Made Art out of Trash

There’s no two ways about it, lumber is expensive. It doesn’t seem that much when you’re walking by it at Home Depot, but it really is. Strangely, people will finish a project and throw away their scraps. Or someone will demolish something and actually pay a landfill to dump exotic and hardwood cabinetry there. As if walnut and mahogany somehow loses its value and integrity by having hung on a wall for a while. As you drive around, if you see a house being remodeled or renovated, it’s highly likely that you will find very high quality materials that you can have for free. I know because I’ve gotten stuff this way.

Stacked on a neighbors front lawn.
The material that people throw away the most often is old fencing. The thing about fencing is that it’s almost always still good for something, even after it’s gray and weather-worn. It’s cedar and it doesn’t go away easily. In fact, most of the time someone could have avoided having to get a new fence if they would have simply taken a pressure washer to the planks. They almost always clean up very nicely. If not, you can always grab a plank or two to make bird houses, boxes, shelves, or other stuff rather than throwing it away. I used these scraps to make a sweet flag decoration for my yard.

There’s a cool bar we like to go that has a huge patio. It is filled with old vintage signage and folk art. One day Bride and I were there doing some day drinking and she pointed out a rustic old wooden flag. Now, she simply remarked that it was neat but I, of course, accepted the challenge.
I had a recently snatched pile of fence planks that needed a project.

Cleaning up
So when we got home, I grabbed a few boards and put them together, attaching them to two other planks in back. Then I cleaned them up and drew the Texas flag on them.

If you want to do this project, you will need a compass. I had to make a large one because apparently compass manufacturers couldn’t anticipate the need for a Texas-sized circle to be drawn on anything.

I had forgotten how hard it is to make a 5-pointed star correctly. Definitely the most difficult part of this project.

Almost there
Almost there…

It’s a 4’x6’ piece of folk art and it cost me nothing to make. I looked online later and saw things like this selling for a couple hundred dollars. I’ve also seen things like it for sale at a festival for a whole lot more. The best part is that it was very easy, lots of fun, and completely free.

When people come over for the first time they always ask where I got it, then give me all sorts of compliments for having made it. And it’s really nothing, just being aware of free materials and seeing something I wanted and figuring out how to turn one into the other.

What do you like to make? Tell us in the comments below.

Scarydad spends most of his time wishing he could be in his garage drinking beer and making things. The rest of the time he likes to hang out in his garage drinking beer and making things, then writing about it on his blog. Follow him on Twitter, Like him on Facebook, and send him emails at

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