Wall Street Journal on How Sewage Water Might Make Good Beer

March 12 | 2015

"The railing at the front of the ReBuilding Center in Portland, Ore., is made of repurposed metals, including old tools and parts of machinery. Members of the city’s ‘master recycler’ course visited the center, which accepts donations of used building and remodeling materials." Photo: Amanda Lucier for The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal cites us as a part of an innovative group of recyclers in NW.

Read the article here >

Stepping Stones Garden

What can you do with a lot of scrap tiles ?

Marjorie Taylor loves to collect them. So when she stopped by the Rebuilding Center and checked out with her handful of awesome scrap tiles, she talked to our cashier Ella Rose about the stepping stones she makes with all of the tiles she collects.
Ella Rose’s interest in her crafty project encouraged her to finally complete an instruction guide.  
She hopes this instructions will be helpful and that other people might make some interesting yard art with fun tiles! 

We can now find it in our Creative Reuse Library here :
Stepping Stones instructions

As Marjorie says "I like to garden, but I don’t like to step in the dirt" :)

How to Make Stepping Stones

Hey!  Where are you going with all that tile?? 

Hey!  Where are you going with all that tile?? 

Glass, ceramic, terra cotta, terrazzo samples, metal, or other found objects will look great in concrete stepping stones and most can withstand the weather for quite some time. 

Project Difficulty: Moderate

Material Needed, to make 15 stones:

  • Concrete - 80lb Crack Resistant Quickcrete
  • Pam spray
  • Water – about a gallon
  • Tiles – prearranged in your pattern

Equipment Required:

  • Mixing bucket - 5 gallon
  • Stepping Stone forms – 10” houseplant dishes
  • Gloves
  • Paper Towels
  • Trowels

Very fun instructions thanks to Marjorie:

To make five 10” stepping stones, use about 27 “cups” of dry Quickcrete.  

Always use gloves when concrete is dry or wet and be careful to not breathe the concrete dust!

Think like a concrete truck and tip your bucket on its side when you’re adding water.

Add one “cup” of water at a time – aim for the bottom of the dry concrete - stir the mix slowly and in upward motions.  
Be careful to not add too much water. 

This recipe, for five 10” stones, calls for about 27 “cups” of concrete to 5 “cups” of water. 


Concrete ready to add to the forms.  

If the mix is too wet, add a little more dry concrete.  If it is too dry, add a little more water.  

Too wet, and your decorations might sink into the concrete more than you hoped for.  Also, your stone will take a day or so longer to cure.

Too dry, and the concrete will be harder to add decorations to.  

Spray your stepping stone forms with a light coat of Pam cooking spray (or something similar).  This will help the form release from the stone in a few days.

Add about four or five heaping scoops of concrete to each form.  
Divide as evenly as possible between your forms, but consider that thicker tiles and items will displace more concrete in the form.  


Smooth the pile of wet concrete – kind of like spreading peanut butter on toast.

It doesn’t have to be smooth as glass, just generally flat and even around the edges.  

You might see bubbles and little pools of water.  That’s ok.
Before you add decorations to the wet concrete, you might want to take a few minutes to rinse your mixing bucket. 
This short break allows the concrete to start setting up.  

Time to add decorations!
Start with bigger items, or those that will be in the middle.  
Set them gently on the surface of the smooth concrete.
With your gloved hand(s), press down firmly but gently.  Shake the dish a little as you’re pressing down. 

Shaking the dish makes the concrete act like quicksand and tiles will sink in a little easier.  
If you shake the dish, you’ll see a little more water rise to the surface too.  That’s ok.

More decorations…
Start by placing center items first and work your way out.  
Like the bigger items, gently press the items into the concrete and shake the dish at the same time.



Now it’s ready to dry.
You might see water pooling around some of the tiles.  That’s ok.  It will evaporate over the next few days and you’ll be able to rinse the “scum” off later.  

