Salvaging junked furniture

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Forum topic by DouginVa posted 02-01-2013 12:35 PM 1373 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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490 posts in 2299 days

02-01-2013 12:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: resource refurbishing

I was watching an episode of Rehab Addict on HGTV or DIY Network the other night and the girl went to a guy’s shop that saves pieces of furniture that are thrown to the curb by their owners. Most of the stuff, he says, are very old pieces that for what ever reason are thrown to the curb.

The guy takes the pieces back to his shop where he strips them of all the fabric, padding, springs, etc. down to the bare bones. He then re-upholsters them in to the most beautiful pieces you’ve seen. If you saw his stuff in some of those high end furniture stores you’d expect to pay thousands of $$ for them.

He makes a very good point that people don’t realize just how solidly built that old pieces are and they have many years of life ahead of them that he just prolonged.

Makes me want to learn a new skill of furniture upholstery.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

11 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15369 posts in 2644 days

#1 posted 02-01-2013 12:54 PM

That line of work is almost like architectural salvage. I love that people do it, but I have to think they’ve got tons of pieces that sit around in storage or limbo for every one that finds a home. It’s a true commitment, and very cool. I’ve done it to a very, very small scale by saving pieces here and there and disassembling for other projects or for rehab. The materials are top notch, typically.

Good post!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View JoeinGa's profile


7736 posts in 2032 days

#2 posted 02-01-2013 01:00 PM

I saw that show too. Very interesting. I’ve also seen where someone here on LJs has taken to stripping old discarded furniture (and box springs from beds) and is reclaiming the wood for other things, like cutting boards and small tables.

Where we live now they have attandants at the dump and dont let you take stuff from the dumping areas, but where we will be moving to has centralized dumpsters scattered around the counties and folks just dump anything near the dumpsters. In years past I always saw furniture dumped at these sites. When we get moved, I’ll be watching for some of the furniture items so I can start “reclaiimiing” all that free wood :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View DouginVa's profile


490 posts in 2299 days

#3 posted 02-01-2013 01:09 PM


I’m seriously thinking about experimenting on a very small project. Like a chair or something. Good way to learn a new skill (upholstering). And if it doesn’t turn out all that good, then I only have a minimal amount of time and money invested in to it so no big loss. I could provide more furnishings for my daughter’s apt with the stuff.


I’ve watched his vids too. His username on LJ is “JSB”. He breaks the stuff down for the hardwood on the inside. If it’s anything like breaking down pallets and removing nails, etc., that’s a lot of work for a relatively small yield in hardwood. But it is going green and re-purposing some very good wood.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View MrRon's profile


4795 posts in 3269 days

#4 posted 02-01-2013 08:04 PM

I like to visit thrift shops and garage sales for good used furniture to restore. I refurbished some old furniture that had been damaged by Katrina.

View Domer's profile


252 posts in 3392 days

#5 posted 02-01-2013 08:13 PM

I think that is a great idea. The two drawbacks I see are

1) It takes a lot of labor and time to do.

2) If you are doing it for yourself, how often do you come up with a piece of furniture that fits what your wife wants in your home.

That being said, we have a dining room table that belonged to my parents from probably the late 1930’s that had been through a number of members of my family and to say the least had not had a lot of TLC. I debated whether to throw it away or reclaim it. I reclaimed it and now it is one of my favorite pieces in our home.


View DouginVa's profile


490 posts in 2299 days

#6 posted 02-01-2013 08:38 PM

What I had in mind won’t involve the purchase of anything but fabric, padding, etc. for the re-upholstering. The actual piece of furniture would be free. It kinda defeats the purpose and saving of money over the alternative of buying a piece to re-upholster…..unless of course the thrift shop piece costs next to nothing.

The time and labor part of it would still pay for itself compared to the cost of a brand new piece of furniture. If you saw the pieces the guy on Rehad Addict had in his shop you’d be amazed. Who cares what my wife wants (dont’ tell her I said that…..I’ll tell her myself). You are at the mercy of what you can find. But every time I drive by a pile of stuff at the curb and there’s furniture there, I stop and take a look. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Re-finishing is good also, but that’s a skill I already know. I’m looking to venture out and learn new skills… upholstery.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2513 days

#7 posted 02-01-2013 08:59 PM

Years ago I lived in Fargo, ND. they held “Spring Cleanup” every year.
You were allowed to put anything out at the curb…. I mean ANYTHING and the city would come by and pick it up free.

It was the usual pastime during this week long festival to drive all over town looking at other peoples junk, picking out pieces that you wanted.

The rule was that you had to leave the area as neat as when you got there….. The cops would patrol and make sure you did.

I found a complete drive train for my 75 Ford F250, including the transfer case, a console color TV in a real cherry console that only needed the tuner cleaned and a beautiful antique oak pedestal dining table with 2 leafs.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3611 days

#8 posted 02-01-2013 09:39 PM

Properly made furniture should last for hundreds of years, and if looked after well possibly thousands. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View DouginVa's profile


490 posts in 2299 days

#9 posted 02-01-2013 10:11 PM

And don’t forget Craigslist “Free” section. There’s a ton of furniture on that page.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15369 posts in 2644 days

#10 posted 02-02-2013 01:44 AM

I bought a solid walnut table for $1 at auction that became the tool cabinet under my workbench. And bought another, larger one this fall (also walnut) for $10. Tables were beyond use (not viable or even particularly desirable) as tables, but have given up plenty of processes raw material for new projects.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View 9FINGERTIM's profile


54 posts in 1966 days

#11 posted 02-07-2013 09:11 PM

speaking of recycling dont you hate the other handyman shows on tv where they are remodelingig older homes, you see them takiing sledgehammers to old oak or walnut sollid veneer cabinets or room dividers,etc so they can replace them with particle board crap. not to mention nice old sinks and plumbing fixtures ,its noharder to take things out more intact ,dont they have restore stores or other paces that would love to recycle those things i have been to several garage sales where people were selling their old cabinet doors after replacing them.ipicked up al the cabinet grade 3/4 in doors i could carry for peanuts not to mention door butts and mulittudes of locksetsi I cant help but notice that what they took out of their home was much better quality then what they put in!


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