< DIY Craft Projects - Trash to Treasure - FAQ

DIY Craft Projects - Trash to Treasure - FAQ

Lead Paint

Q:I'm loving your website! right up my alley:-) I was thinking of doing some projects with some old windows, but I know they have lead paint on them. Is there any way to salvage them, or does the lead paint make them unusable??

A:I'm no expert on lead paint, but I have a few tips. Sand or scrape off any loose chips, Then if you want, you can paint over them or simply paint or spray over with a clear poly varnish. This should seal in the lead, and lastly don't eat them :) Remember when sanding to wear a mask so you don't breathe the dust. I would NOT recommend old pieces with lead paint, be hung or used in a child's room. Hope that helps, as I said I'm no expert but these are the precautions I take.

Where to Find

Q: Where can I find Old windows and shutters etc for my projects?

A: First see if there is a Re-store in your town. These stores are operated by Habitat for Humanity and take new and used construction supplies in, to raise funds. They have paint, knobs, and lots of other things you might be able to use in projects. It is helpful to go visit your local re-store just to see what inspires you. Beyond that, I find most of my things at garage sales and flea markets, you just have to be willing to spend time looking.


Q: What kind of glue do you use?

I like to use Amazing Goop Glue found at hardware and craft stores. It's great for gluing almost anything to anything and is very strong.

How to cut a spindle in half

A: I've found the easiest way, is with a Band Saw. The table saw is too large for this project and seems a bit dangerous. As Always be careful wear eye protection and keep hands away from the blade. Get help if you need it.

The blade will need to be 1/2" thick at least, and about 15 TPI (teeth per inch), or it won't work real well.

Q: What are your favorite junk decorating books?

A: My favorites are always changing, below is a list of my current favs:

What to do with Gumball machine

I have been searching all over the web for ideas on what to do with a gumball machine. You said on your website you make lamps, but I didn't see a picture of one. Can you give my some ideas. Mine is on the metal stand up base. I thought about a bird feeder, or a bird bath, or maybe even a planter. What do you think?Cherie

Margo's Answer

I made a table/plant stand out of one of mine. I glued (liquid nails) some wood to the top of it and let it dry. When it was dry and fixed I screwed this metal tray onto the wood. It's pretty sturdy. As far as making a lamp, i never did it, but I thought about it. The only hard part would be the wiring, if there is a center hole of some kind, then the wire could just go through there. If not, then you'd have a problem. I've also thought of turning one into a fish tank for a beta or goldfish. Something that didnt' need oxygenation. Maybe even just set a round fish bowl on top of the base of the bubblegum machine it it would fit. Since a fish bowl resembles the glass part of the machine.

What kind of paint or "to poly or not to poly?"

Hi - I really enjoy your website and find it very inspiring. I'm wondering if you put a coat of poly-urethane (or similar product) on each of your creations once you've painted them? Or are a couple of good coats of paints enough protection? Particularly headboard benchesÖ Thanks, Cheryl W.

Margo's Answer

I don't use poly and on the benches I use exterior paint. It wouldn't hurt to poly but I don't see the need. However, if you have something that is very chippy and flaky. A coat or 2 of poly will keep the flakes to a minimum.

What to do with old Mailboxes

Hi! i have been working on making some trash to treasure ideas ive gotten off your site, i will email pictures soon! but i have a question,i have several old mailboxes and was wondering if you have any ideas or pictures of things i can do with them?

Margo's Answer

I've seen one idea where someone stacked them 3 across and 3 high and used it for shoe and mail storage in the mud room. I've also seen one turned on it's end and used as a trash can. check the yard art page to see what Jennifer did with one of her mailboxes after this email.

large spindles into lamps

6/15/07 Rebecca Asks: I look at your stuff often for ideaa. I have an old 4 poster bed that I want to use part of the spindles to make a set of lamps out of. My question is how do I drill the hole for the wire? The spindles that I cut are about 16 inches long. thanks.

Margo's Answer

I've never actually done it, but I know that they make extra long drill bits. You might have to drill part way through from one end and then the other end, making the hole meet in the middle. Sorry That's the best I can do. Go to the home center and ask their tool guy. It's a great project though, Send me a pic of your finished lamps. Margo

Old window table top

topoor2race asks:

Could you tell me if the door/table has glass top or if it is just the window panes? Thanks! and what do you use for legs?

