and everyone said, “what?”. I was a little discouraged. But I cleaned it up, and went searching for a more substantial top.  At my other favorite store, Second Use Building Materials, I found an amazing, thick limestone countertop remnant that just fit. Lucky lucky lucky. I think it was about $20 or so. It was very very heavy. I’ve never attached it to the base, but probably should with “Liquid Nails.”

I wanted casters on this thing, because if I could, I would put casters on everything I own.  I was looking for big chunky ones. It is hard to find a matching set of 4 at a salvage yard, so I got them at Home Depot. They were silver metal with rubber wheels, I painted them gray with metal paint. I installed the casters, painted the cabinet a dark charcoal grey and took some sandpaper to it (another thing I like to do to everything I own).

One thing I’ve always obsessed about is organized spice containers. The little drawers are a perfect size for little tins. I made some labels and stuck them on. Now I am very organized, or at least my spices are.

I am very happy with the additional counter space/storage my little island/peninsula provides (although “some people” in my family think it gets in the way, but I don’t listen to him).

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.