A few weeks ago Groupon offered a deal for the ReBuilding Exchange, which was new to me. I don’t know how I had never come across it before now. In addition to an awesome salvaged goods shop, they offer workshops and job training, all with the goal of keeping usable materials out of landfills.
Chicago folks: It’s located at 2160 N. Ashland. The entrance is on Webster – drive through the gate to the back of the building, where there is a parking lot. The shop’s inventory is great and reasonably priced. I took a few pictures to give you an idea of what’s in store; you can also check out their Flickr photostream.
Furniture made from reclaimed wood:
Hundreds of doors and windows.
Giant popcorn machine!
Dozens of sinks.
Not pictured: lots of wood, leather, cabinets, chalkboards, radiators, fireplace mantels, hardware, light fixtures, mirrors and more.
The Groupon was for the Make-It/Take-It workshop series, which “gives beginning students a hands-on approach to building. The goal of the workshop series is to share simple building techniques that produce functional furniture.” I signed up the Rustic Mirror workshop, taught by Blake Sloane. I had previously taken a Woodworking 101 course through Woodsmyths Woodworking (not recommended: an instructive but hostile class experience), so I’m not quite a beginner, yet I found the class informative and fun. I hadn’t used a chop saw for mitered corners before and I learned some new terms like “rabbit.” It was very laid back – we were able to move at own pace. We were their first Groupon group and the staff seemed excited to have us there, which was a nice change from using Groupons in restaurants and feeling loathed.
The wood used for the project was salvaged from a south side public school tear-down – it was a gym floor.
The ReBuilding Exchange sold no fewer than one million Groupons, so I assume the one-day workshops are booked full for a while, but I recommend taking one if you’re looking for an introductory experience. They also offer multi-week courses and even some free classes. I’ll be taking a Demystifying Wood Finishing Techniques course in February, after which I will tackle our dining table.