The fence in my back yard was already half collapsed when I bought my house last year. I figured I'd take care of it eventually, but this winter when a wind storm came through it went from one section already on the ground with two more halfway there to four sections (around thirty feet) down.
There were lots of old rusty nails sticking out all over the place in a spot right next to my daughter's playground, so I decided I'd better do something about that. Without a truck readily available, I decided I'd just remove all the nails from the lumber and make a pile of it somewhere until I had an opportunity to take it down to the wood recycling place.
As I was pounding nails out of boards, I realized that a lot of the pickets, posts and stringers, while not in great shape at the top or bottom, were in relatively good condition for most of their lengths. After disassembling a couple of sections of fence I had a pretty good pile of cedar that, while not any good for building furniture or houses out of or anything like that, were still solid enough that the idea of just sending them away to be chipped and mulched kind of grated on me.
My mind began to churn, what could I build out of all that still perfectly serviceable wood? I later on decided I'd rebuild that entire fence and pulled down even more boards, until the pile got really big. I settled on structures for my garden, and this instructable was born!
Step 1: Get some old wood
Old beat up lumber is actually very easy to find. As I mentioned, I got most of mine from the old fence in my back yard, but I sourced some 2x6's from a couple of other places. My dad had several redwood 2x6's from an old barn (I think) that he offered to bring me. Also, a coworker had torn down part of his house to make way for new construction, so I spent a profitable morning with a sledge hammer pounding fir 2x6's out of what used to be his roof. I thought if I needed more lumber I might use pallets or even put up an ad on craigslist offering to remove someone's old fence in exchange for the boards, but those sources weren't needed this time. I've still got plenty of wood in the pile next to my shed!
In addition to the wood you'll need:
Woodworking tools (tablesaw, circular saw, drill, etc)
Hammer (and an anvil if you have one)
Eye and ear protection
You'll most likely need some wood glue and maybe some more nails, but you'll get a lot of those from the next step.