Trash to Treasure

We live in a dense urban area where metal scavenging is a serious business. There is an entire cadre of folks who drive through the alleys of our fair city picking up metal garbage to recycle for cash. In some ways it’s kind of awesome – you can always get rid of metal scrap just by tossing it on your curb or in your alley. It will most likely get picked up within 20 minutes. The downside? There is almost never any good metal treasures left out for me to find on my long walks with Lucy. I routinely see scrapping trucks drive by with complete patio sets tumbled in the back that just need a good sanding and some rustoleum. Luckily, a couple of weeks ago, Pete and Lucy and I were biking on a Sunday and happened to find this.



Clearly, this picnic table had seen better days. The top and bench were totally rotted and the paint was flaking off the metal base. I knew it would be fairly straightforward to add a new top so I begged Pete to drive the truck back to pick it up. I can’t believe it was still there! It was on a Sunday though, so I’m guessing the scrappers were at church. We hauled that bad boy home and took off the top and benches, which basically disintegrated in our hands. It was really easy to just unbolt the pieces from the sturdy metal frame.



We scrubbed it down with a wire brush and then used a drill with a wire brush attachment to strip as much paint as possible. This thing had years of porch paint on it. We bought some of my favorite paint (Rustoleum high performance enamel) and Pete went to town. We replaced the top and bench seats with cedar and gave the wood a coat of Thompson’s Water Seal.

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I love the bright color and the fresh cedar. This things is solid as a rock. I love that you can fit a ton of kids on the benches and that the cedar is naturally rot resistant.  I was planning to buy an outdoor patio set this year once we made a little progress with the backyard so finding and revamping this beast saved us between 500-1000 bucks. We just need to by an offset patio umbrella (oh and finish landscaping the backyard, build the deck, and replace the fence) but at least we have a place to eat!

Speaking of landscaping, Pete and our contractor Sean are spending memorial day weekend using a bobcat to dig out and level our back yard. You can see in the pictures where we started to do it by hand, by after a couple hours of digging  we realized that we really need to use heavy machinery to deal with the amount of dirt that has to be removed. Our yard is about six inches higher than our neighbor’s yard and slopes toward our house (!!!) So removing the dirt and debris and sloping the yard toward the street should help a lot with drainage. We still haven’t decided whether to plant seed or lay sod, but I’m looking forward to having a green yard instead of a mud pit.

How about you guys? Got big DIY plans for Memorial day weekend?


ps. Thanks again for all your thoughtful emails, texts and calls. Pete and I really appreciate all your support.

3 responses

  1. Verrrrrry nice! I found your post while searching WP for “thrifty.” This kind of reminds me of that old comedy, Sanford & Sons! Great job with the new picnic table. Wish we had one for our backyard.

  2. Pingback: The Deck! « handmaidtales

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