Margo's Answer

2 of the ones I have are made from old widows, individual panes. I have made another that is an old gun cabinet door, It had only one long piece of glass. I added dividers to make it seem as if it's 3 separate pieces and make it look more interesting. This also added some strength underneath so the glass would not fall out.

I use any old spindles or legs I can find.

Smelly suitcases

Nancy Writes
I actually bought two old suitcases ($2 each) yesterday at yard sales just because of seeing the things people did with them on your site. One of them is so musty inside I don't know if I'll ever get the smell out. It has a dark green satiny lining in beautiful condition so I'm afraid to use anything like Febreeze for fear it will stain it. Right now I have a bunch of dryer sheets inside. If you have any tips, I'd love to hear them. Nancy

Margo's Answer
I'd try banking soda sprinkled in there and close the lid for a week or so, then vacuum, then do it again until the weather clears up enough to put them outside.

What to do with old Sewing Machine Cabinets

Peggy Asks

I have come across a good deal on some old sewing machine tables. Wooden, the top flips off to the side and the machine pops up. Any ideas what I can do with them? Thank You, Peggy

Margo's Answer
You are so lucky, I use one as an entry table.

and I recently found this idea on the web from "Salvaged Treasure.com" Web site no longer works.

I'd love to make this project.

Update I made one.

Here's a project for those Sewing machine drawers

good luck, send pictures.

Tipsy Pots

Shirley Asks, about the Tipsy Pots

I love these planters. Do you know how they are made? Is it just one piece of rebar or are there smaller pieces used also? These are so neat. Shirley

Margo's Answer
I've received several requests for instructions on making the tipsy pots. I found a blog with great instructions, read instructions here

Here are some things I look for when I'm out junking

Shutters: You can find old shutters left over from remodels at Garage Sales for a great price. I would not pay more than a couple of dollars for a pair. Many times you can talk people down if they have a large group of them. They donít want to store them and most people arenít looking for them. I have many projects on my shutters page for these items.

Old windows: I have over 20 different window projects on my windows page. The chippier the better. Keep a look out for old windows and pick them up if they are under $10.00 ea. If they have a unique shape, Iíd pay even more.

Spindles: Spindles: any size any shape. Remember spindles can be found in old beds, chairs etc Baby beds are a great source of old spindles. Spindles can be used as table legs, embellishments, etc. Ėsee spindles page.

Old Metal Door hardware: Door plates, Knobs etc. Garage sales are often less expensive than flea markets in regards to these items. They are good as embellishments to other projects. Door knobs can be feet on a box or hooks on a rack on the wall. Glass doorknobs are a great buy at anything below $8.00 for a pair.

Old hats: Hats look great on the wall, or above a wardrobe. Womenís spring hats can have a lot of fun uses. Menís hats make great accents to a masculine themed room. I have a safari hat and a fedora that I truly love in my ďtravelĒ themed room.
What to do with vintage hats

Picture Frames: Wooden picture frames can be expensive. You can get them at Garage Sales for a song. Donít let the color or condition of the wood scare you. Frames are painted up easily. Even displaying empty frames in a group can be a nice look. So pick up those old wooden frames.

Architectural moldings: corbels, Victorian gingerbread, anything you can find. These have a variety of uses, including holding up shelves, Bookends, or just sitting on a shelf. Pick them up if the prices is right. You need to decide if itís a good price though, as it depends on size and condition.

Things not to pass up, if the price is right

Old dressers under $10.00: These can look quite nice with a coat of paint. And they offer great storage. They can be used as buffets, side tables, entry tables, extra kitchen storage, kitchen islands or even as bedroom dressers.

Old mirrors with beveled edges: In Antique stores these can cost over $45.00ea. Pick one up if itís less than this, Iíve gotten several under $25.00 ea. They look good as a grouping on a wall, up a staircase, or in a bathroom.

Other: An item can be more than the sum of itís parts. Perhaps there is a beat up table, but the wood alone may be worth the asking price. Maybe the top is not good, but the legs are in good shape, and could be used in another project.