Misc. Shop Stuff #51: Too Much Wood?

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 02-24-2015 09:30 PM 2274 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 50: New / Old Marking Knife Part 51 of Misc. Shop Stuff series Part 52: How to Stretch Table Legs »

Blogged on a range of topics here on LJs, but not touched on this one ever before: Shop Wood.
I’ve got it, let me tell ya.

Scraps of wood of all types, from any number of home renovations / tear downs / scavenger hunts over the past 30 years, have invaded my shop and have become quite the problem. And the first step to dealing with problems is admitting them, right? As I was piddling around in the shop last night, I came to realize having the material was not in itself a bad thing… It’s not having enough of any specific wood type that is crippling. How about some examples?

• Three pieces of 1×3 white pine, each about 5’ long;
• Two pieces of 5/8” yellow (lodgepole) pine, 10” across and 30” long; and
• Two pies of 1×4 doug fir, each around 4’ long.

And so on, and so on, and so on. Meaning scores of little boards and scraps of all shapes, sizes and materials…

If I were committed to doing something with this pile of material, it’d be colossal PITA… Thicknesses not consistent, not to mention checking on some edges and cupping on a couple of the boards. That, in addition to the varied grain patterns and colors makes for a disaster of a final product. I can’t do anything significant with this stuff, and I’m not one to come up with small things just for sake of using every scrap. I’ve kept these boards around for years, moved them several times, but there comes a point that is has to stop. Right?

So the .02 questions: Have you reached this point in your own shop, and what did you do as a result?

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

15 comments so far

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

4639 posts in 2338 days

#1 posted 02-24-2015 09:41 PM

I might eat the pies. But never had one made of doug fir. LOL

Generally I give scraps of pine to my wife to burn. But she wants hard wood because it burns hotter. Eventually I think you have to give up and make the sacrifice if you can’t store it. Give it to a youth group to use, put it out at a garage sale, etc.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View Don W's profile

Don W

19996 posts in 3628 days

#2 posted 02-24-2015 09:42 PM

A cold winter and a wood stove helps a lot.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2546 days

#3 posted 02-24-2015 09:45 PM

Burn it usually.

I Can use just about anything, but if it’s pine, which is easily acquired, I just burn it if sits around the shop too long.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4394 days

#4 posted 02-24-2015 10:07 PM

The single biggest problem I have in my shop is bits and pieces of wood and cut-offs Smitty. I think Don’s suggestion is the most practical one, but pine isn’t great in fireplace or oven as it leaves a coating on the inside of the chimney, besides I prefer to burn birch in the oven and some other woods smell bad while burning. My only suggestion would be to use those limited pieces for some small projects. Some day a smarter woodworker than myself (that includes most of LJ) will write a book on the subject with a lot of small project suggestions. It might help to keep in mind that a lot of nice stuff can be cut on the scroll saw including chess pieces, small boxes, letters and a few thousand other things. The problem is that we would have to take time out from the projects we really want to do for those small items.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View rhybeka's profile


5025 posts in 4182 days

#5 posted 02-24-2015 11:02 PM

Hm. When you find out let me know. I’m to that point as well Smitty – which I’m going to have to do something about when spring thaw comes. :\ Plane practice perhaps? depending on what’s out there :D

-- Beka/Becky - aspiring jill of all trades, still learning to not read the directions.

View Brit's profile


8318 posts in 3903 days

#6 posted 02-25-2015 12:15 AM

PM me your address Smitty and I’ll send a container lorry. Never had that problem Smitty and doubt I ever will. I don’t have space for a lot of wood, so I just don’t buy a lot of wood. I buy what I need and use most of what I buy. I would love to have your problem though. Every Monday morning I stand on the platform at my local backwater train station and gaze a six 20ft x 12” x 2” lengths of clear softwood that have been lying on the ground since last November. I can’t look at it without thinking workbench. It is left over from repairing the footbridge. I even asked the man at the ticket office what they were going to do with it and he said he didn’t know. I think if it is still there in another months time, it won’t be there in another two months time if you catch my drift. Mind you, I’ve got no idea how I would move it. I suppose I could put wheels on the ends of each plank and ride it home like a giant skateboard. :o)

Carve some spoons. There’s a lot to learn from carving a few spoons.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View putty's profile


1301 posts in 2667 days

#7 posted 02-25-2015 12:44 AM

Bundle it up, sell it at an auction as furniture grade hardwood and softwood. Take the proceeds and but a new tool.

