Each of the following projects can be carried out in your home or shed using minimal tools and even more minimal expertise! Remember, upcycling isn’t a science; it’s supposed to be a fun and interesting way of creating something unique while learning new skills and even making the odd mistake.
Pallet wood sign
This is a really simple and cheap introduction to the glorious world of upcycling. Online you can find loads of lovely quotes available to purchase and a lot of them are made to look old or distressed but are actually just printed onto cheap MDF. Why not follow these simple instructions and make your own truly unique sign out of old pallet wood? They’re a wonderful personal gift.
- Source an old pallet from your local industrial estate – most businesses get deliveries every day on pallets and don’t know what to do with them. If you ask nicely you will probably get a good quality pallet for free.
- Cut a section out of the pallet using a standard wood panel saw, these even have a square built into the handle for drawing a 90 degree angle to cut.
- Layout the words or quote you wish to write, I would likely pencil them on first to make sure it all fits nicely then either use a dremel or engraving machine if you’re feeling adventurous or simply use a permanent marker.
- Now give the sign a good coat of wax. You can use the more traditional colours or go for something more fun and colourful.
- Finally, go over the entire sign with some fine sandpaper – something like a 160 grit will finish it off nicely. Rather than sanding it all evenly, try and catch the edges and knots to leave a beautiful distressed look.
To hang the sign I like to use an old rustic off cut of string or you could even use an old shoe lace. Imagine how many of these you could make for truly personal Christmas or birthday presents?!
Another really simple thing to make is a door wedge – everyone has a door that gets propped open with an old bin! I’ve been making them this year in the shape of a moustache but you can choose any shape as long as its got a wedge at the end.
- Choose a decent reclaimed material – I love old scaffold boards as they have plenty of wear and tear, are easy to source and are pretty cheap!
- Design and mark out your shape. Think a little bit about keeping the grain running in the correct direction to maintain its strength.
- Using an electric jigsaw (if you have one) cut around the design. If you don’t have an electric jigsaw, cut by hand using a coping saw.
- Give it a good sand all over to remove sharp points and smooth the edges.
- If you have used a nice reclaimed piece of timber, try using a Danish or teak oil to nourish the wood and bring out the gorgeous colours and grain.
Quite often I find some really nice art prints at car boot sales or markets but they are just a cheap canvas mounted on a wooden frame. You can pick these prints up really cheap; here is an idea of how to give them much more of a ‘wow’ factor:
- Measure the width and height of your frame.
- Find an appropriate material to use – I find pallet wood is perfect as it’s lightweight, cheap and easy to work with.
- If you fancy pulling out your old school design & technology books and cutting a 45 degree mitre joint then go for it, but if not a simple butt joint will do.
- Once you have cut the 2 widths and 2 heights of pallet wood, give them a coat of paint, oil or wax according to your desired look.
- You can now screw the pallet frame through the canvas and into the wooden structure that holds the fabric.
I love this look as normally a wooden frame wood have the flat surface facing frontwards but i think its really nice to add the depth the the art and possibly even use it to store a few keep sakes?
This project is a little more advanced but it’s something you can make with the kids to really get their creative juices flowing and spend some quality time together without the i-gadget or x-station!
- Go to the garage and dust off the battered old skateboard.
- Remove all the wheels and trucks (the metal bits that hold the wheels) with a spanner and screwdriver.
- Measure the width of the skateboard and draw a line down the centre lengthways.
- Using a standard wood panel saw, cut it in half and sand the edge.
- Mount one of the trucks back in the centre of the board to act as the wall mount.
- Before you replace the wheels, attach a small metal bracket to each axle and then fit the wheels.
- Fix the shelf to the wall with appropriate fixings. Usually if it’s a brick wall, drill a 6mm hole and insert a red plastic plug to screw into.
Personalised dining chair
I’m not generally into shabby chic as there is a lot of bad painting excused using this phrase but it can be done beautifully. I always like to add real personality and emotion to a design so why not try this out:
- Source an old chair – it might be something that’s been kicking around the family for years or take a look on Gumtree perhaps?
- No need to sand it down if you use a furniture chalk paint from Autentico – you can apply it straight onto the varnished surface.
- Once painted, run over the entire chair with fine sandpaper (400 grit or similar), deliberately catching the edges and parts that would get natural wear and tear.
- Remove the seat fob. Usually on an old chair this can be done by simply turning some wooden pegs on the underside of the seat. If not, you may require a screwdriver.
- If the existing fabric is not too damaged, it’s a good idea to wrap our covering over it as it’s likely already fire resistant.
- Taking something sentimental like an old rugby shirt, pull the material over the top of the seat fob and staple it underneath, working firstly in the four corners, then the centres before working your way all the way round.
Hopefully you will try and dedicate even just a few minutes to try at least one of the guides. I cannot guarantee the results will be perfect first time but what I can guarantee is that you’ll have fun trying, likely drink lots of tea, spend time with loved ones and potentially turn something that was destined for the bin into a lovely thoughtful gift or item for your home.
Have you tried any upcycling projects at home? If so, let us know about them in the comments below.