USA … Drab to Fab indeed!

USA … Drab to Fab indeed!

My husband (and my kids) hate that I LOVE curbside finds. For a while, Babe had banned me. But with COVID and limited shopping, I think he was feeling a little gracious recently. Sometimes our driveway can look like a wood hoarder lives here. I am not saying that is not a correct statement by all means. However, I do try to only get wood if I absolutely need it these days. You would think now that I am retired, I would have more time for projects. However, that hasn’t actually happened.

I am still trying to stay fit and healthy during my retired years. So on our early morning walk, we came across a few panels of old fence boards. It had been sitting there for weeks and I hadn’t bit at the chance to get it. I had a project in mind to do and I felt like the fence boards would be a good fit to see if my project could be successfully made with the softer cedar boards before I purchased any wood.

I just took one panel since I felt that I could make the project with an 8′ section. I took the panel apart. Most of the boards were put aside to sand. The rest of the boards were moved to my curbside pick up as large trash day was the next morning. I love it that less boards went to the dump. I joke all the time that I can’t keep too many extra curb side finds as Babe will finally decide he is tired of it all and I’ll be served divorce papers after 29 years of marriage. Heck, if it was going to be anything… it would be for that or my love of Facebook Market Place. Those are the two things he tries to ban me from from time to time. It never works.

The part that ended up on my curbside. I did fully cut it down to make it easy for the city employee.

I try to cut off the lower 20″ of fence boards to remove all the pet pee portion and just utilize the top portion. Then it’s off to sand.

Sanding old cedar fence boards creates a mountain of dust which is why I hardly ever do projects from old boards.
and it is definitely why I wear a face mask. I love that this one is washable.
One side turned out like this after sanding. The other side had more red remnants.

I thought reinforcing the cedar boards with just a few boards the other direction would work. But I had to adjust my design because I wasn’t sure the fine jig saw cuts would be stable enough without breaking.

backside of the boards
This picture was taken to where the pattern seems upside down but, you get the point.

It used to be that everyone had a friend who was a teacher and had access to a projector for when you needed to blow an image up. Now they just don’t have a need for them in the schools any more. What do you do when you need a much larger image transferred? Well, I have found a free website that lets you print an image on several sheets of paper to create a template. So now all the wood I saved… I just wasted my green efforts on as a ream of paper had to be used for this project. Well … not quite but almost!

Just print out your image and tape each piece of paper together.

I used the site of Blockposter. It’s a great site that has a free version and you can pay for a premium version. The downside is the free version will only let you print an image to a maximum of 5 sheets wide and I wanted my image wider than 42.5″ wide. The problem was solved easily as the default of the print version is letter and I just printed in landscape. This allowed my template to expand to 57.5 inches.

So it may seem like this project has so far cost me zero dollars and it almost did if I hadn’t broke a jig saw blade. A scroll saw might seem like an easier option but this piece was just so big, it would be hard for me to hold the panel of wood and feed it into the scroll saw blade. Also, I kept having to take breaks as my jig saw would get overheated from the amount of work it had to do. At this point in the project I am 4 hours in. That includes tearing the fence panel apart, sanding all the boards, assembling the panel into one solid sheet, and cutting out the image.

The Great Lakes were my nemesis and kept trying to break off.

Previously, I have done a smaller version of this on a harder repurposed fence board for the mantel at our lake house. However, I wanted this one to be more substantial as the side of the mobile home seen from the street has no curb appeal what so ever. No windows. No decor.

This is my previous version. It was made from repurposed but new pine fence pickets that were given to me. You’d be surprised how many people have a small pile of fence boards in a corner of their yard that were leftovers from their fence install that were never used. The weathered pine boards made this project much easier to complete than the softer cedar boards.

I couldn’t decide between leaving the rustic wood finish and just adding poly or painting it out. This is where Babe steps in. The reason he was so adamant about me picking up my curbside treasure this time is because he envisioned it painted. So since I got my way, I figured he definitely deserved his way.

Stripes are pretty easy to do. Blue painters tape is definitely your friend. Just remember to leave enough drying time before you change to another color of paint.

love the yogurt in the picture as I started fine tuning the stars the first thing I got out of bed. PJ’s, bedhead and ALL!

The hardest part on this piece for me was the stars. I am still not 100% happy with them. When I do USA flags from fire hose for charity, I spend about three days painting and fine tuning all the 50 stars. Since this project is for me and will be mounted higher on the wall than the usual mantel, I am trying to remind myself that the stars do not need to be perfect to get the effect across.

I figured it was better to get an idea of the size of the USA outline piece if I actually held it.

I think one more small attempt at fine tuning the stars and I will be able to add a sealer to the top to preserve it from the inclement weather. I actually like to sand and rustic up most of my designs. Babe prefers it to be unmarked. I figure we will both win this time. I bet the effects of the wind, rain, and sun will probably make it more rustic over time.

So all in, I would say this project cost me less than $15.00. If I hadn’t broke a blade, it could even cost less. I hope you choose to keep some wood out of the dump and try to make this project as well. Don’t forget to email me a picture of your creation when you have it done!

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