The following is written by Andrew of Andrew’s Reclaimed – Reclaimed Wood & Garden Accessories
I have always had a fascination with woodworking. One of our most ancient crafts, it is simply amazing to me how far it’s come.
Let me tell you how I started on this journey into woodworking, and how a little resourcefulness and a bit of luck has brought my eco-friendly craft into our gardens.
It started several years back, when I had dabbled a little in woodworking. A little framing here, a bit of decking and fencing there. One sunny weekend I was helping out a friend of mine. He had recently purchased his first home, and was remodeling it. Where to begin? Well, he had decided that the outside would be the best start. He had already dismantled the deck in the back of the house, and was building a new one. All of the new framing and much of the decking he had already purchased, so there we began. Come dusk, when we were close to the end, we realized that we were going to be short on supplies, as the height of the deck was tall enough that it required a railing and balusters.
It wouldn’t have been such a challenge, except the project was on a tight budget. What to do now? That night it came to me. Months ago, I had helped a neighbor friend of mine take down his old barn. The neighbor had not had any use for this decades-old mossy weathered wood, but frankly, I would have hated to see it taken to the landfill. I think even then, in the back of my mind, I knew I would bring this precious wood to good use. I had de-nailed it, and stored it for later use.
Could I re-mill this old gray heap into useful material?
The next morning I told my friend about my plans for this lumber pile. “Couldn’t hurt, Andy”. This is where discovery began. We went back to the house, collected the lumber, and off we went to the table saw. Hours of sawing led to the unveiling of the beauty and durability of this old gray stack of boards. It was beautiful old-growth western red cedar. It looked and smelled wonderful. With the railing parts ready to go, we completed his deck, and he was so happy with it. It was just lovely. A better quality wood by far. Stiffer, stronger, finer grain, and full of color, from cocoa brown to fiery reds and orange. It looked just lovely against his stone gray composite deck boards. It was so rewarding, as I knew this railing was built without having to fell a single tree.
Soon after that, I started my research into the usefulness of cedar. I had no idea that there were so many different species and grades. The year previous I had built my own deck of ironwood, and as beautiful and carefully crafted as it was, I imagined how it would have looked, had I used reclaimed cedar. If a deck could be built from reclaimed cedar, what other possibilities were there?
I had always loved the beauty and strength of an arbor, and decided to plan and build one from reclaimed cedar for next spring, for our own garden. I had always admired the craftsmanship of the European garden arbors and pergolas and their history. I began collecting reclaimed cedar wood beams and boards that autumn. From old decks and fences to large demolition projects, I collected, sorted, planed, and stacked. Every time I planed, I was never disappointed. The color and sweet aroma of this fine decades-old wood has never failed to amaze me, and I just knew that there was real potential for this reclaimed wood.
Once my first arbor was built, I had a drive. Over the winter, I continued learning, and after having built planter boxes, trellises, and other items from the same gorgeous material, I wanted other people to see the beauty of this reclaimed wood, and how useful it could be. I wanted people to see that there are many ways to use reclaimed lumber, and that there was no need to throw it away or burn it. And that there’s another way to minimize our effect on our natural resources.
I remember the conversation my wife, Melissa and I had one day about how we could show people the beauty of this recycled material and how it can be “born again” into our gardens. Where could we possibly start? “How about a farmers market?!” By this time, I had completed several breathtaking garden arbors for neighbors, and I had also started dabbling in different designs, and had completed several custom orders. We applied for the local farmers market, and were accepted. As luck would have it, our first farmers market was a hit. It was so rewarding, the number of people who were fascinated with the beauty and eco-friendliness of reclaimed cedar.
During that spring and summer, between market days, I researched and designed, and began building a variety of useful items, such as the bat houses, Flutterbye Houses, and the A.R. Bee Keep. My goal was not just to build quality into eco-friendly garden structures, but to help others with their desire to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. One of my most important goals, one that I always strive for, is to always provide my customers with a high quality eco-friendly product.
Since my spring and summer of crafting for the farmer’s markets, I have had the pleasure of being a part of Etsy.com, arguably the very best hand-crafted venue. I will tell you, the very fact that I have been part of the eco-friendly crafts movement has been such a pleasure. Having satisfied customers is for certain one of the most important things to me in my craft, but more than that, bringing more knowledge of eco-friendly material, and eco-friendly ways of being, is rewarding beyond what I can put into words.
I am really excited to see where the new year will take my craft, and look forward to bringing new styles out of the old barn beams and into our little corner of the world, and becoming a greater part of the solution for our increasingly eco-friendly lives.
Visit Andrew’s Reclaimed at http://andrewsreclaimed.1000markets.com