If the water seems really excessive, or it might overflow your form, gently use the paper towels to wick away the water

Wet stepping stones ready to dry in place for a few days.  
In a couple of days, you can wipe off fingerprints or scum left over from little pools of water. 


Dry stepping stones ready to cure!
After about four days of undisturbed drying time, remove the stones from the forms.

Cure stepping stones for about two weeks.  
Although the concrete is dry when you remove the form, the stones need about two weeks to cure and harden thoroughly before you can step on them or place them in the yard.  
Consider curing them on a tarp or garbage bag. 
Enjoy your stepping stones!

Here is an example of what how stones look in a winter yard. 
They add some colorful interest and weather nicely over time.  

Submitted by:
Marjorie Taylor, in Portland, OR

May 31: National Macaroon Day DeNailing

May 31st is National Macaroon Day! Help us celebrate the magic of this European delicacy while de-nailing lumber.

Team up with other volunteers to salvage reusable lumber on Saturday, May 31st. The event will kick off with a small information session and then we’ll get down to business.

Coffee and macaroons will be available!

Click here to register for the event!

See this event on Facebook.

We will meet at our storage lot at 751 N. Cook St (behind Grand Central Bakery on Fremont).

The lot is just a couple streets over from The ReBuilding Center warehouse.

Saturday, May 31
11am to 3pm

TRC Storage Lot
751 N. Cook St
Portland, OR 97227

The lumber you’ll be working with comes from DeConstruction Services, which offers an affordable and sustainable alternative to conventional demolition. Working by hand, our crews salvage up to 85% of a building’s major components for reuse.

DeConstruction of an average 2000 sq ft house:
• Preserves 2,400 gallons of clean water
• Saves 33 mature trees
• Provides 907 additional hours of work at a living wage
• Reduces greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 2.9 cars off the road for a year

Learn more about DeConstruction, or watch a DeConstruction time lapse.

In addition, the sale of donated items supports the Community Legacy Program - a free resource for sharing community-building stories, strategies and ideas.

Learn more about Community Legacy.

Creative Commons photo by mkream.

May 17: Living Legacy Story - Chinelos Dancers

Join us for this dynamic and vibrant event featuring, Orgullo Morelense Cemiac, a Chinelos dance group on Saturday, May 17th from 1-3pm.

Chinelos are the best-known Carnival dancers in Mexico and are easily recognizable with their elaborate costumes and distinctive jump-like dance. The Chinelos group, Orgullo Morelense Cemiac, was started in Portland, OR in 2009 by Alex Arenales as a way to teach his children about the customs and traditions of his hometown of Morelos, Mexico. Alex and his Chinelos Dancers enliven and build community in Portland through their vibrant cultural sharing.

This event will include a viewing of the colorful, intricate costumes at 1pm, as well as a live performance at 2pm.

The performance will take place at the Community Trees area at The ReBuilding Center, 3625 N. Mississippi Ave. Everyone is invited to this free community event.

This event is hosted by the Community Legacy Program of Our United Villages, a free resource for sharing community-building stories, strategies and ideas.

Saturday, May 17
1pm to 3pm

The ReBuilding Center
3625 N. Mississippi Ave
Portland, OR 97227

Herb Planter Box

Dave likes to use the materials that help give a sense of history to the projects that he does.
This project was for gifts and the people receiving them also appreciated that reused materials were utilized.

Project Difficulty: Difficult

Materials Needed:
Recycled 2x4’s
Heat register vent cover
Fiberglass resin and cloth
Waterproof wood glue
Small vinyl bumpers (4)
Possibly wood filler and/or caulk

Equipment Required:
Table saw
Miter saw
Clamps (straight and band)

Use a recycled 2x4 about 8 feet long that has been confirmed to not to contain nails or other non-wood materials.

Step 1:
Choose a heating register that is what you want to use (I avoid painted ones to avoid potential lead paint).
Check the back of the register to confirm that around the outside edge there is at least an inch between the inside lip edge and the outside lip.
Make sure material 7/8 inch in thickness will fit easily in this space. This gives space for the box you are going to build.

