A unique way to make outdoor art.
By Charlie Thigpen
Photography by Lindsey Griffin
A collection of old, forgotten tools can be given new life and turned into art for your landscape, porch, deck, or shed. Create a one-of-a-kind tool trophy or badge using recycled garden implements, old pots, and even watering pails. Don’t throw away those treasures that have been neglected and stored in your shed or garage. The rustier the better, and if they’re broken, it just gives them character. Fasten them together and construct a work of art that you’ll be proud to display.
Where to Hunt
If you don’t have any old tools, they’re pretty easy to find. Look for them at garage or estate sales, flea markets, thrift shops, and antique stores. Old tools are usually pretty inexpensive depending on their age and wear, so don’t pay too much.
First, choose the tools you intend to use. Then lay them on the ground to create a pattern, size, or look that appeals to you. It will be hard to lie out the tools symmetrically since they come in so many different shapes and sizes, but try to keep it balanced. Then photograph the layout so you can review while constructing.
How to Assemble
Begin attaching tools to one another using screws, starting with the bottom tools. You might want to drill pilot holes in the tool handles to prevent the wood from splitting. You can use zip ties to hold the tools in place while assembling. If the tools are solid metal and you can’t use screws, you can use zip ties or baling wire to fasten them together. You can go back and cover any of the exposed zip ties or screw heads with baling wire or rope.
Recently, a customer came in and saw one of our tool trophies displayed and asked if we could make one using her father’s old tools. We happily obliged and now it is proudly hung on her potting shed. So, whether the tools come from a loved one or not, this is a way of preserving nostalgia and creating a piece of art from a gone-by era.