Re-Purposeful

As you know, we like to take old things and make them look new.  We also like to re-purpose things when possible.  And a while back, we were able to finally replace an ancient (pre-Pueblo) bookcase I got in an office garage sale with a real piece of furniture.  The question was, what do to with the old bookcase, which we really didn’t need as an actual bookcase anymore.  Daughter didn’t want it, it wouldn’t fit in the basement, so out to the garage it went, awaiting some form of new life when the inspiration hit.

For reference purposes, here is the bookcase:

Today was a brilliant day weather wise, warm, sunny and holding the promise of spring, even if it’s nearly 8 weeks too early.  G of course was antsy to do something, having sworn off Farmville forever (yes, it’s true).  So, she pulled out the compost and tilled it into one garden, hacked away at a stump of a tree we had to have removed recently and then, the bookcase came into her sights.  A few swipes with the saw, a couple of free 4 x 4’s trimmed to the right length and some wheels from a local hardware store that she bought a while back, and voila–a raised bed for the patio.  Lettuce and chard, here we come!

I’ll put down a good layer of shredded junk mail, then cover with a good layer of topsoil mixed with our compost.  That’ll keep the weight down.  I expect this baby will be full of growing goodies all this coming year and maybe for the following couple, too.  We may just roll it into the greenhouse and see if we can keep up with the cold weather stuff year round. Who knows?

All from an ancient, $5.00 bookcase bought over 20 years ago.  Not bad, not bad at all!

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11 thoughts on “Re-Purposeful

  1. One of your lurkers here! Not sure, but it looks as if the bookcase might be made of MDF. If so, two things will happen. When it gets wet (it will, even through the veneer), it is going to start falling apart and when it does start breaking down, it is going to leach nasty things into your soil. MDF is very toxic, especially when wet. I am highly allergic to the dry dust which is bad since I am a remodeler. Sorry to deliver bad news after such a great job, but thought you should know. I really enjoy reading your blog, you are such a talented writer.

  2. Thanks for the information, Manon! We were fairly sure that this wouldn’t hold up for more than a season or two even under the covered patio, but were not aware of the more toxic properties. How can we tell for sure if this is MDF? There are still some pieces left we could take somewhere.

    • Well, I am about 99% certain it is. When furniture is covered in that kind of laminate and fastened with those kind of fasteners, it usually is. MDF is heavier than regular wood. If you cut it, then you should be able to look at the cut edge and see that it is not real wood or plywood. MDF is basically fine sawdust mixed with horrible glued and stabilizers and then it is put under a great deal of pressure and heat to form a panel. MDF is used often in cheaper kitchen and bath cabinets and in kits for shelving, desks, and storage cabinets. A lot of closet shelving is made of it. I don’t usually recommend Wikipedia for research, but their article appears to be pretty accurate and has a good picture of the end-grain that you could use to compare to yours. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medium-density_fibreboard Keep in mind that yours won’t look exactly the same as your sawcut will not be as polished as theirs. You might still be able to use it if you line it with something that is waterproof and food safe, but I am not sure what that would be as most plastics also break down and off-gas with sunlight exposure. Could you maybe use it as a portable storage bin in the garage? Maybe with a shelf below it too? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

      • I have built a number of raised beds and in process, have learned a lot about food-safe containers. The best seems to be cedar. Instead of scrapping the whole project, I would suggest replacing the bottom (plywood is put together with nasty stuff too) and sides with cedar boards. I would also suggest drilling 1/2″ holes about every three inches in the bottom, then putting an inch or two of rock in the bottom to provide drainage just like a flower pot. It will also keep your box from rotting out as fast. Feel free to delete my comments or to use them if you revamp it and post again so that others might be informed.

  3. Hello Manon and Grumpy Granny – thanks for the info! I want to build a raised bed and was planning to re-use a damaged plastic shower pan – about 3 x 5 for the based. Given this I am rethinking using that given that it is plastic. There is a central drain and I was going to drill some holes, put in gravel and then the soil mixture. Think I will keep the same plan but plan to used non treated pine for a test run – from pallets. GG – LOVE the height! That is a true back saver. I may make a few and put on the back patio to make watering and harvesting easier.

  4. Hi, Miss Mary. We have decided to keep the planter. Going to paint the inside with swimming pool paint–same thing we put on our bathroom walls when we first moved in before we decided to tile. I think it should seal it well enough for our purposes. The bottom is NOT MDF and since we aren’t going to put it in the actual ground, I think it will hold up okay if it gets wet just from the watering. As I said, this wasn’t supposed to be permanent. Yes, it’s the perfect height for me–I’d love the entire garden to be that height! Thanks again, Manon, for the information. I hope you keep lurking.

    • Painting is a great idea! I am in the mood to get started gardening – a rainy/snowy/cold day is the perfect weather to day dream! I am thinking of making several to put along the back – good sun and easy to water. I looked at the wood pile out back and there is some great stuff to work with. And on a rather ICK note – if they are raised then cats and other critters can get into them!

  5. Neat blog! Do the rules allow submitting inner-webs pictures for the Cabbage Recipe Contest? I can’t actually MAKE my dish until St. Pat’s day. But I can submit the recipes and show an idea of what it will look like.

  6. GG, a neighbor of mine made a series of planters out of book cases and drawers. Awesome repurposing! They lasted pretty well, considering that we live in the PNW and get a whole lot more rain than you do.

    Good solution to the chemical issue!

  7. Pingback: A Few Things « Grumpy Granny

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