WNY's Largest Supplier of Reclaimed and Surplus Building Material

February workshops!

Announcing TWO workshops for the month of February… Make a Picture Frame Tuesday February 7th 6-9pm Rusted Grain, 1212 Jefferson Ave Bring a picture and build a frame for it using all reclaimed wood! Suggested donation. Making Birdhouses for Gilda’s Club Monday February 20th 6-9pm Rusted Grain, 1212 Jefferson Avenue Every year Gilda’s Club has a spring fundraiser in which they auction off birdhouses which are decorated by club members as well as local artists.  This year Rusted Grain has committed to building several birdhouses in addition to teaching a workshop for anyone who wants to donate time to a … Read more

Don’t Buy New, ReDo!

With this article, we’re announcing the latest ReUse Action service: Wood Window Rehabilitation. We can give free estimates and do whole house restoration of wood windows. Before you buy new, give ReUse Action a try. Call us today for an evaluation of your project. Stay tuned for more articles on energy-saving renovations. ReUse Action can help you make your home warmer this winter, while still retaining all the character of the “old-fashioned” double hung sashes that came with your house when it was built. Most Buffalo homes were equipped with wooden (usually pine) double hung sash windows. These can be … Read more

What a Successful Organizer-making Workshop!

Last Tuesday night we had 12 people attend the How to Make Your Own Organizer workshop at Action HQ in the Rusted Grain woodshop.  Each participant made an “organizer” out of wood scraps and old dresser drawers that we taken from trash piles at the side of the road.  It amazed us how varied and creative each organizer turned out.  Take a look at the example below! Jeanenne made a spice rack for her kitchen.  Ikea made a knick-knack holder.  Cayla and Emmanuel made a small bookshelf.  To see more pictures of the workshop, click here.  If you like what … Read more

Tuesday 12/13: Make Your Own Organizer

Using old dresser drawers, plywood and wood scraps, the ladies in the woodshop will be conducting a class on how to make your own storage unit/organizer.  A perfect holiday gift or to help aid in your New Year’s resolution of being neat and tidy.  There will be a few designs to choose from.  Workshop is free, donations accepted.  RSVP is greatly appreciated as we will be pre-cutting some pieces in preparation for the workshop.  Full details: Action HQ (1212 Jefferson) 6pm-9pm Note: The woodshop is NOT HEATED (yet).  Please bring extra layers. We will provide the tea and hot chocolate! … Read more

Cool ReUse: Doors as Drywall

The style in our friend Dennis’s house is, let’s say . . . anti-drywall.  Old dresser drawers cover one wall of his house and act as both the finished wall and shelving units.  Another wall is covered with old, wooden organ pieces.  No wall is the same, and none use drywall.  We think it’s pretty cool stuff. So when Dennis came to us to help with his newest idea of doors serving the place of drywall, we said ummmm . . . . YES! Hollow core doors were purchased for roughly $10/door and were screwed in with joints alternating for … Read more

Workshop: making wooden bottle openers

Kids are reading less, people use e-books more, and libraries are scrambling for what to do about it.  One common solution is to close libraries and get rid of books (sound familiar Buffalo?).   Instead, one library in British Columbia is changing the way we think about libraries; they have a collection of “living books,” local experts, who have volunteered to share their knowledge on specific subjects.  Want to know about the history of the circus? Want to learn a certain painting technique?  “Check out” a living expert that will meet with you to discuss your topic of interest!  Libraries remain … Read more

Harvesting Our City

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way ReUse Action acquires materials in Buffalo through green demos and salvage jobs and have come to the conclusion that what we are doing is much like mining for coal, only better.  What we are essentially doing is a more sustainable form of mining, in cities.  We are learning to use our city as an incredible and harvestable resource!  Harvesting material that is destined for a landfill, learning how to process it, reuse it and resell it.   We are “a community of tradesmen and women, artists, designers, and community members…” changing the … Read more

Alternatives to Toxic Pressure-Treated Wood

I heard an analogy recently that “Pressure treatment is to wood what embalming is to humans.” If that analogy is accurate (and I think it is), it’s all we need to know to understand the dangers of using pressure treated (PT) wood.  Pumping toxic chemicals into wood–or into bodies–to extend the preservation lifetime has negative effects on the environment those chemicals will eventually come in contact with, not to mention health effects associated with workers handling such toxic chemicals.

But . . .  you have a porch to build.  And now you don’t want to use PT lumber?  Luckily there are many alternatives.  Below is not a 100% complete list, but only a quick and dirty list of what’s available these days . . .

Pressure-treated minus toxic chemicals

Kebony

The kebonization process soaks wood in a specific alcohol that is a waste byproduct from sugar cane and the alcohol functions as a resin that guards the cell structure of the wood. Unlike PT lumber, there are no precautions beyond normal to work with this wood or to handle clean up.

Accoya

Very similar to Kebony, but instead of using a byproduct of cane sugar, acetic acid is used.  The process of acetylization transforms the cell structure of the wood so that it is does not shrink or expand a lot and is thus minimally affected by changes in moisture levels.  The company argues that this feature makes Accoya more dimensionally stable than conventionally pressure-treated wood.

Glass fortified lumber

Lumber infused with sodium silicate (liquid glass) and heated up so it forms a glass-like cell structure, protecting the wood from fire, rot and insect damage.  The process increases the strength and hardness of the wood and is good for ground contact applications.

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Urban Café Style Gardening

Coffee Beans BagsWith more than 17,000 vacant properties in the City of Buffalo, one would hope we could transform a larger percentage of those lots into productive space, even if only for a few growing seasons. Other cities, like Detroit, are figuring out ways to turn formerly residential land into small farms or large gardens that grow food for their soup kitchens, congregations or the needy.  The problem is that dirt you put a house on isn’t the same kind of dirt you grow tomatoes in.

What are some solutions? Most urban gardeners don’t have the patience to remediate soil over several years, so we either have to dig out the dirt and replace it with truckloads of soil OR truck in lots of soil to fill raised beds.  Another way is to make your own dirt.

I’m trying a combination of strategies with The Garden of Stewardship over on East Eagle. The garden is on the property of Sheehan Health Network.  It was a big fenced-in grassy area. We cannot dig into the ground because it’s a very thin layer of dirt covering an awful lot of clay.  The grass/weeds are using what little dirt there is.  So, I decided to smother the grass and build our soil on top of it.  I am calling the strategy, the Urban Café Gardening Method to acknowledge the fact that all the materials we’ll use are found readily in cities–cities with coffee drinkers anyway!  Here’s how you can replicate it in your space.

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