Upcycling: A Guide

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted many of us to take up a new hobby.

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We’ve variously headed out into the garden, tried our hands at interior decorating, and even attempted some basic carpentry. 

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If you’ve got a few tired old items of furniture lying around the home, then you might well indulge in a little bit of upcycling. Carpentry is something that you’ll want to get into gradually, as it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew. It’s for this reason that upcycling is so appealing: it’s a little more forgiving than making a new item from scratch.

Let’s take a look at what your process might look like during the early phases.

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Before you start doing anything physical, you’ll want to get some planning done. Consider the scope of your project, and what you’re going to need before you make the first cut. If you’re upcycling, then most of your planning is going to be shaped by the item that you’re working on – but don’t assume that everything is going to be straightforward. When you’re working with timber, you might find that mistakes are difficult to undo.

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When you’re determining what you’d like to achieve, you’ll need to also think about the tools you’ll need to get the job done. For most smaller carpentry products, these tools might be simple. A hand saw, some sandpaper, a hammer and some nails might be all you need to get started. As you get more advanced, you might look to electric, or pneumatic tools.

Inviting others to help

There are some projects that you might find it difficult to handle on your own, especially if you don’t have access to labour-saving devices like vices. The chief benefit of having a friend to hand is that, if you get into trouble, you’ll have someone to help you out. This applies especially if you’re using dangerous tools like nail guns and circular saws. On top of the other precautions you should be taking, it’ll keep you safe.

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Ideas for Projects

Your projects might be determined by the items that you have available. If you’re going to dispose of an old front door, for example, then you might find that the surface can just as easily be shaped into a coffee-table, or a set of wall-mounted shelves. Wooden pallets are similarly suited to conversion into shelving units – since the slots between the planks can be repurposed to hang items like wine glasses.

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You might bring together two different items to create something entirely new. Any small children in the house, for example, might appreciate a chalkboard table – especially if you can’t persuade them to stop drawing on tables and walls, anyway. Finally, an old cot might be repurposed into a seat, once your kids have gotten too big to sleep in them.

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