Everyday Living Tips

Junk To Funk: Some Woman Down The Road Left Me With Hardwood

Share to...

Barrel Planter

Turning junk to funk isn’t a side hustle of mine just yet but I do enjoy putting a little elbow grease into something that practically lands in my lap for free. Although I enjoy saving money in our budget picking up junk and taking it from poo to new it is something I will do as long as it doesn’t cost me a fortune in money and time. You can’t just pick up any old crap, sometimes it’s thrown out for a reason. 

Free Stuff

So as long as I keep finding these freebies, I’ll keep blogging about them especially if it’s saving us money, better yet, making us money. In the past I’ve talked about finding beer cans that my neighbours don’t seem to want to return for the cash. Sure it’s only cents but all us frugal minded and personal finance people know that a few cents can add up to a barrel of money over time. 

I found a particularly crusty looking Lawnmower once, but after replacing a couple of parts it only cost me a few bucks and some time to clean it up and it looked brand, spanking, new again. It sure was worth it considering the comparable newer models runs into the hundreds of dollars at Sears. That is how easy it is to get free stuff and bring it back to life, especially if you have a knack for fixing things.

Last year we were gifted a lovely fig tree and with specific instructions to put it in a half wood barrel. He said, I don’t care if you use a wine barrel or a whiskey barrel just find a barrel and right away. At the time our tiny fig tree was planted in a tall white bucket something you would probably buy bulk paint in.

I didn’t want to leave it in there to start rooting and making friends with the bucket. I wanted to give it a new home in a reasonably priced whiskey or wine barrel or whatever I could get my hands on.

Free Stuff Online

At first I thought I would trawl the free ads on kijiji and freecycle to see if anyone was giving one away. I’m not into the wine barrel construction business but I may take it up as a part-time Cooper when I retire one day. There was absolutely naff all but I was optimistic that I would come up with a solution.

I was sure someone was bound to toss one out sooner or later because they don’t want to take the time and give it the attention it needs to fix it up or even better they are changing their garden decor and no longer want them.

We did our fair share of routing round garage sales during the weekends last summer and came to the conclusion that there’s nothing out there unless it’s falling apart or over priced. Looking online today one year later I see that people are selling used half wine or whiskey barrel planters for a reasonable price comparable to new.

Some places to buy a full barrel can run you into the hundreds of dollars. I’m talking, brand new with nothing ever in it. You may even find you pay a bit more or less depending on what was in the barrel and how seasoned it is. As you can see a used half oak barrel might run someone $25 but I found that on the low-end compared to others I had seen last year.

Sometimes people just don’t know what they have and what it’s worth is so they sell it low just to get rid of it. I’ve got plenty of items around the house I’ve picked up that way as well.

Here are some ads I found online for hardwood barrels:

  • Hardwood Barrels for sale; new, but artificially aged.  Large (150 gal.) $75.00  Medium (75 gal.) $40.00
  • Used Half Oak Planter Barrel $25
  • A shop Located in Sydenham, north of Kingston are selling hardwood barrels for the following prices
  • $65 per half unstained
    $75 per stained half
    $130 per unstained full barrel
    $150 per stained full barrel

The other day my wife nearly attacked me before I could get through the front door (not that I’d be complaining) but it wasn’t out of lust and love for me it was for a bloody barrel she noticed outside of our neighbours house. Typical that is, we bought a Disney Barrel (Plastic) last year because we couldn’t find a real one and then find one for free, that’s sods law that is.

That’s right we bought a plastic barrel planter for our fig tree just so we could get it out of the plastic bucket. We couldn’t bring ourselves to pay the high prices the shops were asking for half wood barrels just for our little fig tree. Just for the record the plastic barrel is holding our fig tree just fine but having the real hardwood barrel effect would have been optimistic although it does look like the real deal (from a distance). 

That evening the wife was throwing a bit of a wobbler because she didn’t want me to miss out on a bargain hardwood barrel that some woman down the street left out on the curb. Those barrels aren’t super heavy but they are bloody awkward to carry, especially when the previous owner fails to empty it. I wheeled my dolly down the road loaded it up and returned home with my spoils.

