What To Do With Wood Scraps

February 15, 2013 § 2 Comments

chi01

It doesn’t take many projects, big or small, to begin accumulating mounds of scrap wood and small offcuts. Each time you walk into your shop they seem to multiply like cancerous cells since you’ve been gone. I have these little black plastic bins where I keep throwing pieces. Plywood goes in one bin, all other woods in the rest. Everything gets saved because I tell myself that I will need them one day. Surely there will come a time a small piece will be perfect for a task at hand, and I’ll go over to my scrap bins and triumphantly find just the right leftover. The reality, of course, is that it is highly unlikely for 95% of the wood in those bins. The Murphy’s Law of offcuts is that all the scraps you have so carefully saved will be just a little too small for what you need in the future.

A few weeks back Tico Vogt wrote about how he deals with his offcuts – they are put to use heating his home. I’ve been meaning to implement a similar solution for some time. Unfortunately we don’t have a wood stove in the house, but I would still rather not throw everything away. So last weekend I bought a chiminea for the back yard. I also built (from scraps) a quite pathetic-looking carrier to bring the wood to the fire.

There are specific instructions that come with a chiminea. Sudden changes in temperature can cause the clay to crack, so care should be taken to not immediately load a cold chiminea with fast-burning pine and light the match. In my case I just started with a small pile of plane shavings and some small pieces of hardwood. Once the clay slowly heated up, I started to add larger pieces of both hard and softwoods. Obviously you can’t build a raging bonfire with this setup and reduce all your wood scraps to ash at one fell swoop, but it makes a nice little fire and it helps reduce unnecessary clutter in the shop. Of course, man-made materials like plywood and mdf should not be burned, and unfortunately their fate is the city landfill.

chi02

chi03

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§ 2 Responses to What To Do With Wood Scraps

  • Tico Vogt says:

    Nice!

    A thought I’ve had for a long time (and have no idea how to implement) would be a website where people can offer for sale, swap, or give away offcut pieces. I would imagine that many of my offcuts would be happily taken by puzzle makers, luthiers, makers of childrens toys, and people who do inlay, for example.

    • Eric Bushèe says:

      Hi Tico,

      I’ve thought much the same thing. I imagine you would get plenty of unusable stuff, though, as some folks would just dump everything on you. Still, it’s always nice to use as much as possible.

      -Eric

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