Barn Cleanup + The 100% Repurposed-Material Workbench

When you get in a fender bender with an errant deer and your car is in the shop for a week, leaving you stuck on the farm in an area where there are no forms of public transport to swoop you away if you need an escape?

The organization bug hits you hard.

With our contractors here finishing up their last bits of the master bathroom build (big reveal coming soon – husband and I are still doing our finishing touches before we use it ourselves!), and 3 major gigs just completed with a client, I needed to keep busy and take advantage of the mild fall weather and ORGANIZE!

Fifteen months and change into moving out to the farm, we’ve not been able to figure out what stuff should go in the barn vs garage. Initially we thought we’d do all our woodworking in the garage, but over this time have realized that the scrap wood which had to stay in the barn (due to size) and shlepping back and forth was a real pain in the arse! Plus in the barn we could let things get dusty and in the garage, where we’ve started to do a bit more “meat stuff” (like using the old fridge as a chiller for the birds we recently butchered, before they could go into the freezer), that wasn’t going to work. And we realized on yucky days we could – gasp! – put our CAR in the garage. What a concept.

So after the chooks were fully processed, their ‘death row stall’ had been cleaned out and the barn had aired out, it really looked like a disaster zone in there. And with that, my plans for my next few DIY furniture projects were not going to happen til things got cleaned up. As I told my husband, this would probably be the only time we’d ever clean it, so let’s do it right. We decided if it’s for the ‘farm’ side of things, or if we wanted to do ‘shop’ things, it’d go in barn.

I so wish I’d taken ‘before’ pictures, y’all.

The barn fortunately has an ‘office’ of sorts (strangely it did not appear to be previously used as a tack room even though the former owner had horses – she kept her saddle in the laundry room – but that would be reasonable to convert into one if we had horses) so first I just bugged my husband to be my second set of hands and install some upper shelves out of some old particleboard that’d been in there since before our time, so I could focus on getting our beekeeping stuff in reasonable order (and move the upper boxes that are taken off in the winter out of the way!), as well as get other tools hung on the walls, the chainsaw stuff all in one area, get the leftover bits of hardware cloth, chicken wire, etc. reined in (amen for bungee cords), and wipe down the makeshift ‘counter’ that was in there for the first time in I’m guessing a decade…

Not Pinterest-worthy but I just wanted to show there are easy ways to use existing/found items to repurpose into organizational semi-bliss in barns and garages. Occasionally watch an episode of Hoarders on Hulu and you’ll see what keeps me motivated to constantly keep things easy to manage and locate. 🙂

And when husband then hopped on his bike into town to go to work?  I kept on going. We had talked about how nice it would be for him to have a work bench out there for various projects (Okay it’s really for both of us because we split the carpentry work 50/50. Example: I built our reclaimed wood kitchen island and base cabinets, he came in and did the finesse work of connecting the tops to both) and how it’d be so great to just use up this one humongous piece of old plywood as a top (one that would be useless for just about anything else), and with that, like a lot of DIY projects, I took advantage of the momentum I had going on in the barn and within a few hours, voila!

Sexy? Not to the outsider, perhaps.

Functional? Heck yeah.

And even better? Made from 100% reclaimed wood we had right here in the barn.

Starting with the 3’x8′ piece of old plywood that we found in the barn used for the top, to the entire frame built from the last remaining pieces of wood from the old second story deck (the vast majority were already repurposed late last year to build our nine 4’x12′ raised beds in the garden), to the shelves made from scrap plywood and 2x10s for the lower shelves (that, amazingly, did not need to even be cut), and oodles of 3″ decking screws I had in a jar in the garage, I was seriously stoked to be able to put this together and surprise my husband when he came home from work last night!

And yeah, I had to toss up a few scrappy looking shelves for miscellaneous things that might come up. Future plans will include having a bump-up of sorts so that super long pieces for mitering can rest easily (that’s what I get for not building a cut-out in the middle to make the miter saw’s surface flush with the bench…but I didn’t trust that level of complexity in my DIY skills for that type of thing either, hahaha…) , along with attaching the super heavy vise that used to belong to my step-dad, then of course figuring out what else from the garage needs to come out here (a delicate balance as you want to always have a lot of basics close to home base as well…). The other bonus is, those 16-20′ leftovers from the upper deck are now used and not taking up space awkwardly 🙂

I must say, we were blessed to buy a farmhouse with a fully electrified barn, and grateful we made the wise decision at purchase to have an ‘electrical audit’ of sorts after move-in to have everything brought up to code as well. And yeah, husband was pretty excited that we finally found a place for the Cramps tapestry he painted way back in high school!  Who knows, my old band posters still rolled up in the back closet might also find their way into our li’l rock ‘n’ roll barn…

And yeah, someday there might be animals shacking up in it but in the meantime? Big happy sigh for organizational bliss 🙂



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