Step 2:
Remove the damper from the register.
Cut the 2x4 in half in the 4 inch direction on either a table saw to give 2 pieces that are approximately 11/16 inch by 3-1/2 inches.
This also gives another opportunity to inspect for nails or other foreign materials. Safety first!

Step 3:
Trim about 1/8 of an inch both sides of the 3-1/2 inch boards. This should give 2 boards that are about 3-1/4 inch wide boards.
These can now be planed to about 9/16 of an inch thick (both boards the same thickness).
These are going to be glued with waterproof glue to give a board that is about 6-1/2 inch wide and this thickness you have made. These can now be sanded smooth.
Measure the length of the inner edges of the heat register and add 1/4 of an inch to these dimensions. Miter cut the boards.

Step 4:
Now it is needed to make the bottom of the box. Using the excess from the boards that were glued together earlier you will need to likely glue two of the boards together to make a board larger than the bottom of the box.
There should now be 4 pieces that will form a rectangular box. Using a band clamp these can be put together as a dry fit to make sure that the box will fit under the register to test the fit.
Adjustments can be made at this point if needed to make the box fit to the register.

Step 5:
Dry fit the box and use this to mark the bottom piece. After marking the bottom it can be trimmed to fit tightly in the bottom of the box.

Step 6:
Now the box is ready to assemble. I used 4 stacks of two quarter dollars under plastic wrap near the corners of the bottom to raise the bottom of the box and help avoid getting moisture trapped under the box.
Put the waterproof glue around the edge of the bottom piece. The edge pieces can now be added after placing an even layer of glue on the mitered edges and then held in place with the band clamp.
After the glue cures the box can be sanded and filled.
If you have left any holes from removed nails or other holes that go through the wood these need to be patched either from the outside or inside of the box.
I also ran a bead of caulk around the inside bottom of the box to seal up any gaps between the bottom and sides of the box. This step is necessary to keep fiberglass resin from the next step passing through the holes or gaps that might be in the box.

Step 7:
The inside of the box can now be fiberglassed following the package instructions. It is very important to completely seal the inside of the box with fiberglass.
After sanding I finished the box with polyurethane.
The final item added to my boxes were 4 small clear stick-on pads to help protect the surface that the box will be place upon.

Submitted by:
Dave Hanson, in Longview, WA

Arbor Month Event

April 2014 is Portland’s Arbor Month, and Our United Villages has a tour planned! You can see our event and others over at Arbor Month Activities Around Town.

Arbor Month - Tour & Discussion

Saturday, April 19th

Please join us for a closer look at the urban harvesting of lumber in the Portland area - from buildings instead of trees! We’ll also discuss how “waste” can be a resource, and brainstorm ways to all work together in building a vibrant and thriving local community.

Everyone will be meeting up for the tour at the community trees (in front of The ReBuilding Center warehouse). We hope to see you there!

The ReBuilding Center
3625 N Mississippi Ave
Portland, OR 97227

Bird Bath

Cory is inspired by “taking someone else’s materials and turning it into something they may never have dreamed of”.

Project Difficulty: Moderate

Materials Needed:

  • 1 glass diffuser (from a ceiling light fixture)
    Should be large and shallow, with no holes or openings
  • 1 glass ring with three holes (from a light fixture)
    Opening should be slightly smaller than diffuser
  • 3 knobs with bolts (from a cupboard)
    Check that knob hardware can thread through the glass ring’s holes
  • 3 door striker plates
  • Links of chain (from a light fixture or similar)
  • Mounting hardware (from an old chandelier)
  • Screws and various hardware to connect all the pieces

Equipment Needed:

  • Pliers to open and close chain links
  • Crescent wrench
  • Screwdriver (manual or power)


Step 1: Thread one knob’s bolt down through a hole in both the glass ring (with the knob facing up) and a door striker plate; the striker plate should cross under the ring and extend past the outer edge. (See photos below.) Fasten knob in place, then repeat steps for the remaining knobs and striker plates.

