Category Archives: Recycled/Upcycled

Beer Can Boards: Skateboards Made in America with Recycled Materials

When I was a kid I had a skateboard;  probably the first mode of wheeled transportation I actually owned. Made from pressed wood with a sandpaper surface so your feet wouldn’t slip, it featured the worlds most unforgiving, rock-solid wheels that never seemed to miss a pebble.

Skateboards and longboards have come a long way since those days, both in design and materials. For a company called Beercan Boards the secret to success is using recycled plastic and aluminum cans and making the boards here in America. This small company out of Douglas, GA is trying, in their own words to “take over the world, one skateboarder at a time and we have just gotten started.”

Owner Joel Rawlins was a once-promising skateboarder who, at the age of 15, had a run-in with a car that made him rethink his direction in life.As an adult,  he got into the automotive aftermarket and had success supplying components for classic cars, some of them showing-up in movies like The Fast and Furious. In 2012, the idea struck him that he could use the recyclable aluminum and plastics from his business to fabricate skateboards, and suddenly, he was sharing an old pastime with his kids. There was a lot of work required to design, prototype and refine the boards while trying to maintain his  Made-in-America goal, but the end result was definitely worth it.The great thing about these boards ( besides the cool graphics and the company’s goal to be eco-friendly) is that you can recycle your old board and get a new one for a reasonable fee. If you want a different look, the deck of the board can be swapped out and you have the option to purchase bearings for life.

I wish I was a teenager again!



Old Airplane Parts Become Slick New Furnishings: Made in USA

I’ve written previously about my love of aviation. Since the WWII period, in particular, has always captured my imagination, the Boeing Company has always stood out to me as one of the giants of American aviation.

ConferencetableSo I was pretty excited to stumble upon a site called the Custom Hanger, where vintage Boeing plane parts from various eras have been transformed into incredible furnishings. The table above, for example, was made from 727 airliner parts.
boeingstore_10212015_0067-editMy favorite Boeing plane was the B-17, because my father served on one, and also because it was featured in a great classic movie with Gregory Peck called 12 O’Clock High. Check out this propeller from a B-17, reimagined as a piece of sculpture. This object is literally what pulled the most famous bomber plane of its time through the skies over Europe – and it could be standing next to your desk or favorite lounge Chair!

90fdda4884dc20cccb5bbf6578a6fefb_107f1824-9f60-4c6c-8228-53ce5578a76b_1024x1024When I saw this table featuring a feathering bearing from a B-17  inset in a beautifully grained wood I had no trouble seeing my collection of books and memorabilia laid out it.
dcddde8ea69a81804393367da9160425_1024x1024Another plane that captured my imagination was the B-52, a mainstay of the Strategic Air Command. If you’ve ever seen Dr. Strangelove, you’ve seen actor Slim Pickens at the controls of this very tough plane. The wood-trimmed coffee table above is made from the spinner of the B-52 engine. Boeing also offers a table with metal trim.Flag table

The part of a 727 fuselage that displays the American flag was cut out to create this patriotic table.b8b228b71e964f62a0c454e24ef37d41_1024x1024This is a Martin Baker ejection seat from an F-4 Phantom, one of the premier planes of the Vietnam era. The seat has been decommissioned  so you won’t accidentally fire yourself off through the office ceiling, but I dare you to sit in this and not imagine having to make that tough decision to bail out of your damaged craft.

These items might not be within your budget for this Fathers’ Day, but maybe when you land that bonus check or make that really smart play on the stock market these can yours.



Get Thee To Brooklyn: A Made-in-USA Day-Trip

We’ve seen a big increase in the number of Made in USA items coming out of Brooklyn, NY.  It was clear that, sooner or later, we would have to venture across the Hudson, drive through Manhattan, cross the Brooklyn Bridge and see what’s going on. Here is what we found in DUMBO, an acronym that means “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” (see the photo above).


