Something From Nothing
Sarah Rae Smith
Oct 22, 2008

So far this week we've looked at revamping speaker boxes, oil drums, retail shelving and old tires. Today's ideas tackle a work bench on it's last legs and some terra cotta tubes both found in Craigslist's Free Section. Click through the jump to see our thoughts on transforming these objects into something usable in your home!

We found these items in two different Midwest cities (Minneapolis and Cincinnati). One work bench that has seen better days but still has some use left in it and some terra cotta tubes that we are sure are supposed to serve some landscaping function (but we're not 100% on that). See how we take them from trash to treasure below!

Making Terra Cotta Tubes Into Vases

  • 1 - To begin work on the tubes, first find a rock. any rock will do, although concrete, terra cotta or lava rock will work the best. Rocks act as their own sandpaper for the most part and should be able to "sand" off any burs or sharp pokey bits on the cylinder.
  • 1.5 - Take this time to decide if you would like to keep the original terra cotta color or if some paint would better suit your fancy. A good quality spray paint might be all you need, although terra cotta is quite absorbant so if you have any primer laying around it wouldn't hurt to bust it out for this project. You can also use shoe polish to buff onto the surface for a faded yet rustic look (and if you hate it, you can always paint over it!).
  • 2 - Using a saw and some scrap wood, cut yourself a circle that will fit into the bottom of the cylinder. Find the bottle of Gorilla Glue you have lying around and glue that bad boy into place.
  • 3 - Another option would be to use florist foam and to cut a circle from the block that will fit snugly into the bottom. Make sure to run some glue around the sides so it doesn't pop out.

    Your vase is now ready to hold sticks (forget the craft store, just go for a walk around the block!), rocks, love notes or umbrellas.

    Workshop Table to Kitchen Island

  • 1 - We would first want to remove the single drawer on the left hand side. It's a bit deep and we think we can live without it. It can be turned into a wall shelf or under the bed storage with a little creativity, so don't throw it away! In the hole where the drawer was, insert a piece of plywood cut to fit and adhere with small nails and glue. This spot makes a perfect shelf for things like Saran wrap, foil and parchment paper.
  • 2 - Next up is some general repair. Sand the top down as much as you feel it needs. If you plan on resealing the top, then don't worry about a little grime, it can only add to it's character. If you feel like eating off it and sealing it only with some linseed oil, then we suggest making good friends with the orbital or belt sander... it might take awhile. If the paint is too peely, don't be afraid to knock it off with a wire brush. You can add an additional layer of milk paint for a rustic look, or sand it all clean if you really think you have the energy for it.
  • 3 - With the assistance of a friend, lay the unit on it's back. After having purchased 6 casters from your local hardware store (Walmart also carries them), screw them into the bottom. A little wood glue applied to the threads of the screws prior to attachment will help keep things solid under pressure. We do suggest applying casters to the middle of the table to help support it.

    Invite your best of friends over and prepare them a great meal on your new kitchen island. If you don't have room in your kitchen, it can always be taken back out to the garage or into a basement for a board game area or even in a craft room to keep the creative juices flowing. If you are feeling extra creative, you can cut a hole in the top of the counter on the left hand side. Maybe place a trashcan under it and have in-counter trash disposal! Either way it would make a great project!

    (Photos via Craiglist and

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