Step 2: Attach the chain links to each other and mounting hardware as needed, then attach the last link of each chain to a striker plate. (See photos below.)

Step 3: Affix mounting hardware to your chosen location.

Step 4: Rinse glass diffuser and fill with water, then place it on top of the glass ring. The outside edges of the diffuser will rest on the tops of the knobs.

What inspires you to do creative reuse?
“The thing that is so inspiring to me is taking someone else’s materials and turning it into something they may never have dreamed of. It’s also fun to enter TRC with an open mind and let the materials tell me what they want to do.”

Additional Comments
“Each time I build anything out of merchandise from The ReBuilding Center, it’s case by case how it’s built - all depending on what’s available at the time of construction.”

Submitted by:
Cory McGuire in Portland, OR

Creative ReUse Challenge: Hollow Core Doors

We’re excited to announce The ReBuilding Center’s Creative ReUse Challenge taking place throughout the month of November.

Flex your creative muscle to show off your project that reuses or re-purposes the common Hollow Core Door.  Build a desk, modify doors to make storage shelves, make it into an interesting art piece - the only limit is your imagination!  Drop by The ReBuilding Center to grab a hollow core door and discover what you can do!  All hollow core bi-pass and bi-fold doors are 25% off through November 30.

Here’s how it works:
1) Select and purchase a flat bi-pass or bi-fold hollow core door(s) at The ReBuilding Center for your reuse or re-purpose idea.
2) Create something new, useful, and/or interesting out of your door(s)!
3) If you’re willing to contribute to our creative reuse library, take photos of your finished project and email them to: reuse@rebuildingcenter.org . Please add a note telling us about your project—e.g., what you built, how you built it, how the creative process guided you, etc. (Note: By sending your submission, you are giving The ReBuilding Center permission to share your idea on our website, unless you specify otherwise.)
4) Each participant who submits a photo and description of their project will be rewarded with a 10% off coupon that can be used at The ReBuilding Center on a future purchase!
5) We will highlight selected hollow core door reuse/re-purpose project submissions in our Creative ReUse Library

Stillmotion Creates New Film for The ReBuilding Center

Check out Stillmotion and you’ll find a band of filmmakers and storytellers, who as a rule, let their curiosity get the best of them. They believe that the process of discovery is just as important as what ends up on the screen. Loving to share their passion for film making, a few times a year Stillmotion hosts EVO, a 4 day intense educational workshop where 3 teams conceptualize, shoot, edit, and deliver a final piece to 3 pre-selected non-profits, to help tell their story and give back.

A heartfelt thank you to the team members who produced the film: Michael Gerhman (Neenah, WI), Robert Borejszo (Vancouver, BC), and Paul Harrison (Frisco, TX), and team leader, local Portland photographer, Leah Nash, and Stillmotion!

“It was a pleasure and an honor for the EVO team to create this piece for The ReBuilding Center of Our United Villages.  I was struck by the amount of heart and dedication we encountered in every person the center touches.  The film is an opportunity to give a voice and face to an organization so dedicated not only to a healthier, more sustainable environment but to a thriving local community.  The piece is for the people that go out of their way to make the place we all call home just a little bit better.” – Leah Nash

JUNE 8: Discover The Commons!

Our United Villages invites the community to gather at The Commons on Saturday, June 8 from 1 to 4 pm.  We’re having a launch party for the Community Legacy Program—spotlighting community resources and a new gathering space at The ReBuilding Center.  We’re also celebrating The ReBuilding Center’s 15th birthday! Join us in celebrating this new community resource while enjoying refreshments and cake, live music, door prizes and a chance to meet your neighbors. Family friendly activities will include face painting and cake.  Thank you!

Read the press release here.

Reclaimed Building Material Transport by Bike Event!

