A few years back, I bought a pair of old church pews at an auction. They were a little weather beaten, but still in good enough condition to do 'something' with. After a while I found the time to start carving one. I used my old, cheap tools and slogged through it. I learned a lot about carving and tools and staining and four months later I had a special piece of furniture.
This pew for sale and has led to other wood carving projects.
Also check out my companion site: CarvedChurchPews.com