Our Class at Second Use Building Materials

We had our class a couple of weeks ago at Second Use Building Materials and it was so much fun to meet other people who are excited about using salvaged materials. There was a good turn-out and we only saw one person in the back row drifting off to sleep. So, we consider our first class a success.

At the end of the class, we had a little “participatory exercise” where we invited folks to go out into the store and pick out cool things that were priced under $30. The idea was that we would review, examine, and select one item that we’d take home and use for a salvaged project of some sort.

This is what people brought back:

We had to make a choice and pick ONE THING. What would you have chosen? We deliberated and debated – the blow torch was super cool, but we felt it was already art and tough to improve on. The light fixture was very affordable at $1.00, but the 1970’s vibe was a little challenging. The old drill was awesome, it sort of fell into the same category as the blow torch – don’t need to do much to it, it’s already cool. The porcelain knobs and the little lock plate were very nice, those were very strong contenders.

But in the end, we went for…

(wait for it)

…the big “e”.

So now our job is to use the “e” in some sort of project. Stay tuned and check back to see what we come up with. Hopefully it will be soon, although sometimes we have been known to mull over things for months. Hey, beauty and quality can take time! :)


Hammer Like A Girl Class at Second Use Building Materials

We are excited to announce we are giving a class about designing with salvaged materials at Second Use Building Material on Sunday, May 18th. See details below. We hope you can join us, it should be a fun time!


Sunday, May 18th | 11-12:30 | Presented by DIY Blog Hammer Like A Girl | FREE

Second Use Building Materials  3223 6th Ave. S.   Seattle, WA 98134   206-763-6929

Do you wander through Second Use wondering and wishing you could re-purpose some of the awesome stuff into your home or life, but end up leaving it all behind for another day – AGAIN?

Heidi, Monica and Mary Jean, will be at Second Use Building Materials to share some of their projects and tips to help you envision and then reshape salvaged materials into unique home improvements and functional art. Their projects range from transforming a discarded old car jack into a light fixture, to reusing multiple materials collected (sometimes stored for years) into a bathroom remodel.  Come join the fun and take away some inspiration!

RSVP to Mary Anne Carter

Email Mary Anne

This Plus That Equals: Industrial Coffee Table

We found these HUGE casters at Second Use (where else?) and immediately thought “coffee table”. (Actually what I immediately thought was that the husband would kill me if I brought home another big metal piece of randomness – like this and this and this.)


8″ diameter industrial casters.



Planks from RE-Store, planed.



Old Gas Can from Habitat for Humanity.


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

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Bathroom Design: Using Salvaged Materials


I bought this vintage utility sink years ago at Second Use Building Materials. We had been considering a second floor addition and weren’t 100% sure the remodel would actually happen. But then I fell in love with the sink and had to get it. So my argument for the remodel became “we have to do it, we already have the sink!”.

The addition eventually did happen and I finally got to use the sink.

The “before” picture:


Here are some pictures of the finished bathroom. Things to note:

  • Salvaged materials include: tile seconds from Second Use and Architerra NW, castors, sanded Fir flooring from our attic for shelving, planed and sanded/finished Fir from basement cladding for baseboard/door trim.
  • When we got the sink it came in an angle iron frame. It was rusty and a little thin, but the general design was cool. We modified it a bit, designed flanking cabinets to match, and had a local welder/artist build them.
  • The counter tops (and floors and shower walls) are d.i.y. Milestone, a decorative/pigmented hybridized cement. That was a wacky Hammer Like a Girl undertaking that we will never do on that scale again. Counter tops – completely do-able. Floors and shower walls – not so much. But we did it and I only cried once.
  • Speaking of crying, the day we set the tiles was 103°. (We reserved the wet saw and the husband took the day off work so we were determined to get it done.) Actually it was 103° outside and about 110° inside/upstairs. Sweaty.

If there is a moral of this story, I guess it would be: if you love something that is one-of-a-kind – even if you don’t quite know what to do with it – go ahead and buy it (if your significant-other will let you and you have room in your basement, that is.)

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

he Humble Brag Supporting Habitat for Humanity

Using Salvaged Doors in a Remodel: Part 1

One way to get immediate character in a house remodel is to use salvaged doors. Old doors can be beautiful, with great quality and craftsmanship. Depending on availability, it can also save you money. On the downside, using salvaged doors can take patience, planning, and elbow grease. Other downsides include the possibility of lead paint and dings/imperfections (although one girl’s dings/imperfections are another girl’s patina). Second Use Building Materials has great information on using salvaged doors on their do it yourself page on their website. Update! We love old doors so much that we’ve written yet another post here.

Where to Find Salvaged Doors:

We got all these doors from Second Use Building Materials in Seattle. We were able to find 15 matching 4 panel painted doors to use for all the room and closet doors. For the other larger/unusual openings we found some natural wood (cedar? fir?) doors that someone salvaged out of an old building. They had them stripped of paint and had them stored for use in a future home that was never built. Somehow they ended up at Second Use and we were ecstatic to find them there. I wish I could say we installed all these doors ourselves, but we hired a carpenter for this project. (That is probably why it got done.)

There are several ways to use salvaged doors in a house, whether it’s a remodel or new construction. Continue reading

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.