Use Farm Antiques for DIY Home Projects

Farm antiques make great DIY home projects such as turning a cream separator into a lamp base, a galvanized wash tub into a planter, and other farm scraps into nifty and useful items.

| March/April 2013

  • old washtubs used as planters
    Welding up a table frame is a quick and easy way to turn these galvanized tin tubs into durable and convenient planters, particularly if you like the more ‘weathered’ look. You could easily do something similar with a wooden frame, if that tickles your fancy.
    Photo By Karen Keb
  • old iron and new glass make a great diy end table
    Repurposing old iron makes room in the budget for beautiful custom glass work.
    Photo By Karen Keb
  • framed calendar prints hung on a wall
    Beautiful calendar photographs can be kept alive and even improved by framing them as prints. For the garden-minded, prints from seed catalogs could be used the same way.
    Photo By Karen Keb
  • an old milk funnel makes a great kitchen light
    Enameled or galvanized funnels and cans are great for custom light fixtures with character.
    Photo By Karen Keb
  • framed calendar prints
    Beautiful calendar photographs can be kept alive and even improved by framing them as prints. For the garden-minded, prints from seed catalogs could be used the same way.
    Photo By Karen Keb
  • old gas station lights installed outside a barn
    Many inspiring bits and pieces, like these gas station lamps, can be found at rural antique stores.
    Photo By Karen Keb
  • Plowing With Pigs book cover
    "Plowing with Pigs" by Karen K. Keb and Oscar H. Will III
    Photo By Karen Keb
  • kitchen light made using an old mason jar
    Old jars can give lights a warmer texture without diminishing their luminosity.
    Photo By Karen Keb
  • old molding becomes a DIY coat rack
    This coat rack was once a piece of crosshead molding, framing a door in the farmhouse where it still hangs today.
    Photo By Karen Keb
  • two drop-down kitchen lights
    When you find yourself lacking the appropriate scraps to give your project the feel that you’re looking for, just make some, as with this light housing fabricated from galvanized sheet metal and polished to a dull sheen.
    Photo By Karen Keb

  • old washtubs used as planters
  • old iron and new glass make a great diy end table
  • framed calendar prints hung on a wall
  • an old milk funnel makes a great kitchen light
  • framed calendar prints
  • old gas station lights installed outside a barn
  • Plowing With Pigs book cover
  • kitchen light made using an old mason jar
  • old molding becomes a DIY coat rack
  • two drop-down kitchen lights

How often have you heard or said, “They don’t make things the way they used to”? In this day and age of disposable merchandise — from particle-board furniture to plastic electronics — there is still a way to embrace and cherish those well-made items from the past. And that doesn’t mean tucked away on a display shelf somewhere collecting dust. Those antiques and random pieces of rusty gold can be altered in minor ways to create unique and functional items for your farm and home. 

If you have a creative spirit and can’t or won’t part with hundreds of dollars to furnish your place with all the things it needs, you’ll love the notion of repurposing and salvaging items from the past. Look around. What can you do with that roll of rusty chicken wire? How about that vintage screen door hiding up in the barn rafters? With a little time and ingenuity, you’re on your way to some fun, imaginative and useful pieces for your home.

Any time you can reuse or repurpose something old and give it new, meaningful life in your home — thus saving it from the landfill — you’re truly being resourceful rather than purchasing new items that require petroleum to process in addition to traveling thousands of miles to the stores. With that and a low budget in mind, your best sources for salvageable items are rural antique stores; rural because prices are definitely lower than a big-city antique store with its high overhead. Rural antique stores also will have more of the “real deal” finds like milk cans and funnels that were trawled from farm auctions and estate sales in the area. Other sources include flea markets, thrift stores, yard sales, farm auctions and estate sales. Online sources like Craigslist (check daily under the appliances, antiques, furniture and household categories for items to reuse and repurpose), eBay and Etsy are all purveyors of unique items with lots of potential.

My spouse and I love to spend the day hunting for reusable treasures — you never know what you’ll uncover. Some of the following projects of ours require basic knowledge of electrical work and construction; others are for the less-handy and need only standard-issue creativity. There’s a difficulty rating assigned for each project from 1 to 5. If a project rates 1, this is easy and just about anyone could do it. A rating of 5 requires some fairly technical DIY skills.



Cream separator table

Difficulty: 1

Oftentimes when we discover some interesting piece of rusty gold while out antiquing, we’re not quite sure what it is. Am I right? When I spied this cast-iron base to an old mechanical cream separator, it was beyond rusty. My husband immediately knew what it was and admired it for its heft and history. Not quite knowing what we’d do with it, for $10 we brought it home and deposited it on our driveway, where it sat for about a year, enduring the elements. (This type of thing tends to happen quite often.) Then one day I was inspired, and it struck me: I would use the old cream separator base as a table base and make an end table for our living room.

www.EasyWoodwork.org
5/15/2018 7:26:46 PM

I used the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own projects – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)







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