Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Free Wood, part 2, ugly furniture is MADE of wood

Yep, it is true! Even the ugliest piece of wooden furniture is still, well, wood. I can't believe how long it took me to figure that one out. Really, what triggered these entries on free wood (other than the acquired habits of a scrounger) is this article about recycling an ugly table into a padded bench. Yep, the table in the picture. ModHomeEcTeacher saw a padded bench, I see a bunch of lumber! If those legs are 2x2s (well, the shrunk down dimensional lumber version of a 2x2) than that bench is 4' long and just the planks on top are 8 inches wide, and nearly an inch thick. The side planks look to be 6 inches wide and nearly as long. I figure there is more than 8 board feet of usable wood in this table. She paid $13.99 for it at Goodwill - huge rookie mistake.
I would pay a maximum of... ...nothing. Yep, nada, zip, zilch, zero, nunca, niente. Oh, I would take it rather than reject it (for the price of a zero without a rim) as nice wide boards can be used for something, eventually. But the wood doesn't look to be anything too special. So where do I do my free & sometimes cheap furniture shopping?
The first two places are pretty competitive: the Craigslist.org free section & Freecycle.org. Lots of cheap people out there & being first is often the only criteria for scoring a deal. The Craigslist furniture and garage sale sections can also yield fruit. Oh, in the garage sale section look for estate sales that aren't being given by professionals. Best is when you turn up furniture that isn't currently in style, or is incomplete in some way. 1950's Early American roughcut thick Maple coffee tables, a solid wood footboard without matching headboard - that sort of thing. Sure, the Craigslist materials section is also great, but spotty - I did pay 50 cents a board ft for some roughsawn Walnut once though, so it is worth checking. To really mine online sources it is all about the keywords you use to search the ads. I like search keywords like: "wood", "broken", "table", "walnut", "oak", "maple", "hardwood" and so forth. Using online resources to pre-shop just makes sense. Look for local papers online too - often their classified sections are the same as the ones in the birdcage liner & searchable, too.
Goodwill or any of the other great service organizations that have storefronts can be possible sources, but you will pay more than you need to. The biggest problem you are going to have is when you get a piece of furniture that is too good to disassemble, and you end up repairing an antique. I hate it when that happens! (grin)


flipt studio said...

You are so right about finding wood for nothing. However, I wasn't shopping for wood at all. I just popped in to Goodwill to see what they had. So, for $13.99 I got the wood, about two hours or more worth of my time (which I would spend building a bench) the cost of the electricity to cut the lumbar and the gas to go pick up the free materials. Don't get me wrong, I like your frugality. I am very careful about how I spend my money. It's a huge time saver to have an assembled base to start with. Thanks for the analysis. Keep up the clever salvaging.

Quin said...

Thanks for the comment! Yeah, for me it was all about the picture of the table - it sure looked like someone went to a homecenter, bought 2 planks (an 8" wide and a 6" wide) and 1, 2x2 8' long stick & banged a table together pretty quickly...
...and that it would come apart back in to those components as quickly. (grin)
I like the way you repurposed, but as a woodworker, I just saw the parts. And even for $14 for the wood, you still got a great deal over the homecenter price for those boards & as you said, there is a cost for even free materials.