Take it from your Tool Kit - Upcycling Old Tools

Posted on April 11, 2017 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (1)

A while ago, I joined the Ottawa Tool Library where you can borrow a tool just like you would a book at a traditional library. If you’re in the need of a tool for, say, a DIY, gardening, cooking, or small repair project, instead of buying it and never using it again, you borrow it. So why buy, when you can borrow.

Tool libraries have become very popular and are located in quite a few cities including the one here in Ottawa, Toronto (Ontario), Edinburgh (Scotland), London (England). To find one in your area, check here

Which brings me to this post. I’ve always been interested in woodworking and gardening tools most of my life, especially, antique and vintage ones. One of my favourite tools is a 19th century wood plane that's somewhere in my storage unit; well, that and a 19th century oak sap bucket. I love the idea of owning something that has been used for generations and is still perfectly useful today. If you are a lover of old tools, chances are you may have or have come across a few that are no longer used but still worth keeping.

Here’s are a few ways to recycle/upcycle them and keep in circulation.

Found Art

I catagorize this as 'found art'. Floyd Elzinga transforms shovels into humongous tree cones (the above is a pinecone). He is a Canadian artist who currently lives next to his studio in Beamsville, Ontario nestled on the Niagara Escarpment. Makes me want to run out and find some old shovels to recycle.

View his other works here.

IPad Stand

You can purchase this interesting tablet holder here or why not build one yourself? All you need are a a couple of hammers, a screwdriver and a piece of wood dowel. 

Magnetic Notice Board

If you're attached to your old cutting saws but not using them, here's a nifty idea that's easy enough even for me! Transform your old saws into attractive magnetic notice boards. Nice for a workshop. Lots of saws and other tools available on Ebay.

Photo Display

A unique idea from Icon Design for an unused spackle knife used to display a vintage photograph. Or you can make it if you're lucky enough to have both or you could just buy it (if it's still available) here.

Picture Frame

Neat use for old wrenches (would make a great Dad's Day gift). You can get a similar one from Zulily. 

Coat Racks

I found a number of coat racks made from old tools, Below are two of my favourites:

Trowel Coat Rack

If these vintage trowel coat hangers are no longer available to buy at Sweet Daphne Design, you can make your own. You can still find the old trowels at flea markets, junk stores, or charity shops. Or use new ones like I did here:

I bought new ones that came with ready made holes and attached these to an old dance hall sign (given to me by a friend) for a garden/coat rack.

Screwdriver Coat Rack

There are very good instructions over at Homemade Modern to make this screwdrive coat rack so if you've a surfeit of old screwdrivers, this one is for you. Get the info here.


Add a bit of festivity to your workshop door with this grapevine wreath transformed with old tools tied on with binder's twine.I found it on Pinterest here

I've also upcycled a a couple of garden tools rescued from the trash here (as a flower display) and here (to hold my fishing poles, basket, and net). 



Ikea Idea - Wood Therapy

Posted on August 18, 2016 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

This morning I was able to enjoy my usual (but belated) cup of coffee on my balcony at my new table and also my view of 3 Victorian houses and the gorgeous trees (well over 100 years old) opposite my building. Yes, I admit to being a treehugger, literally. Must have been one in my previous life. Maybe they're kinfolk!

Anyway, the houses sit in the canyon of high rises where I live in downtown Ottawa. This morning, amids the morning cacaphony of delivery trucks, police car and fire engine sirens, and other noises that never cease, I worked out my plans for my first Halloween workshop.

After my coffee intake, I took a gander over to Ikea's Livet Hemma hoping to find an idea I could share and luckily there was one if you're in the need of a coffee table, which I am.


The whiz kids over at Ikea built a coffee table using their own Knagglig crates (approx. $15 CDN each) and one of their tabletops. I like this idea because the bottoms of the crates serve as storage. However, I don't know about your area, but vintage or vintage reproduced wooden crates are like gold here - costing a small fortune, so the Ikea ones are reasonable in comparison. Of course, you can always go looking for wood and build your own. 

Once you've found your wood, this guy over at Woodworking for Mere Mortals has a tutorial you can follow to make your own wooden crates. As for the top of your coffee table, an old door, sanded and stained, would complete the project.

For the tutorial, click here.

Next trash day I will be on the lookout for an old door and more wooden drawers. 

Street Finds - Wood for Cutting Boards

Posted on August 13, 2016 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you ever find that you think about something you need, then put it out of your mind to find it arrives at some unexpected moment? It happens to me a lot and again yesterday. 

It was garbage day and across street from my building I spotted a some interesting materials put out ready for the taking. So, of course, I dashed over to see what I could pick through and found an Ikea chest of drawers that had been taken apart and set out on the curb. 

What a surprise. I've been thinking about Christmas and what to give my friends who have EVERYTHING already. There was a post on Ikea's Livet Hemma site about dressing up cutting boards with leather. Of course, they were flogging their own cutting boards but I thought, AH HA, there's an idea. Why not gift my friends this year with custom made cutting boards? All I needed was some wood. 

Et voilà! I dashed across the street and found a motherlode of wood. I nabbed one of the drawers (heavier than I thought but heck, it was pure pine!). Once home, I took the drawer apart and found I had enough boards to make at least half a dozen cutting boards. Now I'm just am waiting for a friend to bring over some tools I can use. 

To top off my day, I found esy-to-follow DIY instructions for making your own cutting board over at A Beautiful Mess. Yay! For instructions, click here. 

I'll be showing off my own cutting boards soon. First, I have to find a saw!


Earth Day Project - Wood Recycling

Posted on April 19, 2016 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

I live in downtown Ottawa and it seems new building construction sites keep popping up here, there and everywhere. On my morning walks, I often find piles of leftover lumber left for rubbish at the curbside. Often the pieces are too big for me to take home (although I have upon occasion dragged a few home, much to the consternation of our building's concierge). It's a shame to throw wood into the landfill when there are so many other options. If you've just finished a remodeling or rebuilding job or just have a horde taking up space in the garage, rather than throwing out the wood, get creative and repurpose it instead.

Why not build a birdhouse, a picture frame, or make wooden toys for your kids?

If you're handy with a hammer and saw, build a bookshelf or clothes hanger.

Create a raised vegetable garden patch or put together a trellis for your garden. If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, you can use untreated wood for firewood.

If you’d rather get rid of it, donate your leftover lumber to Habitat for Humanity, a scrapyard, or a high-school woodworking shop; put it on Freecycle, Kijiji, or Gumtree.

You can also check with your city or your local recycling facility to see what any other options are available. Some facilities will put clean wood through a chipper and mix it with other materials to use as a soil enhancer.

These are only a few steps that can be taken to keep wood from piling up at landfills and save a few trees. There are tons of inventive and creative ideas all over the internet. Take the time to look and see what you can do with your piles (pun intended).