American Woodworker

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Tossed away furniture looking for a new home on a sidewalk near you.

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Whether you live in a big city, the suburbs, or the country side, you have probably noticed that people trash more then they should - tossing away objects, materials, and furniture that still have much potential and functionality. This often devastating reality can actually provide an opportunity to us furniture lovers and crafts people, as it gives us the possibility to pick up, repair, and restore beautiful pieces that someone else, for lack of knowledge, space, or time, decided to discard. All you need is to open your eyes wide and be bold enough to sort through items that others wrongly labeled as trash (but that we know are actually treasures). Your first treasure hunting activity will not be easy.  Believe me, it will bring about profound self esteem questions such as: Who am I?  Did I really become a dumpster diver? You might even question your mental sanity or your social standing. But, as time passes you will begin to develop what I call "trash-picker skin".  On top of the tough skin, your hunter eyes will focus and you will be able to spot from a distance treasures that no one else sees. You will begin to distinguish, even in dim light conditions or during torrential rain storms, between the silhouette of a cardboard box and that of a beautiful cubic coffee table, and the outline of a chair from that of a fire hydrant flanked by trash bags.

Your only shortcoming of this marvelous activity is the gradual disappearance of space in your shop or home. You might also lose your spouse in the process, but I came up with techniques to defuse that risk which I will talk about at length in a future post.

Let me show you some pictures I took over the last year in Manhattan showing pieces that were put out as trash. I could only save a few of them from the jaws of the trash truck, but I took some nice pictures to document this frustrating fate of furniture made with loving hand by people like you and me.