Turning Junk To Funk

So, we make it home all happy in our pants knowing that the free barrel that once was our neighbours junk was now our pride and joy. The next day I went into the garage and got down to business cleaning all the crap out of the half barrel. It was fairly wet and the metal hoops were falling off. Clearly I could see why someone would toss it out if they had no intention of repairing it. The sad part was, it didn’t take much to give a new lease on life.

Once the barrel was dry I used a ratcheting load strap to hold the barrel together while I hammered the metal hoops back into position. Once I had them in place I was good to go and removed the strap. I have plenty of sand paper so I sanded the entire barrel down which took me about 30 minutes to do so it was smooth and no rough edges. The barrel was already coming to life but all I needed to do was spray paint the rings black and stain the outside of the barrel.

Mr.CBB's Junk to Funk Barrel

Off to Canadian Tire I went and picked up a small can of  chestnut stain for $8.49 and I know that sounds like a bit but there is plenty left for other projects. While I was at Canadian Tire I also picked up a can of black spray paint for $2.99 and away I went with my materials which cost me $12.97 with tax.

Judging by the online ad posted above a fully stained half barrel would run me at least $75.00 to purchase. I have to spray our urn planters black again so the left over spray paint will be more than enough to do part of that job.

Mr.CBB's Junk to funk barrel 2

Taping off the barrel with newspaper around the wood allowed me to spray paint the metal hoops black without over spraying on to the hardwood. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so even if it takes me a bit longer, I’ll make sure I do it right. Once the hoops were dry I removed the tape and the newspaper and got to work with the staining.

Staining the barrel took hardly any effort or time at all and I had that done in about 15 minutes. My wife was impressed with the end result as am I especially since it only took me about an hour of my time and a few bucks of paint and stain to bring it back to life. The barrel now looks relatively new and although we won’t be putting our fig tree inside we will likely fill it with an assortment of flowers and keep it displayed proudly outside of our home with a sign, “Our Neighbours Junk”.

Ha-ha, not really but it’s just one of those things that saved us some money in our budget and without hardly any effort at all. To some people they may view a project as too much work, or they don’t know how to finish the project so getting rid of it is the easiest way out.

I thank all you lovely people that are like my neighbours and because of you I will continue to save money and make the neighbours think I’m keeping up with the Joneses when all I’m doing is keeping up with turning their junk into funk.

What have you found for free and gave a new lease on life?

Quote-Budget and Money

  • Are you NEW to Canadian Budget Binder?
  • Follow Mr.CBB on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest
  • Do You Have A Question For Mr. CBB? The best way to get in touch with me is on Facebook

Share to...

Similar Posts


  1. Nicely done, Mr CBB! My grandfather was always rescuing projects from the dumpsters that he would bring back to his workshop for us kids to work on fixing with him. I think it’s a big part of why I am the way I am to this day =)

    1. That’s how my dad was and likely why I am the way I am. If we ever have kids I’ll be sure to make memories with them as well. They can chose to carry them or remember them but at least they get to see what I’m all about. Cheers mate

  2. “The other day my wife nearly attacked me before I could get through the front door (not that I’d be complaining) but it wasn’t out of lust and love for me it was for a bloody barrel she noticed outside of our neighbours house.” LOL! What are the odds that they would have a barrel? You are incredibly handy, and if you’re ever in the LA area I have some stuff I need fixing around my house. 🙂 I can’t say I’ve found anything that’s changed my life…but maybe I’m not looking hard enough? 🙂

  3. Sounds awesome Mr. CBB. Nothing like making a little money with your other peoples junk. I’ve never done this personally, but I know people who have and it always amazes me how they can turn something worthless into something valuable.

  4. You can end up getting some great bargains when people just want to get rid of stuff. My parents are trying to clean out my grandparents house so they can sell it and they have been practically giving away most of the stuff. I keep telling them they could be making money on it, but they don’t seem interested.

