22 November, 2011

Reclaiming and Recycling: Wood from our School's Forest

Our school playground backs up to a large wooded area which leads down to a creek.  Isn't that fabulous?  (We are working on plans to de-poison ivy as much of the area as we can so that we can spend much more time out there. The planning is very exciting, and I hope to blog about it more extensively soon.)

In the meantime however, I have spent some time after school tramping around the woods. On one of those tramps I found a gem, hidden amongst the wet and soggy leaves.  I wish I had photographed it "before," but I didn't - so you'll just have to accept my written description.  It was a piece of an old tree that was hollow in the middle.  I was particularly intrigued by the holes in the sides.  They seemed to me to be perfect "windows."  So I picked up the piece of wood, and brought it home.

Inside the reclaimed wood piece

I washed it out thoroughly in the bathtub, removing lots of dead leaves, dirt, rotted wood bits, and ants -  oh so many ants!  Then I dried it out in a low temperature oven (with the oven door slightly open so I could check on it often) for about thirty minutes.  Later on in the day, I began working on the wood with my dremel tool.  I sanded and sanded and sanded . . . and sanded.  Then I sanded more the next day, removing loose bark, bits of left over rotted wood, and bits of embedded dirt.  I then sanded it by hand for a long time!  It was hard work, but it was so rewarding so see such a gorgeous piece of wood emerge from that work!  I polished the wood with my handmade wood polish, added a moss colored needle felted roof, and voila!

Don't you just love the windows?

I'm writing a story about a little tree sprite who lives in the hollow of an old oak tree, and this seemed to be just the home for her.  What do you think?

I wonder what other treasures are hiding in the woods behind our school?  


  1. Cool, a real find. cheers Marie

  2. That is absolutely gorgeous. Could you share your recipe for homemade wood polish?

  3. Wonderful, just wonderful! I would love to have your skills. I feel like writing a story about this branch.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Amazing, Karen! And - amazing Karen!

  5. Wow, this is incredible! I have shared this on our Facebook page so other teachers can see.

    Our program (LEAF- Wisconsin's K-12 Forestry Education Program: https://uwsp.edu/cnr/leaf ) is working on a school grounds web site to help schools and teachers get their outdoor classrooms set up and usable.

    Great work!

  6. Thank you, everyone! And Dan, I will definitely check out your web site. I need all the help I can get! : )

  7. Nice Idea of using reclaimed and recycled hardwood. A sustainable choice to add unique and authentic wood materials to furnitures, floors, counters, cabinets, everything and I love the idea of using reclaimed woods.
    Check out those resources http://agedwoods.com/

  8. Love this! Thanks so much for the info about how you did it. I can't wait to track down my own. :-)

  9. What a beautiful tree; you did an amazing job! This would make the perfect birthday present for our little girl. We will definitely be going on a tree hunt this weekend! I hope we are as lucky as you were :)

  10. Wonderful. Good idea to use the drummer first.

  11. Wonderful. Good idea to use the dremmel first.


Thank you for your comments. They are always much appreciated. : )