On Sunday, February 24 and again Saturday, March 2, 2013 The ReBuilding Center initiated our first ever reclaimed building materials bicycle transportation event. Inspired by Portland bikers and motivated to take sustainability to another level, we worked with local bike enthusiast Ted Buehler and Shift to Bikes! to coordinate and safely move materials from a house hand dismantled by DeConstruction Services to The ReBuilding Center’s warehouse.  It was a blast and we look forward to doing it again! Thanks to everyone who participated!

ReBuilding Center Gift Cards Available!

Looking for a gift idea? Do your friends or family members love to reuse, enjoy being thrifty, share the values of sustainability? ReBuilding Center Gift Cards can be purchased for any dollar amount. Gift cards are available at the warehouse. Or call 503-517-0953 to purchase over the phone. For more information, email: info@rebuildingcenter.org . Give the gift of reuse for the holidays!

Congratulations Central City Concern’s Community Volunteer Corps

Over the past few years Central City Concern’s Community Volunteer Corps (CVC) have become a staple volunteer group here at the ReBuilding Center and we look forward to hosting them every week. We were honored to have the chance to nominate them for the Volunteer Innovation Award at the 2012 Portland Trail Blazers/Hands on Greater Portland Heart of the Community Awards.

CVC’s clients are formerly homeless and participate in the program to build their resumes and skills and get back into the workforce. In the process, they have delivered more than 30,000 hours of volunteer services to numerous nonprofits in our community including well over 3,000 hours at The ReBuilding Center alone.

Watch the wonderful video below created for the event.

Sneak Peek: Spring 2012 Class Schedule

Our Fall/Winter class schedule filled up faster than ever and we know many of you are eagerly awaiting our spring schedule. The full schedule will be out at the end of next week and will include classes from March to June. Check back to sign up or Sign Up for for our classes and workshop newsletter and be the first to know! While you are waiting, here are a few of the most popular classes we will be bringing back this spring!

Introduction to Carpentry for Women 101
This hands-on workshop builds up a comfortable working knowledge with construction and woodshop principles. It covers safety, power tools, hand tools, and basic techniques. Students will build a simple product from reclaimed materials to take home their experience. For all skill levels

Introduction to Carpentry for Women 102
Builds on the basic skills you will learn from the 101 class. 102 goes further into specific tools and gives you an opportunity to use larger shop tools like the table saw, band saw, and drill press. For intermediate skill levels

Classic Window Repair and Screen/Strom Window Building
Restore classic wood sash windows to make them fully operable and more energy efficient. Then go in to detail on how to build your own wood screen/storm windows. Learn the whole process from layout to finish. Gain experience with tools like the table saw, and if you have a (small) window or windows you’re looking to restore in your own home bring in the dimensions and build a storm window to your specs. For beginner to intermediate skill levels

Building Bee Hives pictured above
Get hands-on experience on how to construct your own bee hives out of reclaimed materials, and discuss organic bee hive maintenance.

Custom Reception Desk for Local Yoga Studio

We have been busy in the ReFind Furniture workshop lately working on a variety of custom projects. We just installed a reception desk at the new Yoga Shala opening this month in SE Portland. The design was inspired by and created from ship lap which was used as an underlayment in building construction. Similar to how plywood is used today. ReFind Furniture is also creating display racks for the same location.

The image above, from one of our deconstruction projects, shows ship lap in its original use.

Two Homes Saved For ReUse

DeConstruction Services is in the middle of taking down two whole houses and one detached garage at SE Alder and 20th Ave. These homes, built in 1891 and 1924, are producing racks and racks of amazing lumber. You can find volunteers de-nailing it daily in the ReBuilding Center lumber yard.

The location is the future home of Buckman Court Apartments being built by Creston Homes, LLC. Another deconstruction project is in the works with Creston Homes, LLC. to take down an old building on E Burnside. Thank you Creston Homes, LLC. for your commitment to saving these buildings from the landfill!

2011 has been a great year. We are excited to see what 2012 will hold. Help make 2012 successful with your own deconstruction project. Contact us for a free estimate or learn more about our services at www.deconstructionservices.org.