-- Putty

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17298 posts in 3678 days

#8 posted 02-25-2015 02:41 AM

Andy, don’t you know anyone with a sharp handsaw that can cut those timbers to a more manageable size for transport?

I appreciate the ideas, everyone. I’m really trying to see drawer fronts, or shelves, or anything for that matter. So much of it was scrap when I found it, so using it for a back yard burn wouldn’t be a crime as it’s saved from a landfill. WE’ll see. I’ll do my best to make sure I really don’t have enough ‘like’ materials to use before burning, but that’s likely the route I’ll take.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View Brit's profile


8318 posts in 3903 days

#9 posted 02-25-2015 04:24 AM

I might do Smitty, but then I wouldn’t get a Guinness world record for the longest skateboard as well as some free wood. :o)

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3634 posts in 4773 days

#10 posted 02-25-2015 04:33 AM


I use it in place of plywood for shop cabinets where I don’t worry about perfectly matched grains. You’d be amazed how much you can use up that way. I’m not concerned if one drawer box is pine, another poplar and another is oak. If the fronts match, no one usually notices what is inside the shop cabinet. But I still have another 1000+ board feet of less-than-ideal hardwood (mostly oak) to use up on shop cabinets and I’m running out of projects.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View HickoryHill's profile


236 posts in 5206 days

#11 posted 02-25-2015 02:07 PM

I usually get to the point of burning it or throwing it away for the stuff not burnable. I tend not to be the one to let stuff linger terribly long…........woodworking or otherwise.

-- Jim, Michigan

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3927 days

#12 posted 02-25-2015 02:27 PM

The main thing that I did about it is to toss everything that is less than 3 ft long. I have a section in my large lumber rack where I can store these shorts vertically. I will store some of these for short periods of time in a few nooks and crannies but the minute they begin to bother me out they go if I can’t see that I will use them right around the corner. If you’ve got excess of this wood all over your shop it creates a fire hazard and other hazards, dust collects all over it, and it breeds disorganization and inefficient habits. All of this cost time. If I find that it cost too much of a loss by throwing it away then that means I need to build a shed to store this sort of thing in. Fortunately for me the waste dumpsters for our area are less than a mile from my shop.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View chrisstef's profile


18130 posts in 4066 days

#13 posted 02-25-2015 02:33 PM

Find someone who’s just getting into the craft and give it away to them to use, practice on, make mistakes with. I found this to be well serving when I moved houses last year. Those thin strips of purpleheart and walnut sap wood made a nice cutting board project for another LJ. You wont miss it and you’ll be extra excited when you see what someone else did with your scraps.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View arvanlaar's profile


40 posts in 2258 days

#14 posted 02-25-2015 02:59 PM

I have a 200sqft shop that is used to store a few things as well so its not only for working on projects. I tend to look to the ceiling for storage solutions. You can build racks out or pull down compartments to store things up there and that don’t take away from your workspace at floor level.

-- New to working and learning as much as I can :D

View john2005's profile


1768 posts in 3238 days

#15 posted 02-28-2015 02:29 AM

I hear ya Smitty. I started out with nothing by way of good wood so everything that was remotely decent I held on to. Now there are two or three boxes of cutoffs, the shelves are full and I had to add on to hold what I was accumulating. I found the small stuff I could glue together each holiday and turn it on the lathe, make “fancy” handles for things. People really like that and it doesn’t seem to take up too much time. But I need to get rid of it faster.
I’ll tell you what I quit doing was hanging on to anything with potential. Probably doesn’t help much, but if you find an answer, let me know.

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

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