- Associated Press - Sunday, August 21, 2016

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) - When she views a pile of wood, Cindy Hayes of Kearney sees through the splinters, rough edges and grime and imagines the potential.

She told the Kearney Hub (https://bit.ly/2byQ78z ) that she then turns the wood into a functional piece of art.

“I fell in love with some of the pallet projects on Pinterest and decided to try it. It doesn’t hurt to try. What do you have to lose?” Hayes said. After putting in a day at the office as the associate director of Student Health at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, she trades her stethoscope and scrubs for her favorite pair of dusty jeans and circular saw.

Hayes spends her evenings and weekends turning reclaimed wood and old pallets into furniture and wall decor. She said she researched several ideas and styles of Pinterest projects before digging through piles of wood at the landfill.

“It was pretty funny to have long planks of wood sticking out the back of my Chevy Impala with an orange flag sticking up,” she said. “Before that, I probably Googled, screen shotted and pinned 8 million hours worth of ideas, instructions, how-tos and furniture that I liked,” she said.



Her first project was an entertainment stand.

“What I’ve made was dictated by what I found in the woodpile,” she said.

The next project was a large piece of wall art shaded with hues of blue, golden yellow and brown, and white. The result was a large decorative daisy hanging on her wall made from reclaimed wood from the Dumpster pile.

“I didn’t think I had any artistic talent. I couldn’t have painted my way out of a paper bag. But my father did teach me to work with my hands. He taught me the value of craftsmanship, how to use tools and build things. I just never tried it on my own until now,” she said.

As she posted her latest projects on Facebook, friends and family began requesting wall decor of daisies, pansies and cherry blossoms. The comments and encouragement helped Hayes decide to tackle bigger projects for her living room, kitchen and patio.

“I wanted my home to look more professional and refined. I didn’t want furniture made from pressed particle board,” she said.

She wanted solid, beautiful furniture similar to The Pottery Barn or other stores but without the price tag. So, she built the entertainment stand, and she built end tables, a desk, a headboard for her 14-year-old daughter Ciara’s bedroom and built outdoor benches.

Her most recent project is one she is most proud of, her kitchen table made of various colors and sizes of pallet wood.

“I made that table comparable to the quality of what I would find at a Pottery Barn, but I made it for less than $25 and eight hours of invested time,” she said.

The table reveals the beauty of each strip of wood. Some darker hues are matched in length to lighter pieces, Hayes said. She then used light-colored screws to hold each piece in place.

“I never knew I had this kind of talent. I’m a logical thinker, it’s a total God thing to be this creative,” she said.

Hayes recommends anyone interested in creating furnitures or art from reclaimed wood and pallets should know what kind of wood to look for.

“Pallets are nearly impossible to take apart without damaging the wood, so I look for pallet pieces with letters HT, meaning they’ve been heat treated instead of oil treated. This is the kind of wood you want to pick up,” she said. She’s learned oil-treated pallets are messy, harder to cut and even harder to sand and stain.

She also recommends purchasing a circular saw, power drill and sander. “You don’t necessarily need these items, but they are pretty handy and make projects easier. I had a neighbor kind enough to lend me a power sander until I bought my own,” she said.

Other tips Hayes offers include research. “No matter what idea you have in mind, research it throughly before getting into the nitty gritty of it,” she said.

She said she learned the hard way about using nails versus screws. “Nails are definitely not recommended, it splits the wood. It’s best to use screws and it’s even better to pre-drill the holes,” she said.

The biggest piece of advice Hayes offered is to embrace the imperfections of each project, including uneven boards, shelves not being the exact size on her entertainment stand and misshaped petals of her flower wall decor.

“There’s parts of each project I don’t like, but that’s because I expected perfection. Forget perfection, it’s the imperfection that makes the each project unique,” she said.

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Information from: Kearney Hub, https://www.kearneyhub.com/

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