Worried too much about wasted wood?

decibel

Patrick
Corporate Member
Hey guys I have a hard time with my projects because I spend so much time trying to eek out every part out of the least amount of lumber possible.

I am grabbing off cuts digging through scrap to prevent waste. Am I going too far l. I just feel guilty cutting up big boards when. I can find scrap and I don't really ever get rid of scrap. So it keeps growing...


How much do you obsess over the scrap pile in the middle of a project?
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
Scraps can be good if they are of a decent size - having said that - it is up to you as what you consider a decent size. Being a turner first, I look at scraps that are at least one inch wide and 6 inches long, if the piece is smaller than that. I don't worry about keeping it around.
 

Brian Patterson

Bstrom
User
I keep the worthy scraps of walnut and other good woods to have ready when a small idea pops into my head. Nothing worse than having too cut up a nice piece of lumber for that odd idea with no scrap to pull out.
 

rcarmac

Robert
Corporate Member
I feel your pain. I do a lot of small projects and have been overcome with scrap. The hardest part of a project right now for me is sorting thru my pile to find the piece that is not too big or not too small
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
That's a tough one.

I make a lot stuff from pine, so most of that scrap I don't worry too much about, although I do hang on to quite a bit. I have several bins and shelves around the shop filled with hardwood 'scraps'. Like Brian said, hate to have to cut into a nice. large piece of lumber when all you might need is something small. That being said, once my scrap storage is filled, I do toss out most scrap. When I build a commission, a certain amount of scrap is built in to the price, so it is somewhat easier to justify tossing out 'perfectly good wood'.
 

AllanD

Allan
Senior User
Guilty. I save too many cutoffs, etc. I grew up frugal and it is hard to break. I have been getting a little better with throwing stuff in the burning pile but could do better.
 

Bas

Recovering tool addict
Bas
Corporate Member
I have a friend with a fire pit. I have found this to be enormously motivational to get rid of small pieces of wood. But it's not easy. I might have a piece of plywood 14" x 5". Too big to just toss automatically, too small to probably ever be useful. But hardwood cutoffs will generally be reused, it's just a matter of when. Probably about 6 years after I die.

Sometimes my focus on not wasting wood and reusing smaller pieces really impacts productivity and enjoyment. That's when I try to remember that this is a hobby, that it's about having fun, and that you're still saving lots of money building things yourself vs. buying it at the store, so why worry about that one board that costs $20?
 

mgreene93

Mark
Corporate Member
I only save scrap that’s 3/4” or larger. I then cut it into pen blanks. I haven’t turned a pen yet, but when I do, I’ll have plenty of material.
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
I keep scraps, the chisel drawers were made from strippings and cutoffs. The thing is 1/2 way into the project you realize a lot of the scraps have poor or defective grain making finishing a pain .....still I keep most everything longer than I should.
 

kelLOGg

Bob
Senior User
I am a "hobby" sawyer who has just finished sawing 7 to 8 thousand bdft for a friend's house siding and I feel terrible about trashing the pine slabs when there is a recoverable 2' 2x4 somewhere in the slabs. I saved lumber that is not quite long, wide, thick enough or has too much wane and have a horse shed full of it and plan to dry and dress it up and save it for.... Make great dog houses, etc.
 

ScottM

Scott
Staff member
Corporate Member
I have boxes of off cuts. I always surface them first before cutting a larger piece and I know it takes a lot of time.
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
I have boxes and buckets of offcuts from 6” to 3’ that I regularly cull for random pieces needed to shim something or throw away. Like others I tend to pitch the pine first and save the hardwood for a later day (sometimes I burn the hardwood in the fireplace, never pine though).
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
Most rough cut lumber has a recommended waste factor of about 20-30%. So if your project needs 25 bf you'd buy about 31 bf which allows for working around any defects and fine tuning. That necessarily generates some waste but it's not a crime to keep it as scrap or throw it in the wood stove. If you can store it conveniently without tripping over it then do it.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
(sometimes I burn the hardwood in the fireplace, never pine though).
Pine is fine to use in the fireplace. Creosote buildup from a hot fire in a fireplace is not a problem but it can be in a slower burning fire in a wood stove.
 

Mrfixit71

Board of Directors, Treasurer
Rich
Staff member
Corporate Member
Woodworking is a hobby for me and I save a lot of scraps, mostly hardwood. We refer to the scraps as wood that hasn't found a project yet. For small projects, I usually start by seeing what I have for scrap. I spend too much time digging through them trying to avoid cutting a big board, especially if it's for a glue up project like a cutting board or a segmented turning. Like Allan, I grew up frugal and haven't broken old habits. Being retired, I have the time and currently have the space so I probably won't change, although once in a while I'll do a major clean out.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Things get a little easier when it is acknowledged as a predictable cycle. Keeping and using cut-offs is what most recreational woodworkers strive to do. Acquiring good wood is an effort and an expense.
Dealing with the storage problem cut-offs present is a matter of setting priorities and making the hard decision to purge the pile. Set a minimum size or species to keep and go for it.

After the purge, you'll find that in the first few weeks, you'll wish you had 5-10% of the wood back but you'll appreciate the new space more than you miss the wood. As time goes on, the cut-off pile will increase to the point of being marginally useful again. That's usually right before another purge is necessary.

There will be problem pieces that you've had for years and not used. There's almost an emotional attachment to those pieces because you've put so much care into their storage. That's just the way it is and is going to be.
 

sawman101

Bruce Swanson
Corporate Member
I do a lot of re-sawing when I'm beginning most projects, as I have all hardwood rough cut, air and kiln dried. Many of my projects require 1/4" thick. At any rate, I end up with surplus pieces, and my shelves are filled with these pieces, in the hopes they will soon be used in an upcoming project. I just can't help it I'm a wood hoarder. My barn contains 4/4 and 8/4 cherry, black walnut, maple, poplar, and red cedar, while the 8' shed on the side of the shop has poplar, red oak, white oak, sapele, black walnut, cherry etc. cut offs; 4 stickered and covered stacks on the lawn contain more ERC, ash, oaks, poplar, and black walnut. Like Bas, I probably won't use a lot of it until years after I kick the bucket.
I just can't help myself sometimes, I'm a wood hoarder. Gonna pick up some oak from Guy In Paradise today because--I'm very low on oak--that's why! Dunno when or why I'll ever use it.
 

Canuck

Wayne
Corporate Member
Scraps rock when in need of smallish material for tiny projects.

(This week as a matter of fact two of our grand daughters wanted some pictures frames. Found about 8 pieces of poplar 1 1/2" x 36" in my stash. Made up 5 frames. "free wood"! Kept them occupied painting their beach themed frames for about four hours.

I to have issues with pitching useable wood. (Even plywood scraps which make perfect drawer bottoms!)
 

walnutjerry

Jerry
Senior User
I am guilty of keeping "scraps" also. When I worked for the millwork company, the owner said nothing is scrap if you can use it. Each has to decide if it is "useful".
 

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