Life in Portland Blog

Feeling Crafty? A Guide to PDX Do-It-Yourself Centers

 PDX's Fairy DIY Godmother: The Rebuilding Center on N Mississippi

PDX's Fairy DIY Godmother: The Rebuilding Center on N Mississippi

Portland's Resources for Designing & Building Things on Your Own

Portland is a DIY paradise – so much so, that the city is practically set up to serve the needs of the crafty. Whether your project is as small as building yourself a new set of rustic patio furniture or a new play house for the kids, or as big as a personally designed and built addition or free-standing studio/guesthouse, this city has all the resources you need to design and build it yourself.

Best of all, many of the city’s DIY resources are built on the not-for-profit model, offering inexpensive used materials, classes, and in some cases, even the equipment you need to get the job done. Read on, intrepid do-it-yourselfers, for a list of the best places to get your build on in the City of Roses.

The Rebuilding Center

The mother, godmother, and fairy godmother of DIY resources, The Rebuilding Center, takes up the better part of a city block over on N. Mississippi, selling used remodeling and building materials. They’re a nonprofit institution in PDX, with the primary aim of promoting the use of reclaimed or salvaged building materials.

 Some of the Best Reclaimed Housing Wood in PDX

Some of the Best Reclaimed Housing Wood in PDX

They demolish derelict buildings and get the remainder of the materials they sell by donation. This is the place to drop off the materials from anything you’re tearing down, and to get what you need to start fresh. They also offer free presentations, classes, and workshops to get you up to speed on a variety of demolition and construction techniques.

The Tool Library(ies)

Generally speaking, a tool library is a community nonprofit that allows members to borrow tools, instructional materials, and equipment for free or on the cheap (compared to a tool rental business). Portland has four of them: one in North Portland, one in Lents, one in Northeast, and one in Southeast.

Repair Café

 Puttin' It Back Together at the Repair Cafe in PDX

Puttin' It Back Together at the Repair Cafe in PDX

A repair café is another type of nonprofit, with the goal of empowering people to keep their broken bikes, appliances, and gadgets longer, repairing them when they break instead of donating them to the local landfill. The Repair PDX doesn’t currently have a permanent space, instead co-hosting events at area locations with other organizations. Check out their website for the dates of upcoming Fixin’ Portland events.


The Habitat for Humanity Restore is a bit like The Rebuilding Center in that they are a non-profit that takes in building materials and then resells them. Unlike The Rebuilding Center, Restore also resells appliances and furniture, and all of their proceeds go toward Habitat for Humanity’s mission. They have locations in Southeast Portland, Vancouver, and Beaverton, and they also operate a salvage service.

Salvage Works

Salvage Works is a for-profit business located in the Kenton neighborhood of North Portland. Salvage works recycles building materials and fixtures, turning them into beautiful furniture, art objects, and other things. They also sell reclaimed lumber for all of your furniture-making needs.

 Building Stuff at PDX's Salvage Works

Building Stuff at PDX's Salvage Works

Get to Work, Portlanders!

Well, there you have it – our rundown of where to go to get your DIY groove on. And if you found this article while you were looking for a different type of DIY resource, here’s a short list of some other resources in Portland for other types of projects.

Now get to work!

[Photos Via: Rebuilding Center, Repair PDX, Salvage Works]