We are compiling a list of upcycling hints and tips for working with various materials and objects.  If you have any tips to add, please contact us.

Safety First
  • Always use / wear the recommended safety protection when using tools and products e.g. masks, gloves, goggles, aprons or old clothing.
  • Ensure the area is well ventilated when using any kind of chemical products.
  • Tie back long hair and remove any loose fitting jewellery when using machinery to reduce the risk of catching these in the machinery.
  • Keep your work surfaces and work space area tidy and free of clutter and ensure that there are no lose cables lying around.
  • Make sure you protect your work surface / area when using products such as spray paint or you may end up spraying more that you intended!


  • To remove labels easily dab oil (vegetable, oil, baby, WD40) onto the label until it is soaked through and and leave it for a few hours, it should then just slide off.  If not apply some more oil and leave for a longer period of time before trying again.
  • To clean up minor scuffs and scrapes on leather, rub in some olive oil until you are satisfied that it’s done the trick and then buff if up with a soft cloth.
  • Line your paint tray with tin foil, this makes it easy to clean up and means you can reuse time and time again and it will always be as good as new!
  • Make your own:
    • Fabric Paint – mix acrylic paint with a fabric textile medium and it turns into fabric paint!
    • Chalk Paint – mix 5 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris with 2 cups of paint and 2 tablespoons of water.   Don’t worry if it’s a bit lumpy as it will even out when you brush it on.
  • Make sure you use a primer before painting furniture it will ensure a better and longer lasting finish.
  • When you are painting / staining / varnishing an item of furniture, especially one with a solid base, prop it up on wooden blocks or old books.  This raises the surface and makes it easier to paint and helps avoid excess paint gathering at the base.
  • Try using a small roller or paint sprayer, this is often much quicker than using a brush and also means no brush strokes.
  • To avoid brush strokes use an expensive, high quality brush and only brush in one direction.
  • Use natural brushes for all oil-based finishes (including paint and synthetic or nylon brushes for latex, acrylic or water-based finishes. Rollers and rags can work for either type of finish.
  • Once you have painted furniture make sure you protect the surface by sealing it.  Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic is a popular choice as it does not yellow over time Polyurethane will.
  • If you are intending on heating and cutting / shaping records, use records from the 1970’s onwards as older records tend to be thicker and more difficult to manipulate.
  • If you have an item with stripped holes / loose screws (the holes have become to big for the screws) try gluing in a golf tee, cutting off the excess and then adding screw.
Sourcing Items To Upcycle
  • There are lots of options for finding items to upcycle, such as:
    • Architectural Salvage yards / shops
    • Auctions
    • Car Boot Sales
    • Charity Shops
    • Estate Sales
    • Flea Markets
    • Friends and family
    • Furniture Initiatives
    • Junk yards
    • Local shops, restaurants and bars
    • On the street – keep your eye out for abandoned pieces of furniture left out on the street
    • Online
    • Recycling Centres
 Wood Restoration
  • If you want to restore a wooden item or surface and it has some scuffs or scratches in the varnish you may not have to go to the trouble of sanding and re-varnishing.  Try mixing 3 parts olive or vegetable oil to 1 part vinegar and gently rub this solution over the surface until the scuffs /scratches disappear.  Then buff the surface with a clean dry cloth to bring up the shine.