Creative Reuse – Slab End Table

Creative Reuse – Slab End Table

Slab End Table Project Gives New Life to an Old Stump

America Recycles Day is November 15th. We, at Butcher Block Co., like to raise awareness and remind our readers that you can honor the spirit of this day, every day, just at home. Be mindful of what you use and what you waste. Strive to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose. It is fitting that early November is always bulk trash week in our neighborhood, so we keep an eye out for any “treasures” we can reuse. This week’s blog highlights one of the treasures we found in bulk trash earlier this year – a huge mesquite wood stump about 20″ high and 23″  wide. This stump will be reused for many projects. We start with this Slab End Table.

The goal of creative reuse, also called upcycling, is to find a purpose for items or materials that have been discarded. Many times tossed items can have an extended, useful life. The trick, or talent, is discovering and seizing this opportunity. Upcycling ultimately should, and can, have the overall environmental benefit of reducing your carbon footprint.

SLAB END TABLE – We love the unique asymmetrical shape of the stump combined with the variation in grain pattern and color.


  • We decided the large stump could be made into multiple projects so we had it cut into ten – 2″ thick slabs.
  • We then ran them threw a large planer to make the top and bottom of each slab even and smooth.
  • All the loose bark was peeled off of the edges, exposing the cream colored edge of the mesquite wood.
  • All sides were then sanded smooth.
  • We applied multiple coats of WATCO Danish Oil Finish to penetrate the grain and highlight the color and grain pattern.
  • The last step of finishing was to apply multiple coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Semi-Gloss Urethane.


This is a sister slab (after planing) before any prep work was done versus the finished Slab End Table in our living room.

We completed the table by attaching three 23″ black hairpin legs, from DIY Hairpin Legs, making this Slab End Table the perfect height for our sofa.

Total material cost of the project – approximately $50

SLAB NIGHTSTAND – We completed a similar project from a much smaller mesquite tree stump.

Share with us your creative reuse projects. We would love to hear from you!

Reuse Project – Butcher Block Table

Reuse Project – Butcher Block Table

America Recycles Day is November 15th. In honor of this day, and in the spirit of doing whatever we can every day to help our earth, we have embarked on a project to reuse some damaged butcher block.

Reuse is the practice of using something again, whether for its original purpose or to fulfill a different function.

We acquired some large commercial butcher block tops that were damaged in shipping. When they were returned to us they were extremely beat up and would have been destined for scrap. But not in this house! I would say we have great vision and can see value in many things other folks discard. This 8′ x 4′ x 2.25” Edge Grain Maple Butcher Block had gouges, cracks and scuff marks, yet we knew it could be given new life.

butcher block countertop

Concept – Butcher Block Bar Height Table

My son, Ben, is now in his senior year at ASU majoring in Industrial Design. One of his projects this summer was to research and design kitchen islands. He came up with a unique design for a bar height kitchen island made with angle iron, rebar and butcher block. He calls this industrial style island the “Truss Table.” We knew we could reuse this damaged butcher block to serve as the top and base of his new table.

Butcher Block Truss Table

Step One – Prep the butcher block.

The first step was to repair the cracked butcher block. Using gorilla glue and bar clamps we successfully pulled the laminated rails back together. Then using the table saw, we cut the large butcher block down to the desired size for the 72″ x 36″ table top and the beams to make the base. Given the damage on the top was significant, we ran the butcher block through a surface sander. Then we finished sanding by hand with an orbital sander using 80 grit to 150 grit paper. All edges were then eased.

Butcher Block cut

Step Two – Build the frame and base.

This was the first time Ben welded and he taught himself while welding the frame together. He cut the angle iron legs to size and all metal was sent to be powder coated in black matte.  While that was being done, he then built the wood foot rest/base of the table. To create the “truss design” with the rebar, a special jig was made to make certain the angles drilled into the base and table top lined up correctly.

Butcher Block Pieces

Step Three – Stain and Finish the wood.

Hard Rock Maple has a very tight grain and is difficult, if not impossible, to stain…or so I thought. However, we discovered a product called a “dye stain” that works extremely well. This product is water based and only required one coat to give this blonde maple top a rich cherry color. The only thing we noticed was that it raised the grain a bit, which we dealt with during finishing. Our new favorite top coat is General Finishes brand Arm-R-Seal Oil and Urethane Top Coat.  We applied a coat and let it dry. Then we used 0000 steel wool over it to help smooth the raised grain. We repeated this 2 more times, with finish and steel wool. The final coat (4th top coat) was then applied (do not steel wool over the last coat). The resulting top was as smooth as glass!

