Free Green Furniture?

It has never been so easy to build your own green furniture? If you follow these TEN STEPS for obtaining building materails, you will be on your way to building your own sustainable green furniture for free.

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the most common trees and plants used in building rustic furniture. Read this article titled “Trees and Plants for Making Rustic Furniture.” You may find that the most common trees are not available to you. Don't let this concern you. Be creative. Use what is available and abundant as these are the best for sustainable green furniture. Don't be afraid to experiment.

Step 2: Identify the trees and plants that are available in your local area. If you have your own property with trees this should not be a problem, but eventually you will want to spread you branches and experiment with a variety of materials, so start looking around at what is out there.

Explore your local area and observe the trees and vining plants that you see as these will be your primary focus. Try to stay within about a 15-20 mile radius of home for fuel conservation and ease of collection.

If you live near a forest, take a visit. Go on some short hikes and become familiar with the local plant life. You should consider buying a guide book for identifying trees. This will help you to quickly identify trees and plants of interest.

The forest service in your area may also provide small brochures for tree and plant identification. Your local county agricultural extension office may also provide information about native trees in your area.

Step 3: Explore in different seasons. I have found that fall and winter after the leaves have dropped is the best time to get a good look at the woody structure of the trees.

Some areas in the spring will be to wet to access and some in winter will have to much snow pack. Let the seasons dictate to you where you will be doing your exploring and wood collecting.

Step 4: Don't forget about the tree trimming companies. Unstead of going to the dump tree timmings can be used for green furniture. In my area (Kansas) we have a lot of tree trimming companies that are always out and about working for the telephone company or for private contracts trimming and cutting down trees.

Talk with them. Find out where they are working and ask if you can take branches and twigs off of their hands. They will usually look at you a little funny and then give you the okay to take whatever you want.

Step 5: Ask permission to use private property. First and foremost is to be polite and friendly. If you have a young son, daughter, or grandchild take them with you. It is my experience that property owners tend to be a little nicer and more generous when they see children.

Be friendly, but get straight to the point. Tell them that you noticed an over abundance of let's say willow or cottenwood and you were wondering if you could clear some of the branches or sapling trees for them.

Assure them that you will not kill any trees (unless given permission), but would be taking branches and twigs for use in building rustic furniture.

If they seem somewhat hesitant but do not say “NO” outright, offer to build them a piece of furniture in return for letting you take wood. If they say “NO”, thank them for their time and try again with someone else.

I have found the following quote to be true most of the time: "You have not because you ask not.” The worst that can happen is someone says “No.” I personally have had many more say yes than no.

Ask permission to use public property: Around where we live, the road sides have willow, elm, and dogwood that grow like weeds. The county usually has to keep their growth under control, and this "waste" is perfect for green furniture.

County foreman that work the roadsides are very open to letting me help them control the undergrowth while sparing the large trees that control erosion and beautify the roadsides.

We also have a spillway in our area that is huge. One day I saw mowers in tractors working the area. There was a guy in a county truck near by, and so I approached him. After speaking with him for a few minutes, I gained access to many miles of river bottom area where willow trees and saplings are over-abundant. Always be on the look-out for great wood collecting areas.

Most state and national forests have policies that allow some types of wood collection. You will have to speak with the forest services in your area to find out this information.

Be creative and politely aggressive. If you see an area that has an overpopulation of trees or trees that need to be trimmed, just stop and ask.

Step 6: Make sure your wood is fresh cut. If wood has been setting outside for more than two or three days, the bugs and fungus will infest the wood. Protecting your wood from bugs is extremely important.

Step 7: Building green requires that you leave no trace or as little as possible. When removing branches and twigs from trees there will usually be some debris from trimming.

You may find it easier to trim on site in some situations and at your home in others. If given permission to trim on site make sure that you create your trim pile in a location that will keep it from being an eye sore.

If you do not have permission to trim on site, load everything and trim it in your work area at home. I have had to do both and find that either one works just as well.

If you have a long distance to haul the wood, hand trimming on site makes carrying your load much easier.

Step 8: Haul your wood home. You don't even need a truck or trailer to do your hauling, but it makes the job easier. There have been times when I did not have a truck to haul the wood that I would find.

I used my Buick Century with the windows rolled down. In a car, you can haul sticks up to about 6 feet in length with a small portion hanging out the window.

It looks kind of funny with a bunch of sticks hanging out the windows, but your effort and embarrassment will be rewarded after you finish building a beautiful piece of furniture.

If you do have a truck or trailer, hauling wood will be much easier and you will be able to move sticks that are much greater in length.

Very long saplings and branches can be used for building projects like arbors, trellises, and arches. With a truck, saplings up to 20 feet in length can be transported quite easily.

The picture below shows the best way to secure long saplings even in strong winds. It requires the use of two tie down straps.

Step 9: Build or put it up. Once you have your wood home you have two options. Build your green furniture right away or put it up in a dry indoor area like a garage.

Do not leave you wood outside even for one night. If you must leave it outside overnight, leave it in your truck, but do not leave it on the ground. If you do not have a lot of storage space, cut your pieces to size for whatever project you are building and store it until ready to build.

Step 10: Give gifts of thanks. Once you have established relationships with people who are letting you take wood from their property do nice things for them.

Build them a small table or planter stand or maybe occasionally give them some fresh home grown tomatoes as a thank you.

Be generous. They are... You should be too.

With a little patience and determination you should have a variety of sources for building your own green furniture in no time at all.

Happy Building!

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