Utilitarian Projects #7: My cutoffs breed and multiply at night..........what's an LJ to do?

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Blog entry by Jim Bertelson posted 03-18-2013 12:02 AM 3549 reads 6 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Scrap Projects - Tall-Thin-Mobile Storage...and Ten Minute Projects Part 7 of Utilitarian Projects series no next part

My cutoffs breed and multiply at night…… yours?

Mine begged for a new home, so I started this cart about 8 months ago, then had about 6 months out of the shop due to some work related computer projects, and then today, I finished it. This is the detailed blog, later I’ll post a brief report as a project.

My cutoffs are now finally content……perhaps reborn, set for inclusion into new and exciting projects. Exciting is still an IN word, isn’t it? Feeling old and marginalized……..

Each shop has a unique assortment of cutoffs. They differ by size, type of product, and a personal view as to what should be tossed, and what should be retained. And I am sure, we all have used cardboard boxes either in the past or currently for their storage.

Having used cardboard box cutoff storage for awhile…….hmmmmmm… about 43 years, I have a real world understanding of the cost, utility, and frustrations of the boxes.

I know, you can see it coming, it is the Alaska Jim of old…..out comes the hidden engineer, and a warped sense of humor…….we are off and running………..(-:

OK, that is the last smiley, my LJ missives are always about smiles……..

So, you must sit back now, and reflect upon what really happens in the shop.

Cut a board, precise and smooth, hold it up to the light, no warp, no splintering…..Yes, just right.

Next board.

Damn, cutoff in the way!

Glance to the left, glance to the right, down at the feet……!.... there goes the cutoff in its fateful last journey…..destined for the garbage, for the fire……..poor cutoff……..or got lucky and into the cutoff bin.

The cutoff bin has got to be purgatory for cutoffs. Would you like to be a cutoff?

Will I be a part of a wonderful new project? Will I work my way to the bottom, kind of quiet, dusty, but still in contention? Will I be culled, off to land fill, or the crematorium……..?

OK, OK, OK….

To the practical side of things.

One, gotta save some to the cutoffs box. We all reach for cutoffs in nearly every project. If nothing else for a glue block, temporary jig, story stick, hidden structural member, etc.

But they take up space, and you can’t use, and don’t know what is at the bottom of, the box. Most of those bottom dwellers should be culled and discarded, but they are covered up by more recent stuff.

And then when you get old and lazy, you can’t bend down long enough to sort through the stuff in any case. So the bin gets progressively bigger, and at least percentage wise, progressively less useful.

So, not having unlimited space, I got serious about this cutoff stuff a while back, and analyzed the situation.

That’s me, pretending to be logical, and I is gonna ENGINEER a great new solution. I know, the ENGINEER moniker is over utilized, but it still makes me puff up a bit, and try to do my best.

Here are the issues:

Boxes of cutoffs are not easily searchable or moveable.

Boxes of cutoffs are on the floor, not good for old backs and feeble vision.

Boxes of cutoffs are not easily culled.

So…… to solutions:

Moveable means wheels.

Searchable means organization and that means categorization, and in real terms that means compartments.….and with old backs, compartments means moveable sections.


A cutoff cart with modules to organize and transport the cutoffs to the worksite for adding new cutoffs, selection, and culling.

Now, this is just a cutoff cart, not some fine piece of furniture, so we used salvaged and second rate lumber.

This cart could have quite a load, so it needs to be strong…….torsion box base.


Make a center section for taller items, and attach it to the box. Here we are upside down, drying from a Watco finish.

And with the wheels and rubberbabybuggybumpers attached………

Modules, size them to the projects I make, kinda small…. and make the modules moveable, with a handle that tilts them as you pick them up so the cutoffs don’t fall out……..


All the shelves, removable except for the bottom one (a structural member) canted to 10 degrees to keep the cutoffs in the module.

That’s pretty much the whole story. You can see how easy it is to move a module to the workbench or any convenient spot to accept new cutoffs, allow you to search for the right one, or to cull them out to make room for new ones.

My cart has a home underneath the extension for the table saw. Out of the way, but handy to the table saw and the radial arm saw.

I am going to set up a camera to record what happens at night in the shop. See if they really do breed and multiply……..I will report the results…….but we LJ’s already know…….

Fertile little suckers, aren’t they…………….

