I've always loved creating things from other people's trash.
Not necessarily trash such as milk jugs and packing peanuts, although that has happened - But more like items that people are planning to take to the Goodwill or broken pieces that people are trying to offload in their yard sales for $1. Growing up, my dad and granddad were always into thrifting/bargain hunting/picking, so naturally, I became rather fond of it all and begin doing it on my own as a sort of hobby.
On a recent trip to Goodwill, I came across some aluminum side tables with glass tops that were incredibly ugly, but I instantly saw hope! They were marked $4.99 a piece, which wasn't a bad deal, so I told a nearby worker that I wanted them and was going to pay for them and then return to pick them up. She came over, raised an eyebrow and grabbed a manager. After some whispering back and forth and adding in some waving arms and thigh slaps for drama, she said, "That's the wrong, they are way under priced." I was curious, so I asked her what the actual price was. She went on to inform me that the manager said it was the employee's fault for screwing up, and that I could have them for what they were marked for.
She helps me get them to the front, continues to talk about how she didn't know why they did that, and that the person who did it will be in big trouble, and those tables are worth way more thanblahblahblaaah - This is all happening as she is scanning the order. At the end, she says, "That'll be $4.99"...Uh...Ok? Seeming a bit dumbfound, I gave her the money and went on my way. As I loaded up and got in the car, the realization hit me that I had just gotten two large side tables for $4.99 that were originally incorrectly marked $4.99 a piece.
Obviously the math doesn't add up in this circumstance - but I was happy!
Later that week, I came across a local guy that sells live-edge slabs of kiln dried hardwoods. I gave him a ring, sat up a time and headed over to check out his inventory. High on the shelf in the back of his shed were two beautiful rounds of sassafras that had the middle eaten out by bugs. I saw nothing but potential and had to have them. When asked how much they were, his reply was music to my ears:
Eh, what about $5 a piece?
I brought them home and quickly got to work - I had a vision!
I broke down the aluminum table bases, cleaned them well with denatured alcohol and sprayed them with a matte black paint (I love spraying matte paint on furniture like this, because it hides almost all imperfections). Next, I stripped the bark off of the wood rounds and using a torch, I burnt the inner and outer edges to a crisp. Using a wire brush, I knocked off all of the loose debris left by the torch and proceeded to sand the top and bottom surfaces to 240grit. I applied a coat of BLO (boiled linseed oil) and wax to the face surfaces and sprayed some lacquer on the burnt edges to keep the burnt effect from rubbing off. They were beautiful!
All in all, I had ~$25 into both tables. Upon finishing them, I listed them locally and found some buyers. I know, you're wondering what the total profit was on a flip like this...
I sold the pair for: $200
That's ~$175 profit for next to zero effort! Not only that, but the new owners love them - She messaged me later that day and said they looked perfect in their living room. That alone, was enough to make me smile, but the profit made me happy, also!