Butcher Block stain

Dye Stain and finish

Step Four – Assemble the table.

Given the table was designed to spec in Solid Works, prior to building, when it came to assembly, it was straightforward and only took one hour to assemble completely!  Ben would agree, that designing and building your own table may not pay much given all the hours it takes, but the satisfaction in creating a one-of-a-kind table is well worth it.  And we reused butcher block that would have been wasted and reused angle iron and rebar from the scrap yard. A job well done!

Maple Butcher Block Kitchen Island

BONUS – Maple Butcher Block Work Bench.

A second butcher block arrived totally broken in half down its length. We were able to reuse the smaller piece and transform it into a workbench 8′ x 2′. A chamfer edge and urethane top coat made this workbench good enough to eat off of!

Butcher Block Workbench

Read our other Creative Reuse/Recycling Blogs:

Creative Reuse – Furniture Projects

Creative Reuse – Furniture Projects

It’s that time of year again, when I like to raise awareness of America Recycles Day and share the small part I play to make the earth a better place to live. Last year I introduced you to “upcycling” and highlighted the creative reuse furniture projects my son, Ben, completed. This year, I am happy to say the entire family has been busy in the workshop repurposing and upcycling furniture and more. So this blog is sort of a Creative Reuse – Part II.

The spirit of upcycling is to not waste that which has, or could have, useful life. It focuses on reusing or repurposing materials and has the overall environmental benefit of reducing your carbon footprint.  It so happens that bulk trash pickup in my neighborhood falls in October.  And as I walk my dog around the neighborhood I find valuable treasures in other people’s junk piles…items that definitely still have a useful life.  So just last week we picked up an old BBQ grill and restored it with some elbow grease, paint and a few replacement parts and it works like new!  We also found a huge tree stump that will soon become the base for a new coffee table! We will save that for another blog, but my blog today focuses more on restoring items we already had around the house.

We honor America Recycles Day, November 15th, with a blog featuring our latest creative reuse projects.

Creative Reuse – 100 year old Door transformed into a Shabby/Chic Headboard

Creative Reuse Headboard

The feature project is the upcycling of this old door found at a scrap yard. Ben knew immediately upon seeing it that this would become the headboard for his girlfriend’s new bed. It started with removing the old hardware and scraping and sanding off all of the old paint. The porcelain door knob was a gem, so he cleaned and polished it like new. He then created his own “stain” by soaking steel wool in vinegar for a few days. The longer the steel wool soaks, the darker the stain becomes. He applied the stain and then put a matte polyurethane finish over it. He padded the headboard by cutting plywood to fit the panels in the door, covering them with batting and a soft flannel material, and gluing them to the door headboard.

Creative Reuse – Furniture from the past Reimagined with Chalk Paint

Creative Reuse Furniture 3
My husband inherited his baby dresser years ago, which is now over 50 years old.  In its day it had a beautiful walnut veneer but over the years it lost its appeal and was relegated to a closet to be used for storage.  But now that my eldest son is moving into his own home, we had the perfect opportunity to do what all empty nesters do…turn his bedroom into a guest bedroom!  So out of the closet came the baby dresser, and with a coat of lovely red chalk paint, this forgotten dresser has now become the focal point of the guest room!

Earlier this year we went to the local “Junk in the Trunk” vintage market and discovered a 100 year old desk top which happened to be missing its legs. It had no useful purpose, as is, so we purchased unfinished legs and again used our red chalk paint to upcycle this unwanted piece of furniture into a beautiful desk to match the dresser.

Our final project was repurposing an old file cabinet.  Straight out of the 80’s, this file cabinet was golden oak in color and definitely did not “fit” in my antique gray furnished office.  It was in the garage collecting dust when I had an epiphany that it would be a great nightstand for our new guest room.  I love red, so yep, red it is.  The guest room is done in charcoal gray and black so the red accent pieces are not as overpowering as you might think.

Creative Reuse – Recycling old blogs for America Recycles Day

Finally, I thought, why not “recycle” our blog from a couple years ago, in the true spirit of America Recycles Day.  Read more helpful tips on how you can “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Every Day”.

Look around your house.  What do you have that could be repurposed or upcycled into something useful and beautiful? Creative reuse is good for the earth and good for your soul.

