Setting Up Shop #2: What do YOU do with your scraps?

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Blog entry by MoshupTrail posted 09-18-2011 09:37 PM 2486 reads 0 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: How to get a 500 lb table saw out of your truck - alone Part 2 of Setting Up Shop series Part 3: Getting Started »

I checked and it’s been about 6 months since we had a “scraps” discussion on LJ’s. I learned I’m not alone in this: I can’t bear to throw away odd scraps and cutoffs. But they make a huge mess in my shop. I started with a small box (lower left) and then I added another box (right) and then I just gave up :)

So there are two questions: What uses do you find for scraps? and How do you keep your shop neat?

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

25 comments so far

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 4095 days

#1 posted 09-18-2011 10:03 PM

They do make a mess, I trip over them constantly. Burn a lot, throw away some (sheetgoods). Probably need to come up with some sort of project or another home for them. They are a nuissance.

View JRL's profile


104 posts in 4036 days

#2 posted 09-19-2011 01:10 AM

I think you had the right idea. Sorting them out and boxing or bundling them gets them out of the way.
I have an expiration rule for pieces that I think might be useful: If they go unused for 2 years, out they go. I don’t follow that rule perfectly but haven’t regretted throwing out a bunch of pieces which violated the 2 year loitering rule.

-- Jay in Changsha

View Michael1's profile


403 posts in 4157 days

#3 posted 09-19-2011 01:11 AM

I started taking mine and using them to make segmented wood turnings. The small stuff makes good kindling to get the fire going in the wintertime too. However The problem is storage so you know what you have and can get to it when needed. I tried the scrap box under the chop saw but as if fills it is too much of a pain and messy to look through. I just moved into a new shop this week and started a new system. The shop came with an existing storage rack about 2 ft deep, 6 foot high and 8 feet long with shelves about every 18”. I tool a binch of boxes and turned them on there sides and stacked scraps in each pox segregated by wood species. It doesn’t look too bad and It quicky is filling up as I sort through all the crap I had in my old shop. Hopefully I can keep it organized this way and be able to use it up and not have to dig into the premium lumber for small pieces.

-- Michael Mills, North Carolina,

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4339 days

#4 posted 09-19-2011 01:25 AM

LOL, strange how every piece is valuable. If it catches my eye it stays. I have way too much wood I will use someday. Now it is piled on the wood I need today. I like the two year rule. I have a piece of pine which came from shipping crates in WWII that was part of my Dad”s stockpile. He told me the wood from the crates was better than what could be bought at the lumber yard due to the war.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View MoshupTrail's profile


304 posts in 3978 days

#5 posted 09-19-2011 01:40 AM

Doc – In my case It’s because I love the wood. I just KNOW I’ll eventually find a use for each piece. And the process of carpentry is really kind of wasteful. We take away so much material just to make a tiny apron or stile or drawer front. I actually feel guilty sometimes! So throwing the scraps into a bin is a way to reduce the waste.

The two-year rule sounds good, but so does sorting by size. I’m more likely to use a piece if I can lay my hands on the right size quickly. I can usually tell the species (I only work with a few) so no need to sort that way.

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View Carl Fisher's profile

Carl Fisher

53 posts in 3972 days

#6 posted 09-19-2011 01:59 AM

Hrmm, I see a lot of nice pen blanks and other segmented turning goodies in that pile :)

-- Carl Fisher, Fort Mill, South Carolina --

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 4333 days

#7 posted 09-19-2011 02:09 AM

I use mine up with test cuts and practice cuts, usually a depth of cut test takes up the most; thin pieces test the evenness of the blade adjustment on planes. Then I try to add accents to many of my pieces or experiment with cutting small decorative pieces with some of it. Finally, I haven’t got a lot of money to spare on lumber so I’m frugal with my cutting to avoid creating any unnecessary scraps and usually examine the wood closely to avoid defects that will prevent optimizing closely sized pieces. If the needed board is 6” wide I won’t go more then 6.5”, same with length; I don’t have cut offs longer then a foot and many such pieces will end up as a cutting board. Considering the cost of wood every wasted scrap is a loss of good money.

-- A posse ad esse

View cutmantom's profile


408 posts in 4532 days

#8 posted 09-19-2011 02:16 AM

try to set a rule as to what size is small enough to throw out unless it a “special piece” or just get rid of half of it and wait till the pile grows again, it can be hopeless, i have a piece of 1/2 plywood from my first kitchen cabinet job 15 years ago

View kjf48197's profile


27 posts in 4185 days

#9 posted 09-19-2011 02:16 AM

I use mine for laminated mallet and chisel handles. I have also made a marking gauge or two and a center finder for the lathe and some wedges. I was thinking of using some of them for segmented wooden bracelets, coffee scoops and some other small turning projects this fall. I will usually burn them when they are to small to work safely with any tools.

View DamnYankee's profile


3320 posts in 4059 days

#10 posted 09-19-2011 02:22 AM

Actually I started the discussion a mere 41 days ago :)

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3984 days

#11 posted 09-19-2011 02:42 AM

I have 30 pack beer boxes… dunno where they came from. I think they are born spontaneously when I get too many cold adult beverages out of the fridge.
Right now there are 6 different boxes for stuff under 24”. If it’s longer it’s no longer scrap.
As I find them I fill them with different sizes and species of scrap. Some of my wood is green resaw that needs to season, some is store bought, some is local KD, Osage, Walnut, Chinaberry, Pecan, Cedar, Loblolly, SYP, among others.
I just hate throwing anything over 6” long or 1 1/2” wide into the fire unless it’s full of bugs or rot.
small blocks of wood get saved in some plastic gallon jugs to use for glue-up and making gussets on cabinets.

Now to convince the wife that I need to make some more empty beer boxes…... any one want to help?

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View MoshupTrail's profile


304 posts in 3978 days

#12 posted 09-19-2011 02:47 AM

@DYankee – LOL! Sorry about that. I did a search for “scraps” and believe it or not, your blog post did not come up. So I thought I had done my homework. Not sure what’s going on – but I just tried again and found another one, 42 days old;

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4734 days

#13 posted 09-19-2011 03:00 AM

I generate so much scrap I can’t keep everything. Some I give away, other stuff that I know I’m not going to use gets burned. You can see most of the scrap are slabs from the outside of a log and this one was rotten, so it’s not very useful. The big chunk of cherry could have been used to make a bowl, but no one was around that wanted to make a bowl at the time. Anybody that wants some slabs, I’m sawing tomorrow and there will be a fire tomorrow night to get rid of the scraps. Get here before then and you can have all you want.

This time of year, the weather is getting cooler and it makes a nice place to sit in the evening and plan what I’m going to do tomorrow. Plus the colors are just so pretty.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View MoshupTrail's profile


304 posts in 3978 days

#14 posted 09-19-2011 03:20 AM

Slabs from milling are great for firewood. Although I’ve also used them to hold down soil on a steep slope. I have some rather nice seating around the place.

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View rance's profile


4282 posts in 4657 days

#15 posted 09-19-2011 03:48 AM

That’s what my Favorites link is for. To let me know what to work on or build from scraps.

QUICK, someone needs to go by Hal’s place and relieve him of some of that exotic firewood. SERIOUSLY!!! :)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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