One of the things we wanted to accomplish with the Container House Project, was to make it an as eco-friendly a project as possible. We used the scruffiest shipping containers we could find, we are using reclaimed wood for the frames in which the windows will fit, and many of our bathroom fixtures will be reclaimed from previous installations too. Last week, we had the opportunity to lay our hands on some reclaimed crate wood.
A friend donated three large crates for our project, from a shipment that recently arrived from the USA. The only catch was that we had to move them ourselves. We were obviously quite happy with the terms and conditions and set aside a day to dismantle the crates so that we could move them.
What the Crates are Made From
One of the best things about crates manufactured in the USA is that their rubbish Oregon pine that they use is better quality than our average South African pine. So, we got some Oregon pine to use on the container house as well as other laminate (think plywood) lengths. Bonus!
The flat boards that made up the crates, though, is what we were most excited about. They are OSB (Oriented Strand Board) sheets that are strong and have an awesome texture to them. OSB is kind of a mixture between chipboard and plywood and it is something we really did want to incorporate somewhere in the project. We are so happy!
Eco-Friendly is Often Hard Work
Reclaiming material is not the “easy” path. It’s better for the environment and sometimes your budget, but you often pay in labour. Removing bathroom fixtures, for instance, can be painstaking work as you have to be very careful not to damage or break anything. Disassembling crates is just as hard work.
Many crates are nailed together, but these crates had the advantage of being screwed together. The only real way to remove nails from crates is by using a crowbar or claw hammer. Invariably, the planks are damaged by the use of these tools. Screws make it much easier to disassemble, while armed with a drill, and the damage to the planks and boards is a lot less.
One more thing to note is that when working with reclaimed wood, there may be broken screws and/or unseen nails in the wood which could damage your wood-working machinery later on. Be very careful!
Dismantling The Crates
It was hard work. Very hard work. It took Kevin and a buddy four hours in the sun to remove over two thousand screws and to reduce the boxes to flat boards and various lengths of wood. But the end result was more wood than we anticipated. Absolutely fantastic for our house!
We also now have a box of removed screws, many, if not most, of which we should be able to reuse. We will have to go through the box and discard any screws that are bent or have been too severely damaged. However, the savings we have made by doing this work has definitely been worth the effort and the splinters.
Our Plans for the Reclaimed Crate Wood
Our first plan is to make some rudimentary shelves. We need somewhere more convenient to store materials and tools so that they can be easily accessed. This will save us time when we’re working on the project as we’ll be able to find the things we need quickly.
Once we no longer need the shelves, we’ll be able to reuse that wood again for something else. We have some awesome plans for the wood. However, we don’t want to let slip too many spoilers, so please continue watching this blog. We will be sharing all soon!
Have you ever reclaimed wood or another material for a new project? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.