DIY Skate Bench: Extreme Recycling

Individuality rules when it comes to teen living spaces. In the years before my son left for college he would change his room around often. While I originally thought the constant “dumping” of discarded stuff onto my living room floor was a rebellious act meant to drive me crazy, I realized that it was more a reflection of his maturing tastes towards reinvention and independence. As Raffi was replaced by Jimi (Hendrix) and “Goodnight Moon” gave way to “Siddhartha,” the training wheels were substituted with skateboards and snowboards. I now view these changes as opportunities to “connect” with him.

We went through a period during the skateboard phase when my son was breaking boards every few weeks. An expensive proposition that at the time ate up most of his allowance. His extreme sport became extremely expensive. After he cleared out his room to go to college and took his skateboard of the moment with him, I sifted through his closet. Skate decks, wheels, axels, trucks and bearings were left behind in the wreckage. I scooped them up and went to work figuring out how to reuse his castoffs.

I am awestruck by the ingenuity of designers with ideas in divergent directions. One company that creatively blends skateboard culture with mid-century design (a personal home style favorite of mine) is Skate Study House (SSH). Recreating popular modern furniture designs by reusing skateboard decks for tables, chairs and couches, and skate wheels and bearings for clocks, SSH takes green design to the extreme.

My son is home for the winter college break and I showed him the SSH site. He loves to build things (right now he is building a guitar). Here’s how he made a skate bench.

For the bench we ordered hairpin legs at and secured them on the underside of the board using the hardware provided in the kit. These legs were designed to fit right into previously drilled holes on skateboard decks. Used skateboard decks have grip tape on one side, which has a sandpaper feel that you might want to cover. We didn’t, for a more authentic look. The gashes and scraped graphics add to the gritty appeal and the hairpin legs give the bench a retro feel. Other websites offer these hairpin-type legs. They come in a variety of heights, finishes and pre cut holes:

If skateboarding is a part the culture of your family, Bamboosk8 is a skateboarding company practicing due diligence to minimize the impact of skateboarding on the environment with their bamboo skateboards. Read here to learn how they green their decks.

The skatebench is a quirky take on design, but it is an inspired approach to furniture design that even an eco-mother could love.

Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.


Rita P.
Rita P9 years ago

I like the idea of the table. It would make for a nice side table for a teen room. I once saw someone use skate boards for shelves. They mounted some from the side and some cut in half to make it look like they were coming out of the wall. I liked the idea when I saw it but didn't like that the designer used new boards. Another idea for the parts if you have lots of wheels. Is to glue them together, get a lamp wiring kit and make bedside lamps. Could even take some of the broken boards to attach them to an old head board for an update.
Just would like to point out that no were in the artical did it say that the parents bought all the skate boards and that maybe the boy worked hard to buy them. And for someone to say it was a waste of money to buy them, is upseting because at least the boy was not sitting around the house getting fat, playing video games.
More teens should be skate boarding and riding bikes.

Christie C.
Christie C9 years ago

A friend of mine has a coffee table made out of an old snowboard. It has simple 2 x 4 legs bolted underneath, various stickers plastered all over it and some sort of clear lacquer to seal it. It's not fancy, but has style and gets positive comments a lot.
If paying someone to do something you can't is obscene, then perhaps you can barter with a skilled friend or learn some basic carpentry. If you save scrap materials like I do (randomly found nuts and bolts, odds n ends lumber) or use other things laying around the house, you can also reduce the amount of new materials needed. Hitting up the dumpster at a hardware store isn't a bad place to look for materials either.
I think this article was meant to inspire, not to mandate exactly how you should recycle your old boards. Use your imagination; we all have one!

Cherilyn D.
Cherilyn D9 years ago

I guess I'm a little confused by the negative response to this article. I loved the idea of recycling some of the stuff the author's son had left behind that was destined for the trash.

Not all of us have the time or skill to fashion or find pieces for the items we'd like to give a second life, so the idea of some enterprising business person making a piece (the legs) that I can't is something I can support. I'm happy to pay them a bit of money and hope they can make a decent living doing something they enjoy. The time I save trying to make the legs can be spent playing with my children.

Campbell W.
Campbell W9 years ago

I am really tired of eco-friendly, recycled products that only the RICH can afford. I can only hope that the present recession will open the eyes of these people and if they want to stay in business will lower their prices. I understand they are not using slave labor, but their prices are more than any other US price ever considered being unless someone wanted to shop on Rodeo Ave. I dont know about you - but I dont live that lifestyle nor pay check! Its time to think of the masses who WANT to live eco friendly, instead of the rich who can afford to live any way they please!

Lynette B.
Past Member 9 years ago

I can't believe people are criticizing this project - I think it's great! - and it is certainly better than throwing old decks into the dump (old boards cannot simply be 'thrown into the fireplace', because the wood likely contains glue). I for one do not think they are ugly, nor would other big skateboarding fans; however, if they're too scratched/worn/dirty, people could simply give them a good scrub with a brush and slap on a new coat of (eco-friendly!) paint, and even further decorate from there.

Daniel W.
Daniel W9 years ago

What's the point of reusing and recycling when you end up with something as ugly as this?

If you want to be truly green, throw the skateboard (the wooden part) in the fireplace for heat, and make your own furniture out of high-quality wood, which is a truly renewable resource that literally grows on trees, and make it with high quality construction and design so that it becomes an "heirloom" piece that people keep and use for generations instead of throwing away when another fad comes along.

No one is going to want this ugly skateboard bench after you've gotten tired of it wasting space in your home.

Deborah S.
Deborah S9 years ago

(Continued from above comment - which was apparently too long. Oops!)

...(except as unuseable toxic hills surrounding our cities). It is a ridiculous and damaging cycle we MUST break if we are gong to save ourselves and our planet.

At the very least, MS. Citron-Fink, next time shop at a second hand or thrift store for those needed items for your "recycling project". Those goods have already made it out of the supply and demand loop by having been previously "consumed". Reusing those is the equivalent of using your own trash - and is actually GOOD for the planet.

Deborah S.
Deborah S9 years ago

When I saw this photo of the skateboard bench, I thought - UGLY!, but at least someone was making a genuine effort to reduce the mass in the local landfill, so good for them! Then I read the article.

I have to say, I am really disappointed to find yet another instance of FAKE recycling in the guise of "greeness". If this writer (however well intentioned she may have meant to be) really wanted to do something good for the planet, she would have made the legs from some other "trash" object around the house instead of consuming MORE stuff to make it. People don't seem to get it. The third part of the mantra "Recycle, Reuse, Reduce" is meant to be taken just as seriously as the first two. If we really want to clean up our act as a species, we have got to stop looking at "consuming" as just another harmless and mildly amusing foible, and start seeing it as the vice it is. If you don't really NEED something, then buying it is a waste of resources (both yours and the planet's) and it creates a bigger market economy (which in turn generates a higher demand for the production of yet more goods to satisfy it). Supply and demand may sound like a good thing - and to business folk I'm sure it is -but the problem with it is that the more WE willingly buy, the more THEY gleefully make. (Afterall, that's more $$$ in the bank for them.) Then, the more they make, the more of our planet's dwindling natural resources are taken up never to be seen again (except as unuseable toxic hills su

Gari Airnuts
Gari Airnuts9 years ago

Really extreme were the Germans when re-cycling became popular some 20yrs back

A tea bag belonged in five (yes 5) different disposal containers:

1) String
2) Metal staple
3) Paper round the tea
4) The tea in degradeable
5) Didn't forget the card with which you hold it I hope

Nothing like the Deutsche Grundlichkeit LOL