Making the best of mother nature’s wrath: Re-purposing fallen tree limbs into eco-stylish coat racks!
Mother nature is really ticked-off! No doubt you’ve noticed the number of and the severity of storms hitting our country? Starting in 2011 with, first Hurricane Irene and then the mega snow storm on October 29, and then last year Super Storm Sandy, the north east has been pummeled pretty hard.
In New Jersey, we had thousands of trees ripped out of the ground by their roots, others simply snapping by the force of the storms. Like most of my neighbors, I was not spared, losing 2 beautiful, healthy, tall black walnut trees. Okay, so some of the wood ended up as firewood but black walnut is beautiful hard wood. I am so sorry to see it go up in flames.
I have contacted several logging/milling/word-working folks to see if they might able to re-use the wood for furniture or veneers but the limbs and branches are another story. So I got my tools and got to work. First I went out and selected several smaller limbs and larger branches. As you can see, I had a lot of really good chunks of my trees from which to choose.
Then I went back inside, which is a good thing because it’s still pretty darn cold outside, headed for my bin a scrap wood (cannot live with out that!) and grabbed several pieces of left-over flooring – maple. Measured my frame size and cut the pieces to size. I use a circular saw, a pretty heavy duty one. I’m one of those Green Divas who has no fear of power tools. So there’s my frame. To keep the look a bit more rustic, I opted for “barn door” joints as opposed to miter cuts.
Next I assembled the smaller tools I would need; screws, nails, a hammer and glue and got to work. One by one I pre-drilled holes in each end and in a small piece of plywood I cut for each corner. I use the plywood like you might use an L-bracket, except it didn’t cost me a penny. It too was in my scrap wood box … ya see? ya never know!
Once the glue has dried the frame is ready for the branches and limbs. This is the fun part. Cut your branches so that they fit inside the frame. Mix it up; put thicker limbs next to smaller branches and make sure to lay everything out where the “hooks” are staggered and not laying right next to each other. With a marker or a pencil, put a mark on the top outside part of the frame at the center of where each branch/limb will go AND mark the bottom outside as well. Make sure to remember in what order you plan on installing the branches. It’s a good idea to number them to correspond with the marks where you’ll be drilling holes. Drill a small pilot hole at every mark on the frame. One by one, put a dab of glue on each end of the branch and start nailing your “hooks” into place. Since I generally work alone, taking a picture of myself while trying to assemble what will be my latest self-proclaimed masterpiece, I had to scour the internet to find the picture below. Clearly that’s not me; I’m a brunette and not quite that thin. 🙁 .
Let the glue dry overnight and you’re done. I’ve hung the coat rack just outside my office that way anyone coming in from the house can hang their coats & scarves up before coming into the office and anyone coming in from outside on the other end of the office, can do the same before heading into the house. When winters are as cold and nasty as they’ve been recently here in New Jersey, you can never have enough places for the winter gear needed to stay warm.
At the risk of sounding a bit too much like an infomercial, here goes – But wait … there’s more! Using what Mother Nature provides to hang your stuff doesn’t have to be as complex as what I just showed you. Take a look at what else can be done with limbs and branches. Clearly, depending on your taste or on the room you have or the wall you need hooks on, the possibilities just keep on coming.
Here’s an idea from Mother Earth News. Folks there are also fed up with coats, scarves and backpacks slung over furniture. Scott Kriner came up with this solution to end the clutter … pretty cool huh? And it’s easy to make, and will add a “wow” factor wherever it’s displayed.
Out of Canada comes Stevie. She has another great way to use branches to make a coat and what-have-you rack. Her’s is a bit more elegant and perhaps a bit neater that the rustic one I put together. It all depends on your taste. Again, this is easy-peesie to make.
And now for something (almost) completely different. A great DIY coat rack idea combining fancy hooks and a sturdy branch. Just taking one larger, longer branch, painting it silver and adding fancy hooks like the kind you might find at an antique ort thrift store, you’ll get a very easy and very elegant rack. Perfect for a powder room or perhaps your boudoir!
Great ideas but oh, I’m not done yet. Take a look at another simple, and efficient way to hang up your stuff … or all the stuff your kids might bring in like backpacks, their best friend’s scarf (any mom can tell you, there are “mystery” clothes showing up all the time) or the dog leash when they’ve finished walking the dog … yeah, like that ever happens. Get a dog for the kids, mom walks the dog! At any rate, get branches – here’s they’ve used birch; very neat and clean and screw as many as you might need right onto the wall.
A similar idea is to take branches, remove the bark and varnish or poly seal each one. This really makes the natural grain of the wood pop. If I were making these, I would choose branches from as many different trees I could find simply because when the bark is removed and the branch sealed and glossed, the grain and colors will vary making each one uniques and beautiful in it’s own way.
Which ever project you are inspired to undertake, remember how much beauty there is in the simplicity Mother Nature provides us every day. Out of some pretty harsh, devastating and destructive weather, here’s a little good. It may be a nice way of remembering that horrible storm of 2012 or just another way of using that which has been destroyed to create a a piece of functional art which lives in your home.