13 Projects You Can Make from Reclaimed Wood
It lends a warmth to any room, as well as a sense of history and charm that new materials lack. Here's how to upcycle it into furniture like tables, frames, trays, and shelving—all to bring rustic charm to your home.
One of the things that we strive to do as crafters is appreciate the natural world. It is important to do what we can to care for our planet, and using recycled materials in our projects is a simple and practical way to do just that. Repurposed wood, which is also referred to as reclaimed lumber, can be found in lumber yards and hardware stores. It tends to be wood that was salvaged from other projects and homes and therefore lends a certain charm and history to a project whenever you use it.
When looking for this popular kind of wood, don't shy away from asking about a piece's true origins. Wood described as "reclaimed" may not come straight from one barn, bowling alley, or farmhouse. Rustic-looking furniture can also be assembled with upcycled wood from disparate sources, or simply finished to achieve the salvaged patina that is so popular these days, says Seamus Fairtlough, owner of Fairtlough Restoration in New York City.
When you shop for reclaimed lumber, you want to closely inspect it to make sure that it is durable enough for your project and that its imperfections would not harm the structural integrity of your resulting piece. Pictured here, for example, is our pegboard project, which is strong enough to be drilled into a grid for holding all of your kitchenware. You should also consider how the wood and its appearance could add the type of color and character that you want in its final look. Repurposed wood is a wonderful material for all kinds of projects, and we have compiled a list of our favorites to inspire you.
Reclaimed wood can be used to mount custom shelving in your living room or study. The rustic appearance of the wood is perfect for a room with old-fashioned décor or a nautical theme. Use pipes to mount the slabs of wood on the wall for an easy project that adds an industrial touch to any space.
A plank of beautifully knotted Douglas fir creates a naturally elegant tub tray. Cut a board—either reclaimed or store bought—so that it's a few inches wider than your tub. Sand the wood and seal it with a watertight finish. If you're worried about the board sliding sideways, screw a scrap of wood to the underside at each end, just outside the tub's rim.
For your travels abroad, curate all of your knick-knacks and mementos into a box labeled by location. Once you have constructed a small wood-paneled box from the reclaimed wood, you can paint it using chalkboard paint and give it a distressed look.
Using reclaimed wood to make these accessory frames gives your artwork a refined rustic look. Use burnished metal for the hooks to complete the look. You can also glue on dried flowers to preserve the natural appearance of the wood and pay homage to the beauty and magic of woodlands.
Of all the family get-togethers in a year, a dinner party is often the main event, when every age group joins the feast. Look to earthy, natural, and plant-based elements: Sculptural twigs and branches provide a surprising alternative to flowers and convey a natural beauty that's in keeping with the season.
For serving everything from appetizers to apéritifs, why not pull out a tray of repurposed wood? It will give it a historical aesthetic that would be perfect for a Gilded Age themed room or dinner party.
If you have a surplus of reclaimed wood, turn the bundle into a statement wall for your home. Pictured here, birch poles sliced into disks and glued to plywood panels create a graphic wall mosaic. Strategically placed longer pieces are used as hooks for bags and artwork.
To save floor space and create a sense of airiness in a bedroom, use a bracketed shelf instead of a nightstand. We love the look of this reclaimed-wood plank supported by sturdy cast-metal brackets, but you can use any type of wood as long as it fits the dimensions of your brackets. When hanging the brackets, make sure you use the proper anchor for your wall type. (If you're not sure, ask at a hardware store.)
Our feline friends love a good perch—even better, one that's made just for her. This scratching post was made from a fallen tree on Martha's Bedford property, stabilized by cutting the trunk of a sturdy piece of branched wood so that it forms a flat surface.
Don't have the space that a walk-in closet demands? Try building a walk-by with two pieces of 2-by-4-inch wood. An old ladder bridges the gap between two basic shelving units and creates a homey space to hang clothes-a far cry from the typical sterile, stainless steel rod.
Invite all of the birds to your yard with a birdhouse constructed from the reclaimed wood of local trees. It will be a way to give back to the Earth and provide homes for the local wildlife.
Games and Toys
This project is fun for the whole family. Cut reclaimed wood down into blocks of equal size, then enlist the kids' help to paint the outer edges; when stacked, they form a rainbow of hues—ours has an ombré effect.