Working for Good: Metalwood Salvage of Portland
The web should be open to everyone, a place for unbridled innovation, education, and creative expression. That’s why Firefox fights for Net Neutrality, promotes online privacy rights, and supports open-source tech around the globe. We strive to make the online community a better place. We also know people everywhere work tirelessly to improve their own communities. In this series, we’re profiling businesses that work to make the world better—and use Firefox to support a healthy, open, and safe internet.
Every year, millions of tons of scrap metal is crushed and shipped around the globe to be melted and remade into new material. It’s a good way to recycle, but artist and craftsman Eric Bohne does even better. He rescues and reuses scrap metal before it gets anywhere near a forge. Bohne runs Metalwood Salvage, a Portland, OR shop that sells rescued scrap, makes custom furniture, and teaches the community how to create new things out of old stuff.
“I saw that an overwhelming amount of useful, usable, unique materials were being wasted,” says Bohne. “If you’re an artist, finding unique materials is where it’s at. When you’re exposed to that much waste it’s overwhelming and you have to do something to try save as much of it as possible.”
Bohne grew up in the Northeast U.S., building and refurbishing anything and everything with his grandfather. His family used time and effort to turn forgotten materials into usable furniture, structures, decorations, and more. He became a professional contractor, specializing in using repurposed materials. Eventually he made his way to Portland, Oregon. He refurbished restaurants, businesses, homes, furniture—anything his clients needed—all using reclaimed materials. Over the years, he amassed a treasure of reclaimed metal and wood. Contractors and artists started asking to buy his stock. “I had so much of it, and the demand was there. It made a lot of sense to open up a shop and let people use it to build their own things,” he says.
He partnered with a good friend and opened up shop in Northeast Portland. Today Metalwood has a sprawling yet highly organized shop filled with reclaimed materials, furniture, and countless odds and ends. Bohne has two full-time employees to help keep track of it all, to build custom furniture, and teach crafting classes.
Fabricator Janette Boyer teaches a six-hour welding basics class on nights and weekends. “Being able to manipulate metal gives you a power,” she says. “It opens up new channels for creativity and lets you use materials that are usually difficult to work with.”
Bohne plans to expand classes and open up more of the shop for DIY projects and woodworking classes. He will also continue to take on commissions for furniture and other fabrication projects using second-hand materials. Through it all, he hopes to help build a more sustainable and creative community. “The philosophy of Metalwood is all about sustainability and community, giving people ways to repurpose materials, be artful, and make the world a better place,” he says.
“Metalwood is about being sustainable, creating something new, bringing people together, and building a community,” says Boyer. “I know Firefox is about the same things and that’s why we choose to use it.”