I decided to do something useful with our dilapidated old fence that needed to be replaced ***. A simple looking, rustic ceiling light/chandelier at First Watch caught my eye. It was larger than I needed, but I used the general style. Initially I saved some of the rest of the wood to be used as rustic wall paneling, but ultimately I discarded it in lieu of better looking materials.
Here is the inspiration and my final creation side by side:
Here are some photos of steps involved:
- 4×4 fence post
- 4 fence slats
- 4 fence brackets
- chain cut into 2 segments (2′ each)
- power strip electical chord (ceiling connect wiring)
- 18-2 wire cut into 6 segments (5′ each, pendant wiring)
- 6 lamp repair sockets
- 6 vintage LED bulbs
- various nuts, bolts, swivel hooks
- separate wood from fence
- remove nails/screws/staples (be careful of rusty metal)
- brush clean w/ dish soap and water and let dry in hot sun for a while/day
- cut all wood to desired sizes (5′ in my case)
- nail slats to post
- drill appropriate holes for mounting hardware (wherever you want)
- cut a hole with a hole-saw somehwere to hide junction of wires
- cut or paint any mounting hardware as desired, then mount to wood
- assemble lamp sockets with pendant wiring
- connect all wires together, ceiling wire + pendant wires
- mount eye screws, hooks or hoists to ceiling, preferably in ceiling beams (don’t use anchors!!)
- connect chains/hangers to the mounting hardware, then hang and center/balance as desired
- finally wire pendant light cluster to ceiling light box and arrange pendant lights as desired
*** If your fence is pressure treated w/ CCA:
- wear gloves
- prevent water draining into garden, well, lake, etc.
- capture/contain all saw dust, bag and dispose in garbage (do not compost!)
Please note that I did read up on using old pressure treated wood quite a bit before using inside the house, and ultimately decided that the risk of any chemical poisoning to my family was extremely low, if non-existent in this case.
First of all, pressure-treated wood sold in the United States after 2003 is almost guaranteed to not be made with CCA (chromated copper arsenate), the most feared pressure-treated chemical concoction (because of the arsenic). So there is a chance that my dilapidated wood fence does not even contain inorganic arsenic. However, given its dilapidated state, and slightly greenish hue, I’m inclinded to think that it does (or did at one time) :/
Inorganic arsenic is feared for good reason and is the reason for the US EPA’s conservative ban on CCA pressure-treatment chemcials of exterior building materials. Some published studies and much emperical evidence showed that CCA chemicals could leech off during rainful and over time, affecting soil, food products grown in the soil, water touching such products, and skin. Gardeners and farmers were especially worried because of the link from wood to soil to water to food to humans. Although this was a very natural concern, many tests have showed that the leeching of these chemials is most prominent when the wood is still wet (from pressure treatment) up until the first rainfall season. After that, leeching “settles down to slow release of small amounts,” decreasing over time. Other tests have shown that the radius of leeching is very small, and even published papers recommended keeping plant roots only 1′ from such treated materials. Soil or water in direct contact with the materials, however, is at risk. Deeper water table risks are unfounded, as the chemicals don’t travel that far. The biggest concerns seem to be: recently CCA pressure-treated wood, sawdust from cutting the wood, or ashes from burning the wood. And all of this really highlights one thing – water contamination – which when ingested causes harm.
Of interest, is the fact that there is actually a tolerable daily intake limit of inorganic arsenic ingestion provided by the World Health Organization. This is due to multiple “situations,” studies and findings of inorganic arsenic in contaminated drinking water of (mostly) undeveloped countries. These limits refer to ingestion of the chemical, “([…] through drinking-water and food)” and “occur after a minimum exposure of approximately five years”. And there is no evidence (that I am aware of) of CCA treated wood gassing off arsenic into the air unless it is burned. After burning, even the ashes are still toxic.
Finally, for this project specifically, note that it is a ceiling lamp that is largely untouchable (and certainally not edible ;), and after 20 years of rains and humidity, I recently scrubbed it down with soap and water and sanded the heck out of it. And if inorganic arsenic leeching of newish CCA wood into direct contact soil or water is the primary problem, then this doesn’t apply. I feel the risk of any arsenic poisoning in this situation is extremely low, if at all present. There are much larger poisoning/cancer risk factors for my family including: their genes, UV spectrum radiation, non-organic cleaning products, second hand smoke, alcohol, viruses and bacteria, etc.