Worried too much about wasted wood?


Corporate Member
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.
Bob that's where I am these days. Wood and wood "saves" are taking up too much space. I am suffocating in the shop and I am the cause. Before the winter sets in here in Durham, I am going to convert my shop to a boatbuilding shop and I don't need all these short pieces under my feet.


I make cutting boards for clients (closing gift). If anyone in the triangle has a scrap pile they want to sell with walnut, maple, cherry, Purple Heart, sapele, zebra, or anything else I can use on boards message me. I make my boards about 20” long so prefer at least that long. Don’t hoard or burn your scraps, I will buy from you and use it.


I have an outdoor grilling/fireplace area just outside my shop. All scraps end up in my fireplace.


Co-director of Outreach
Corporate Member
Guilty......wood hoarder here. Burn off the excess in the winter


Senior User
Sadly I am guilty also, I have a neighbor with a fireplace that used to keep me under control, last 2 winters didnt burn much, now I have probably 200 lbs plus, Gonna have to make a burn pit, hate to but i am drowning in scraps


Corporate Member
Glad to see I'm not alone, here's a slight variation of it. I tend to get paralyzed constantly altering the project to fit what's in my scrap. So for instance I'm doing my roubo legs I need 4 1/2 wide. I could cut another piece from the 8 foot long 12/4 board I have or use a scrap piece with wane that's slightly under 4". Which of course then cascades to other pieces of the project etc etc. So I end up continually redesigning on the fly trying to be a wood miser :rolleyes:.

I think my biggest issue is I don't have a "good way" of getting rid of material and I hate chucking it and I can't even burn it unless it goes in the BBQ. I've started trying to donate it or give it away to makerspaces or to any woodworker who want to try something new compared to the dimensional pine they were working with from the big box store.


Phil Ashley
Corporate Member
i too end up keeping scrap around. it comes in handy but generally if it's not even big enough for a pen or bowl blank it gets tossed. but we did make my daughter some harry potter wands from the scrap pile a few months ago.

it comes in handy at times


Phillip Cooper
Corporate Member
I kept scraps to the point I could hardly walk in my shop. I also found throwing wood out hard to do. I finally said enough already, and started culling stuff that I knew would never really be in any project I'd build. I gave away some larger stuff that I didn't want, and the rest of the pile was burned. I filled 15 55 gallon drums full of wood scraps over several days time, and I still have a mountain of wood around. I likely could cull again and find another several barrel fulls of wood to shed, but that will wait for another cleaning frenzy. At least I can walk in my shop now.

Then there are pens, I use to save wood for pens, yet I've got way too many pen blanks, so no more of that. When it comes to wasting wood, if you've ever turned pens, you find that 90% or so of that nice blank you bought goes on the floor, and only a thin strip of it stays on the brass tube. They look nice, but in fact they're a huge waste of wood in percentages of the start of the project. Thankfully none of the pieces really are very big, but the OCD part of us might cringe and sweeping up so much of that blank when we're done. I did a pen the other day where the blank was $20, and I'm sure that $19 of that is shavings.


New User
I used to be a lot worse than I am now.

For the most part, everything other than maple and cherry scraps get tossed.

The maple and cherry I keep for smoking meat. Right now, I am in the process of building 3 new tables for the livingroom (coffee, sofa and end table) out of cherry so I have an abundance of scraps. There is so much scrap, I have been giving most of it to any of my neighbors who enjoy smoking meat.

Mike Wilkins

Senior User
Currently making cutting boards from off-cuts that are too nice to toss in the waste bin. Getting an early start on Christmas gifts.


Senior User
There are various cutlist applications available out on the internet that will optimize your cutting. They will even account for grain direction. I haven't ever used one myself although I generally make a rough layout on a scratch piece of paper.

I generally find that scraps I save aren't the same as the current lumber I'm working on in terms of coloration, grain, etc. So, I seldom use them during a new project. I definitely keep ALL my cutoffs during a project until it is literally completely finished for exactly this reason. When I put away the scraps from the current project I work to eliminate existing scraps that are smaller than the ones I have. I have a large scrap barrel. I limit myself to that barrel so I things don't get out of control. I use scraps a lot for machine setup. Those get tossed for the new scraps.

That said, it sounds like you are having success using scraps, so I'd say keep on using them as long as you have room to keep them and it gives you satisfaction about being a good steward of resources.


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