Upcycling – Creative Reuse!

Upcycling – Creative Reuse!

Last year I blogged (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle. Every day.) about how I could do better recycling in my own household. I am happy to say that I implemented nearly all of the action items I identified last year. I still believe that everyone, doing their small part, can truly make a difference and help save our environment. I am very pleased to know that my recycling mentality has rubbed off on my son, Ben. He is an Industrial Design student at ASU and has a love of invention and building things in the workshop. Fortunately his dad taught him a great deal over the years about woodworking. My son decided this summer that he was going to “make all the furniture for my new apartment at college”. Given he qualifies as a starving college student, he set out to design and make furniture on the cheap. He did not know it at the time, but the type of work he was embarking on had a name – Upcycling. Or as I like to call it, Creative Reuse!

Upcycling, or Creative Reuse, is a great way to reuse materials and reduce our carbon footprint.

The phrase, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is so apropos. Ben did not have to look far to discover all sorts of valuable materials just lying around our neighborhood and community. Some of the materials were truly just trashed, while others may have found their way to scrap yards. But he certainly created new, high quality furniture from unwanted or useless materials. Here is his summer Upcycling portfolio…

Blog Upcycle
Bar-Height Kitchen Table
Restaurant Bathroom Door found at a local second-hand furniture store.
Iron panels from scrap yard
Black iron plumbing  pipe(new)

Blog Upcycle
Bar Stools
Aluminum Wheels from his old car. No takers on Craig’s list. These aluminum wheels were just too cool to take to the aluminum recycling center.
Steel Pipe from scrap yard
Fishing Boat Seats (new) and very affordable.
Blog Upcycle
Restaurant Bathroom Door from a local second-hand furniture store
Aluminum Panels from scrap yard
Aluminum I-beams from old patio awning
Landscape Lights destined for recycling center
Wood (new)
Blog Upcycle
Coffee Table
Used wood pallet
Stakes (for concrete forms)
Blog Upcycle
Living Room Chair
Beams from our neighbor’s old patio awning, discarded in a bulk trash pile
Sturdy Lawn Chair with new cushions
Thread rod
Blog Upcycle
Cam shaft from his old car
Old transmission gear donated from local mechanic shop
Aluminum drafting lamp (new)
Blog Upcycle
Wall Hangings
Corrugated aluminum sheet
Poster (new)
Wood pallet
Extra Christmas lights

November 15th is America Recycles Day. It takes very little effort to do the right thing, so do your part…  Reuse, Reduce, Recycle and Upcycle!  Do you have a great Upcycling project?  Please share with our readers.

Wood: An Environmentally-Friendly Choice

Wood: An Environmentally-Friendly Choice

While we always have wood on our minds here at Butcher Block Co., this week we are honoring North American Hardwood trees, as we celebrate both Earth Day and Arbor Day. Because our business revolves around wood, it is important for us to be conscious of the environmental impact this industry has, and to be careful that the manufacturers we support are good stewards of the Earth.

Did you know that most U.S. Hardwood forests are found in the eastern half of the United States? U.S. Hardwood inventory has increased each of the past five decades, and annual new hardwood tree growth exceeds harvest by a margin of two to one!hardwood map 300

We at ButcherBlockCo are proud to sell butcher block products from John Boos, a recognized leader for their responsible “green” manufacturing processes.

John Boos only buys wood from suppliers who are members of the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) that focuses on replenishing forests through reforestation. Individual trees are selected for harvest, encouraging forests to renew and regenerate themselves naturally. And none of the wood used in the manufacturing of butcher block products goes to waste. The short leftover pieces of wood are used to make end-grain boards, and pieces not long enough to repurpose are ground into sawdust that they burn to generate steam for their kilns used to dry the wood. The extra sawdust is also recycled as livestock bedding for local farms.

Twitter Manufacturers Environmentally friendly

Not only are butcher blocks sturdy and beautiful, they’re made of wood…a natural material that’s renewable, sustainable, recyclable, and biodegradable!

  • Durable – Wood furniture lasts for years and years.
  • Renewable – You can cut them down and replant ones in their place.
  • Sustainable – More are planted than are harvested.
  • Recyclable – You can reuse it or repurpose it pretty easily.
  • Biodegradable – Wood is an organic material that will break down naturally.

John Boos has active recycling programs in place with 95% of all wood scrap and sawdust being recycled.