  5. I can’t remember anything I’ve found for free, but I’ve scored some great deals at yard sales. I found a collector bike jersey that I sold on Ebay for a nice profit. I also got my bathroom rugs at a sale last year. They are really nice and would have been probably $40 new. Lots of stuff is just junk, but if you have a good eye, you can find some treasures. I could actually get hooked on flipping garage sale items. I’m afraid it would be too consuming, so I don’t go often. I would love a nice whiskey barrel like that. I’ll have to keep my eyes open.

  6. Nice work Mr. CBB! I always love the challenge of restoring. I got a “broken” weed trimmer that my father couldn’t get to work and decided to try my hand at it. It took a few things, but got it working just fine.

  7. That barrel looks mighty fine!!!A suggestion here???…. Use your drill and a 1/4 inch bit and drill a few more drainage holes in the bottom, it looks like there is just the one big hole. I have 2 fibre glass planters that I filled the bottom with scraps of left over styrofoam, cut a couple of big round pieces to place on top and then filled with soil….. keeps things light enough that I can lift it to move as needed. Plus it helps with drainage. I have a planter stand that, I’m guessing my grandfather made back when I got from m parents that I sanded and painted with a faux marble finish then coated with latex urathane….. I have a sea sponge that I refuse to part with that I used and some bottles of craft paint. A quick sanding, a couple of base coats in grey and sponge it with two shades of rosey pink and a little white, urathane and let dry….. It looks very nice. My Dad couldn’t figure out why I wanted “that damn ugly thing”…..I did the same effect on a dry sink from their place years ago but in greens with a black base coat……Super easy….. and very hard to mess up, even if you think you did it’s only paint, you can go over it again. I have even sponged the powder room/ laundry room here to look like tile. The base coat is white there and I spent hours putting on 1/4inch painters tape to get the look of grout, sponge over it and pull the tape…..I’ve had people actually have to touch it to realize it’s not tile!!!

    1. Thanks for the tips Christine. Yes it has only one big hole in the bottom. I added more holes to the plastic one that I bought so I’ll likely do the same with this once I figure out what I’m putting in it. It was great fun putting it all together and dead easy. How is your garden coming along? Ours is popping up all over the place. My seedlings are all doing very well.

  8. I am so limited for work space now that I have little room for the refurbishing projects that used to occupy my hobby time. I’ve re-made, re-vamped, and sold a lot of items over the years though. The projects gave me pleasure while I was working on them, and a few extra bucks is always nice too. Things I still do? Right now I’m working on a project made from “plarn” (plastic bag yarn made from single use grocery bags) which I hope to post on one of my blogs soon. I often remake thrift shop clothing – sometimes for our own use and sometimes for sale – and I make a lot of different things from thrift shop linens. I use paper scrap to make cards and containers. I use papier mache to use up paper that would otherwise end up in the recycling bin and get lovely new containers, furniture and giftware as a result of my efforts. There’s always some way to make good use out of “found’ materials and the finished products are so much more interesting and original than store bought.

  9. I wouldn’t say found – but I am very good at being given chairs, tables etc people no longer want! 🙂

  10. Hey Mr. CBB
    Very cool! If I ever have to live in a post-apocalyptic world, I definitely want to be around you. You’re one of those guys that could build a strip mall out of some balers twine and duct tape in the middle of the jungle!

  11. Good work! Have a yard sale, the same neighbour may buy it back from you. Charge them $75 haha. They may not know it was theirs before.

  12. Wow – you did a great job fixing up your neighbor’s so-called junk! It will look great filled with flowers. I unfortunately do not have a green thumb nor great DIY skills. 🙁 So many people can do miraculous things with the stuff people throw out and I’m always envious of their skills that I sadly lack myself.

  13. This is absolutely righteous. my neighbors are all college kids like myself so when they throw something out, its usually broken beyond recognition and covered in puke from the weekend before so I wouldn’t ever try and repair anything from them, but I love the thought of giving something a second chance.

  14. In road construction, we find all sorts of things on the side of the road. After returning to our current project from a winter hiatus, we filled 2 large trash bags with crushed soda and beer cans. The flannel jacket I was wearing this morning was laying on the sidewalk last spring. I just needed a patch and a few new buttons. One of my supervisors has calculated that he has made over $2000 selling stuff he found on the side of the road at work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.