You have an interest in repurposing furniture. Maybe you already have an idea or you’re just exploring. I’d love to help you along the way. I’ve had a blast with the things I’ve created. I’m going to share some things I’ve learned so you can avoid my mistakes. And you can end up with things you’ll be proud to display in your home (or sell to make some dinero). So, let’s go.

Make a Plan

I like to write out and draw things in a notebook when I’m planning a piece. This saves me a lot of headaches and mistakes if I have things on paper before I start. I’m able to consider some of the obstacles I’ll face and also save myself time and money (plus trips to Home Depot to get materials). Once I’ve outlined what I want to do I like to wait a bit before starting on the project. This gives me time to think about ways I can improve the process. I call this ruminating – to chew on things for a while. I’ll also ask people I know what they think would be helpful in the process.

Practice Makes Perfect

You can experiment on the cheap stuff in order to hone your skills. I’ve found it helpful to test things out on scrap pieces of good wood or particleboard. You can perfect your skill so the final piece comes out well. This is also a good idea when trying out stains and finishes. We were working on a large table one time and we made test cuts with some scraps to make sure the angles were right. We got one side done correctly but had to stop for the day. That night owner tried cutting the wood for the other side and came up a couple of inches short. He had to go to the wood store the next day, wasting money on a new piece of wood and taking time out of the day.

Make it Sturdy

Let’s make sure you built something that stands up under use. Use pieces that are constructed well and you reinforce with glue, nails, and screws. One store was interested in buying a piano I had converted to a wine bar. When I brought it to the store the owner was concerned the front legs weren’t attached strongly enough to the rest of the piece and said he would buy it from me if I fixed the legs. So, I had to put it back in my truck and take it home to fix it. I eventually sold it to him, but it was a hassle to take it in and out of my pickup a couple of times. Make sure it’s sturdy the first time.

Exposure to Elements

Where will your piece live? If it’s outdoors, then you’ll want to use a good exterior polyurethane. I live in Colorado, so I don’t want to expose my piece to direct sunshine and snow/rain. It takes special wood and finishes to make sure it doesn’t start deteriorating because of the harshness. I’ve coated some of my wall hangings with exterior polyurethane but don’t expose it to direct sunlight.

Size of Piece

Consider the size of the piece in light of the size of your workspace and how it will be transported once you’ve completed the project. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
  • Do I have room to build it?
  • If I’m trying to sell the piece, can I easily it to ship it to outside my area?
  • Do I have someone who can help me move it if it’s large?

What finish to put on the piece

Paint  I’m in the process of painting an accent color on a current piece. I use a high-quality brush so I don’t have brush marks, plus I add Flood Floetrol® to the paint so the finish is smooth. And I sand between coats. This gives it a smooth final finish. Stain and finish I like using a good stain and then coat it with polyurethane. The sheen depends on what the client wants or how I like it. I recently created a built-in bathroom vanity so I used an oil-based exterior polyurethane because I knew it would get wet. I was playing around with some old wood I had and found out that it had some really beautiful wood under the surface. My client wants the piece to be rougher looking so I planed it to semi-smooth and then just coated it in polyurethane to bring out this beauty. I didn’t need to stain it. Epoxy I’ve used epoxy on several projects and it’s a cool way to add a smooth, durable surface to a project. For some end tables I created, I attached some maps to the top surface and then coated it in epoxy. That’s a good start to starting your own repurpose project. Let me know if you have any questions. I’m always up for helping others. To read more about our upcycled furniture, click here.