Free Wood #1: Dressers

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Blog entry by Dave Rutan posted 10-18-2014 01:49 AM 2485 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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[Legebla ankaĆ­ en Esperanto]

Where do you find wood that isn’t plain pine boards and studs from the local lumberyard? If you don’t live near a furniture supply house or don’t want to pay for wood for small projects, do like I do. I live in a mid-sized town in the rural corner of New Jersey. When I’m out driving here and there I keep an eye out along the streets, mainly in my own town, for broken furniture. A lot of folks throw out broken chairs, but I don’t have much use for them. The best thing is if someone puts out an old dresser. The picture above shows a typical treasure.

A lot of times, in old furniture that papery wood isn’t used. The drawer sides are usually 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch wood, sometimes not pine. The drawer fronts and carcass tops are very often solid wood, unless they’re veneer. The drawer bottoms and other parts of the carcass are often made of thin plywood sheet.

This is not to mention possible trinkets such as knobs, hinges (on cabinets) and maybe drawer slides. Don’t let the good wood go to waste. Grab it and recycle it!

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

9 comments so far

View larryw's profile


335 posts in 4003 days

#1 posted 10-18-2014 02:33 AM

Dave, I think that’s a great idea. I once read an article in one of my wood working magazines about a guy taking broken old wood desks and other office furniture made in the thirties and forties, and refurbishing them or repurposing the wood. A lot of these were made from solid mahogany! . I agree , don’t throw out good wood, make something beautiful.

-- "everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees it" ~confucius-551-449 b.c.~

View CFrye's profile


11410 posts in 3181 days

#2 posted 10-18-2014 07:36 AM

Dave, don’t eschew the chairs! You can find some beautiful grain under the finish on chair seats.

-- God bless, Candy

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2022 posts in 3530 days

#3 posted 10-18-2014 10:30 AM

larryw, repairing and refinishing trash furniture is another way to go if that piece is what you need/want. I suppose you could sell it as well. Upcycling is also a worthy endeavor. I’ve seen pictures of coffee tables being turned into benches, large dressers too, an upright piano into a china cabinet.

CFrye, So noted, but the chairs I mean are usually so curvy that there’s no straight pieces to use. I’m not sure what that style is called.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Sylvain's profile


1519 posts in 3841 days

#4 posted 10-18-2014 03:45 PM

Paul Sellers also uses old furniture
to reuse the wood.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn (and that is nice)

View Grumpymike's profile


2500 posts in 3657 days

#5 posted 10-18-2014 06:57 PM

+1 CFrye … I have found some nice 6/4 Maple chair seats along the curb. (Painted a bilious blue)

Another wood scrounging spot is the local tree service folks; I get a lot of Mesquite and Ironwood in 18 to 30 inch lengths, re-saw them into little boards and soon they will boxes and such.
My latest find is a couple 24” pieces of Silver Dollar Eucalyptus … As soon as it dries, the previous tree owner will be the first recipient of a keepsake box. (her tree will live on forever)

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 3367 days

#6 posted 10-18-2014 09:45 PM

reuse anything I can find, old furniture, lumber tossed away at construction sites, many many pallets. There is good wood laying around all over the place and much of it is free for the asking. The manager of a local supermarket says I can have anything that hits the pile.

-- atta boy Clarence!

View robscastle's profile


8358 posts in 3545 days

#7 posted 10-19-2014 03:42 AM

Hey Dave !!

I saw a blue set of drawers sitting on a vacant lot Apr 2012 I didnt take too much notice of it thinking it was possibly just made from particle board or similar.

On the weekend it was still there so I walked over to take a look.

It was some sort of a horrible blue all over.
However when I pulled a drawer out I saw solid wood and the drawer had half blind dovetails, so I brought it home.

I sanded a drawer and saw such a fine result I then spent about two hours sanding the rest of it and ended with this.

It has a few handles missing and I have never been able to identify the wood.

I left the back original, and this is what it originally looked like all over

-- Regards Rob

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2022 posts in 3530 days

#8 posted 10-19-2014 10:38 AM

robscastle, Nice snag! It reminds me of the drawer front that I thought were just stained. When I cleaned them up I discovered they were walnut!

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2022 posts in 3530 days

#9 posted 10-19-2014 10:41 AM

hoosier0311, If I had room for storage, I could get lots of pallet wood around here, nice new pallets…
The main reason I started scavenging drawers was lack of money and the need for wood thinner than 3/4 in. I didn’t own a planer at the time.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

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