IMG_4230Our first stop was Trunk,  a shop with the tag line, “Independent Spirit, Locally Made.” The store features the work of its three owners/designers, Aimee Grubel, Radka Osickova and Natasha Somoylenko – plus a few other other featured designers.  The merchandise is fresh and the shop has the kind of fun and quirky vibe you’d hope to find in a Brooklyn boutique.



Next, we walked over to Mark Jupiter’s workshop and showroom ,  a large, garage-like space which opens onto the street on one full wall.


Mark is a fourth generation builder and his father started the shop, but now he’s added his own spin, making furniture from reclaimed wood. These Collage Dressers were created with wood from an old barn, a military facility in upstate New York, and local Brooklyn town houses.Greyed Oak BenchThe wood for this Greyed Oak Bench was originally part of a tobacco barn in Pennsylvania,

IMG_4260Our Next stop was Modern Anthology.

IMG_4254There, we found quite a collection of great guy-stuff, some of it American-made.

IMG_4252Our favorite Made-in-USA item in the shop was this great-looking Waxed-Canvas Roll-up for tool storage.

IMG_4269After a full day of exploring we needed a jolt of caffeine so we hit the Brooklyn Roasting Company for coffee.

IMG_4267There were all sorts of wonderfully shabby little nooks to sit and enjoy your coffee.

almondineI also used this occasion to introduce my wife to an incredible bakery called Almondine.

almondine2I came across it on a long bike ride with some of my buddies a few years back and we’ve since planned several more rides where the route just accidentally on purpose happened to pass Le Almondine just when we needed a rest stop.  Everything we’ve tried was delicious.

There were a few more things we wanted to see but ran out of time:file_9_5The New York Shaving Company carries shaving soaps that are hand-blended in Brooklyn. You can also get a shave and or take a class. Check out the tonsorial menu here.

jobtraining7Recycle a Bicycle not only salvages bikes but gives people skills in bike repair.

3923951_origAccomplished artist Wynn Noble  offers classes for all ranges of aspiring creatives.

Regards, Paul

He Took a Piece of an Old Bowling Alley and Turned It Into a Business

We were bowled over (sorry, just had to…) by the story of how Jim Malone turned a chunk of an old bowling alley into a business called CounterRevolution in NYC.  (Watch the video here.) Here’s a sampling of what comes out of his New York shop: ig330001-2 The Brooklyn Desk is one of the pieces that combines the natural beauty of wood with the gritty, city-feeling of steel. tabletots1_1  Tabletots 2.0 What kid wouldn’t want to share some macaroni and cheese with a friend in this super-cool, child-sized booth? And when the kids get big, it converts to a table! bedsidetable The Lily Bedside Table is both beautiful and functional.

Modern Furniture From Vintage Wood: Made in USA

If you’re one of those people who says they don’t like modern furniture because it’s too “cold” or “sterile,” check this out! These wonderful items use wood reclaimed from century-old razed buildings. They have the clean lines of modern design, AND the warmth of old wood. Regards, Kathy.

zm17100231Vintage Fir Armoire – This gorgeous cabinet is made from reclaimed  Douglas fir and has a hand-rubbed wax patina. No new wood was used to create it.

Chunky Timber Coffee Table – Reclaimed Douglas fir creates the look of six enormous timbers. The weathered wood surface means you might be allowed to pt your feet on it!

17400110N_ZoomLarge1_1Modern Bedside Table – So wonderfully simple and unadorned it could’ve been approved for a Medieval nunnery. Perfection.

zm_fa12_web_vintgefirshelf-Vintage Fir Column Shelving  – This striking architectural shelving unit can stand alone or connect with an optional low shelf for a TV or media center. 32″W x 15″D x 79″H

Vintage Fir Poster Bed – Made of reclaimed vintage fir, this poster bed combines the tradition of the canopy bed with clean, contemporary lines. Looks great with or without a canopy.

zm17400602Platform Bed –  Each plank of reclaimed Douglas fir used in this lovely bed is hand-planed for smoothness. The eight- inch bordering platform on three sides keeps your latest book and your glasses (or whatever!) close at hand.


zm17400113Platform Bedside Table – Next to your platform bed, you’ll want this matching table crafted from the same vintage fir.