How can I reuse or recycle broken ironing boards?

Philip Mitchell Graham has left us another suggestion/excellent upcycle idea:

Ironing boards. One of the great monuments to inbuilt obsolescence is the common ironing board. They are designed to break after a few years, because the folding mechanism is made of cheap mild steel and the legs often buckle if someone places a heavy load of washing on them.

No matter, use a bit of fencing wire to lock them in an open position, then use them as light work benches in the studio or garden. Sure they are light, but many tasks do not need a heavy table. If you have a few of them, you have in effect a modular bench system that you can reconfigure with no effort. They are light enough to move with one arm which is very useful if like me, you find yourself in need of a bench when you have one arm full.

I suspect our ironing board will outlive us since we use it that rarely (in fact we were utterly shocked to find we had one – we thought it had gone to the furniture charity shop before we moved house). It feels really flimsy though so I suspect if we used any more than once a year, it would fall apart in a shot.

I like Philip’s mobile workbench idea. With a tablecloth over it, it could also be an emergency table for a party or bbq.

Any other suggestions? What about if it can’t be fixed with garden wire – any uses for the metal pipe legs or the board itself?

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11 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle broken ironing boards?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was using mine as a temporary table to do something the other day and got to thinking if two bottom parts might be able to support a coffee table top that would be adjustable in height that would also function as a dining table or work desk.
    They are constantly showing up in the garbage/recycling area where I live. I’ve never bought one, have upgraded many times over the last 20 years and have yet to find a sturdy one. I’m always on the lookout for one of the old heavy wooden ones.

    I use mine a lot because I sew and maintain that the best way to improve your sewing is to learn how to iron.

  2. Karmae says:

    Ooops! that was from me.

  3. Roger says:

    You could keep it in the closed position and sew pockets on the cover to stash lightweight stuff in.

  4. carol says:

    We camp a lot, and I have seen people place an ironing board in front of their camper for a table. Nothing heavey is placed on it, sometimes just a catch all, but once we saw it used as a bar, with an ice bucket, glasses and a few bottles of alcohol and mixers. I really liked that idea!

  5. bookstorebabe says:

    When my girl was little, she asked her grandmother-“What’s that?”
    “It’s an ironing board-your mother has one.”
    “No she doesn’t!”
    Well, I do, but rarely use it. Mom couldn’t quit laughing.

    Anyway, a variation on the table idea. Open it, turn it upside down, so the board is the base, fasten the legs in place, and add a board or something for a table top. Using two old ironing boards together might make for a sturdier base, and allow for a bigger top. Never done it, it may be completely impractical!

  6. wong wishes says:

    good as a gardening table. It fits along a narrow passage way and the dirt falls through the mesh as you work keeping the table clean.
    Also it is light enough to move around to work on when you need a bench closer to another part of the garden.

  7. Oraxia says:

    I have a problem similar to this, except that… well, the solution given here *is* my problem. My ironing board broke such that it’s stuck open and I can’t seem to get it to fold anymore :( Not folding is the issue.

    It’s nice that it’s still technically usable, but I don’t really have the space in my small apartment to constantly devote to it. I want to get a working one or fix this one, but since I can’t sort out how to get it to fold again (I think some twisty bits of metal are caught in the surface mesh, but I don’t see anything), I’m not sure how I would fix it. (Plus I don’t exactly have access to metalworking tools beyond perhaps hammers, pliers, and my tin snips.)

  8. D RICH says:

    I actually have 3 old wooden ironing boards varying in size. I removed the protective cloths and discovered the wood was quite pretty. As my husband is rather tall and these boards were from a generation of much smaller stature, I turned them into tiered shelves in my utility room wall. I store books, old buckets with clothes pins, laundry stuff. Looks awesome. Wish I could share a photo.

    I think you could do much the same with the newer metal ones for a more contemporary, modern look. Spray paint them with bright colours and make bookshelves in a child’s room or family room. Or spray them chrome and put them in the garage for buckets of nalis, hang tools from the holes in them with those hooky thingys.

  9. Alice says:

    I’ve got (somewhere) a mini ironing board – a half-sized one that has little 6″ legs and is designed to be used on a table top to save space. I don’t put it on a table because I don’t have one that has an electrical socket near enough for the iron to reach. I just sit on the floor to iron, which works fine.

    If a normal board stopped being able to fold open, could it not just be used on the floor with the legs folded? Or could you take the legs off and make something smaller, like maybe prop it up on a few bricks and then sit on the floor to use it? Or put it on a table.

    If you’re finding lots of broken ones at the tip then maybe look out for one with a sound top and another with a working pair of legs, which you could put together to make one working board.

    Also maybe it’s worth oiling the leg joints so they don’t seize up, and avoiding putting anything heavy on ironing boards – make your clothes pile somewhere else!

    I’m astonished at how much ironing people seem to do anyway. Why is this? Dry clothes flat when you’ve washed them, choose fabrics that don’t need so much ironing, don’t bother doing sheets etc that really don’t matter, and lower your standards of looking neat a bit. It saves loads of time, energy and ironing boards!

  10. T Bacon says:

    I took the legs off both of mine and using a couple of hinges, stood them up and hang my jewelry off them. It makes it easier for the grandkids to play with my costume jewelry that way. If it is a bangle or rings, I use an “s” hook, and I can even clip clip-on earrings to it, I could hang the dangly pierced earrings from their own hooks if I wanted to. VERY handy! T. Bacon

  11. T Bacon says:

    sorry, meant to say that I had the metal mesh ones. T. Bacon

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