Try a New DIY: Tips for Sourcing & Using Reclaimed Wood

published May 11, 2017
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(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

If you admire the rustic and warm look and feel of reclaimed wood, but have never attempted a DIY project using it, let Kelly and Tim Fischer’s Portland home be an inspiration to you. Kelly and her mother used reclaimed wood in many projects throughout Kelly’s home. Let’s take a look at some of their projects and hear Kelly’s Five Commandments of Sourcing and Building with Reclaimed Wood.

(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

Kelly lucked out when it came to sourcing reclaimed wood to use for her DIY projects: all the cedar came from Kelly’s parents’ property. She writes: “The property in St. Helens, Oregon was owned by my step-dad’s father. He milled the cedar plus used it on his home he built. When he passed, my parents built an addition on the home and used the reclaimed cedar siding as a feature wall, to wrap beams and on various projects. As well as letting me have some for my own projects! We mostly used the old home’s siding. As long as it was in fine condition, not rotted through, it was a contender.”

(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

The Five Commandments of Sourcing * Building with Reclaimed Wood

  1. Find reclaimed wood from family members with gorgeous wooded property, the Craigslist free section, neighbors, your own renovation or really anywhere that reclaimed wood can safely and legally be removed.
  2. If it ain’t rotted through or infested with bugs, use.
  3. Reclaimed wood is best for cosmetics, not structural support. Building an entire piece of furniture, for example, from reclaimed wood is not advised.
  4. Sand any rough edges that might come in contact with skin (no one likes splinters).
  5. Seal reclaimed wood with a clear coat to protect it. (Kelly uses Briwax.)

Below, Kelly shares some instructions on how three of the home’s most lovely reclaimed wood pieces were made:

(Image credit: Heather Keeling)


As Kelly explains: “We wanted a king-sized bed, and as my parents had already made one for themselves…we had their measurements already.”

For the headboard, the couple wanted a tall one and so they headed to Pinterest and Ariele Alasko’s Instagram for inspiration. They took cedar wood cut into strips and sanded them, then laid them out to visualize how the pattern might look. “We took a couple boards of plywood, used a nail gun to attach the strips of cedar that we had cut, and cut the excess off the sides. Plus we attached a border around the edge for a finished look.”

(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

Coffee Table:

The sleek, thin-profiled coffee table in the couple’s sitting room looks like a pricey mid-century inspired piece purchased at a store. But it’s an incredibly simple DIY:

“We attached three cedar pieces together using wood glue plus a joint to get the larger [top] size,” writes Kelly. After sanding the new solid cedar top, they left the wood in its natural stain-free state. Then, “we attached hairpin legs from Etsy shop Modern Legs.”

(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

Stereo Cabinet:

A turntable and some of the couple’s vinyl collection were given to Kelly by her grandfather when she was a teenager, so it was important that there be a furniture piece that could fit these items.

“I built this myself using a table saw, miter saw, a hammer and nails. I had drawn an outline of measurements to make sure the inside would fit our small vinyl collection, CD player, vintage receiver and turntable on top.

I have to admit, the stereo cabinet is not the peak of craftsmanship, and likely wouldn’t survive a move, but it fits the space and our needs perfectly. I used the same reclaimed cedar, cut strips on my table saw, sanded them and created a door using hinges from the hardware store to hide our collection.”

Thanks Kelly, Kelly’s mom and Tim! See all of this beautiful home → Fearless DIYers in a “Flipped” Portland House