DIY

Re-Purposing

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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 Firewood Holder

Things wear out and break over time. Such was the case with the rear blade for our tractor. Life in the mountains can be tough on equipment and people and our rear blade had broken and had been welded but it subsequently broke again in the same place. We therefore replaced the blade and had to decide what to do with the broken blade. We are always on the lookout for something to re-purpose and this was no exception. 

Reducing The Tractor Blade To Parts:

Tractor blades are made of thick heavy steel and in order to envision its re-purpose it first had to be reduced to separate parts. As I surveyed the disassembled parts it was with a vision as to what if anything they could be used for. At first nothing came to mind but as I observed the parts laying there over the next couple months I did find a suitable purpose for them. One of the very heavy parts of the blade with a flat bottom would do well as a end stop for a row of firewood, especially when I bolted the cross support to it to extend its height. Driving a ‘T’ stake into the ground to hold a row of firewood doesn’t always work due to our rocky ground. This heavy steel part holds the row of firewood without pulling out of the ground allowing the firewood to fall down.

Firewood Holder:

Two other supports on the blade, which were bent, looked suited for an idea I had held for quite a while. Each winter as we use firewood we have to hike up the mountain to our woodshed each day, sometimes more than once, to bring in firewood to keep us warm since we heat our cabin with a wood stove. I was able to use the bent supports to fashion a firewood holder that we could put close to the house thereby reducing the number of trips to the woodshed to maybe once per week. We have a large material sled that we can use to pull firewood down to the firewood holder and then access the firewood from it instead of making numerous long walks to the woodshed.

Construction Of A Firewood Holder:

During a recent wildfire we had our fence damaged wherein the bottom cross supports were burned as well as some of the bottoms of upright posts and had to be replaced. I had the 4X4 uprights laying next to the house to haul to the community burn site. None were totally destroyed but burned to where they couldn’t be used for the fence. As the photo depicts the 2X4’s were used for the sides and the 4X4’s cut as spacers. The bent steel supports were lag bolted to each end and a firewood holder was born. We virtually had no cost other than the purchase of a tarp to cover the firewood and keep it dry.  Using the steel supports, the partially burned fence posts and supports and lag bolts which we had on hand kept our cost negligible.

Vision And Ingenuity:

To reuse what otherwise would be useless parts and make something functional and useful requires vision and some ingenuity. If after a reasonable amount of time we don’t find a use for an item we dispose of it so we don’t end up accumulating trash. To see a useless item re-purposed and made into something usable or with a different function is rewarding.

Another Example Of  Re-purposing:

I was in need of a hand held pruning saw and noticed new ones were costly. When I purchased our pole saw many years ago I purchased two extra blades to go with it. As I looked upon the extra blade for the pole saw I thought if it had a handle I could use it as a pruning saw. I then remembered about 20 years ago on a hike we found shredded elk antlers. I went and checked and they were still on the ground where we  had laid them. One of the antler tines looked like it would work as a handle so I cut and formed it to accommodate the spare blade (see photo ). I now have a solid pruning saw that enables me to cut off lower tree limbs where using the pole saw is awkward. Doing so makes navigation through our property more manageable.

Re-purposed Wood Stove:

When our home was being built the contractor asked if we would buy an old wood stove he had so he could stay warm while finishing the inside of the house. It was supposed to be airtight but wasn’t and leaked smoke into the house. We replaced it as living with a stove that emitted as much smoke into the house as it did outside was dangerous. We put the old steel homemade stove under the house until we could figure out what to do with it.

A New Purpose:

That was answered for us when a good friend and also a landowner in our community came out to hunt elk. He asked if he could borrow the stove to cook on as he could stoke up the stove and it would be slow cooking his meal while he was out hunting. When he brought the stove back we set it up as an outdoor cook stove where it wouldn’t matter if it leaked smoke or not. We have since had many breakfasts cooked on that stove which is still kept outside and is back to being functional again albeit a different function than originally designed for. It has provided many meals due to its being re-purposed.

The moral of this blog on re-purposing is that before you throw anything away consider the possibility that it or its components could be re-purposed into something useful.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their remote lifestyle, living in a small cabin in the mountains of S. Colorado with their three senior German Shepherd Dogs, go to:www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com

Photos by Bruce McElmurray


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