Up-cycled Wood Branches Out

By Diane Small

Wood has been used for centuries to make not only houses, but their contents, too. But our love of this flexible, beautiful, easily workable material has also been its greatest downfall, and now some species of tree, such as Szaferi Birch or Root Spine Palm, are now extinct, and many others are endangered due to deforestation and disease.


Most developed countries have aimed to thicken their thinning woods with what they deem ‘sustainable forestry,’ but this doesn’t solve the issue of the reduction of biological diversity and the ecological imbalance caused by the destruction of the natural habitats of countless species that rely on forests for their homes. Nor does it solve the problem of increasing demand for natural resources, despite the reality of diminishing supply.


Despite this high demand, or perhaps because of it, there is much wasted lumber. In fact, according to  one American study,  over 50% of all landfill in the USA consists of wood or plant based materials.


Fortunately, many artisans are salvaging this ‘rubbish’ to create one-of-a-kind pieces of up-cycled wood furnishings, The resulting variety of home decor items is seemingly endless: rolling storage crates become tables, trolleys or shelves; unwanted pallets are transformed into tables; stumps become attractive stools and side tables, and scrap lumber is turned into myriad household products, from serving dishes and utensils to drawers and stairs.


Many of wood-repurposing craftsmen are independent artisans working from sites such as Etsy. Like mainstream carpenters, most sing the praises of wood as being a material that always provides the foundation for a completely unique item; the grain is slightly different in each piece, as is the contour, colour and texture to some extent.


This is even more the case with repurposed wood. As one re-purposed wood artisan put it: “every single item I make is unique, as not only does the wood itself contain aged features, but because it is up-cycled from a previous item of furniture, it is also carries the imperfections of its previous incarnation.”

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Diane Small

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