While it may at first seem counterintuitive to consider wood an environmentally-friendly choice, when grown and harvested responsibly, it actually makes a positive impact. We’ve only got one Earth, and we’re set on doing our part to keep its resources abundant. We hope you feel confident choosing butcher block for your home!


Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Every Day.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Every Day.

I have always been passionate about recycling. As I get older I find it plays a more important role in my day and I try to live by the “reduce, reuse, and recycle ” mentality. I have found that with very little extra effort, “reduce, reuse, and recycle” can become part of your life. Not only do I feel good about the positive impact it can have on our earth, I have seen my habits rub off on my kids, too. I do believe they will be conscientious consumers when they are heads of their households.

I was inspired when I was about 10 years old, when my sister lead a local Green Earth recycling campaign out of the basement of our home. I remember answering phone calls and collecting recycled materials and taking it to the local recycling center. This was well before recycling was a household word. Fast forward 40 years… Recently, I spent a week in Spain and was once again reminded how the Europeans are minimalists in their consumption of packaged goods. And in the large cities it is common place for multiple, huge recycling bins to be on street corners. Again, for them, it is just a way of life.

It is easy to become a better consumer. Simply Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

America Recycles Day is November 15th, a good time to raise awareness and share tips for becoming a better, responsible consumer. I am fortunate to live in a city that makes recycling very easy. The City of Phoenix provides us with large blue trash bins and allows ALL recyclables to co-mingle into one bin. No sorting. And they recycle nearly all streams: All plastic bottles, plastic jugs, clear and colored glass bottles, cardboard and food boxes, aluminum and metal cans, newspaper, catalogs, and junk mail! My goal every week is to have my blue recycle bin filled twice as high as my green compost bin by being the best recycler I can be. I did a bit of internet research on tips to “reduce, reuse, and recycle” and then evaluated what I am doing well, and where I can improve:

What I do well:

  • Designate a space and a couple bins for recyclables in the laundry room closet. Plus, I have a hanging bag for storing plastic bags.
  • Locate a bin in the garage for more hazardous materials like light bulbs, electronics, batteries, aerosol containers, paints.
  • Recycle glass containers and always clean them out well before I put in the bin.
  • Recycle newspapers. Recycle magazines or give them to a friend.
  • Recycle all plastic containers. Clean them well and remove their caps.
  • Recycle steel cans.
  • Collect aluminum cans and take them to a local scrap metal facility. My son helps with this and gets the cash as a little bonus.
  • Buy products made from recycled content.
  • Repurpose stuff: I find value in so many things and find alternative uses.
  • But when there is no longer a purpose, we collect scrap metal and get cash for it.
  • Someone’s trash is another man’s treasure – I was reminded again this week when we placed an old garden hose in the quarterly trash pickup pile. Someone came by and cut off the brass ends of our worn out hose. I forgot about that, but was pretty happy someone else remembered. And the next day someone found value in our old garden hose and took that.
  • Use reusable grocery bags and have numerous ones in both cars. We have significantly reduced the amount of plastic and paper bags we bring home.
  • Write on both sides of printed scrap paper.

What I can do better:

  • Reduce and recycle junk mail. I have removed myself from many mailing lists, but it is the endless solicitations, coupons, and election material that is so frustrating. I will commit to placing 2 bins in my office and separate immediately to capture recyclable materials.
  • Recycle plastic over-wraps. I just learned that the plastic around cases of water bottles, and outer wrap of paper towels and toilet paper can be recycled with plastic bags at many grocery stores.
  • Reduce the amount of plastic water bottles I buy.
  • Buy paper towels and toilet paper made of recycled materials rather than virgin paper towels. I have not noticed if I am buying these with recycled materials or not, but I will look now.
  • I will take plastic bags back to the grocery store. While I reuse many of them, the ones I use do ultimately go into landfills which is discouraging.
  • Buy fewer single serve containers. Soda in 2 liter bottles versus a 12 pack of cans.

I encourage you to view this video on what happens to the recycled materials when they are picked up from your curb. This informative video explains the “Materials Recovery Facility” process in Phoenix. Pretty neat how they separate everything.

Also check out this great site from Waste Management to help give you guidelines for recycling.
And see how some creative folks have “repurposed” plastic bags and plastic bottles into forms of art at our Pinterest board: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

I challenge you to at least make 1 change in your household to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
And honor America Recycles Day: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Every day.

Cans 975

Image credit: Phoenix Public Works Video


Plastics 975

Image credit: Phoenix Public Works Video