Alaska Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

27 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3867 days

#1 posted 03-18-2013 12:11 AM

now Jim , i will have to say that is one hell of a good cut off box, and you have it filled with some mighty fine cut offs, butt, let me say here just in case, now if those wooden bars on the top are removable, then i might say this wonderful box you have made could be converted into the fastest toilet paper rig ever rigged…three rolls on each side, while one is in use, the other three remain, and when the first three go, we can have some fully trained lumber jocks doing the quickest reload you have ever seen…....butt, until that day comes, may it quietly serve as the best cut off box ever. amen…....

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1590 posts in 4129 days

#2 posted 03-18-2013 12:26 AM

HA! Love it! I’ll go out on a limb here and bet some of the cut offs are from your cut off cart… oh the irony.

Good to see you’ve made it back out in the shop Jim.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3728 days

#3 posted 03-18-2013 12:27 AM

Well, Grizz, hadn’t thought much about…....HOW utilitarian this thing should be BUTT, you have made a helpful swipe at it, or two. Was not much in the plumber mode for this, but lets ROLL the rods and see what …......goes…......DOWN.

Thanks for viewing, good buddy, I love your projects, and you have developed a great style. Me…....I think I am still out of plumb, or not deep enuf into the GROOVE, or whatever.

Thinkin’ about being GROOVY..........

Your, way too close buddy,

Alaska Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3728 days

#4 posted 03-18-2013 12:32 AM

Hey TIM, you are way too smart!! Yup, these cutoffs are not only breeding they are incestuous.

I cut up about 5 cardboard boxes for recycling, and loaded up the cart. Still a lot of room.

I sure did like your new tools…....


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3867 days

#5 posted 03-18-2013 12:32 AM

GRIZZMAN….how deep is your love…..bruhaha….......good one jim…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10809 posts in 4616 days

#6 posted 03-18-2013 12:43 AM

Hi Jim,

That’s a good way to solve the problem…
... what happens when it gets full? LOL

Right now, I just have a few 5 gal buckets… rel small goes in one… Long stuff into another… etc…

Thank you for your ideas.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3728 days

#7 posted 03-18-2013 01:03 AM

Well, when they get full, it is time to cull, and this design makes that easy. Pick up a module, put it on the bench and sort it out. Threw out a bunch of stuff from the bottom of the boxes as I loaded it. One man’s cutoffs is another man’s lumber. I am into small projects, and have a few on the drawing boards.

Little over three weeks and I will be at the tulip festival in our vacation home. Looking forward to getting down there in the lower forty-eight.

Hope you and your lovely bride are well…....


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2618 days

#8 posted 03-18-2013 01:24 AM

Can i order three of those from you?

-- Joel

View lew's profile


12901 posts in 4319 days

#9 posted 03-18-2013 01:38 AM

Rubberbabybuggybumpers- easy for you to say!

I need one of these so badly but if I do, something else will have to go. There just isn’t any more room. I have even gone so far as to paste those Arthur Murray dancing feet onto the floor to figure out the best route from here to there.

Hope you and Sherie are in good health and will enjoy the relative warmth of the summer home!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3728 days

#10 posted 03-18-2013 02:09 AM

Wish I could send you a duplicate, but you would have to wait many years. That’s a problem with a lot of my projects, they take a while.

Thanks for viewing. This is a great solution for me, and I had the room under the TS extension. I see you made a sandpaper storage area….......this is that type of project.

I grew up in northern Minnesota, somewhat north of you. Now I live a long ways north of you.
Hope spring is on its way there, we are getting close…....


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3728 days

#11 posted 03-18-2013 02:14 AM

Ah hah. You spotted the ancient tongue twister. Yes, this project hinged on having room. Actually it doesn’t take any more room than the bloated boxes, so it is a winner.

We are looking forward to vacation again. Vacation calls stronger as I get older… you understand…....

It will be the Tulip Festival in La Conner, so it should be very pretty.
My youngest daughter, and her husband will join us for six days. It should be a lot of fun.

Have a good spring, hope the weather is dry, I suspect you don’t need a lot of water in the spring…...


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View oldnovice's profile


7511 posts in 3932 days

#12 posted 03-18-2013 04:40 AM

Jim, fresh cut offs have to be kept separated, at least overnight, otherwise they get board and, when they get board, they get into trouble!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3728 days

#13 posted 03-18-2013 04:48 AM


Ahhhh, thanks for the warning…......I shall segregate them forthwith.

Had a quiet weekend, which I needed. It has been pretty hectic at work lately….........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile (online now)


16872 posts in 3898 days

#14 posted 03-18-2013 10:08 AM

Congratulations on completing this fine and smart cutoff cart Jim. I have to admit that I am seeing this project with cynical eyes and pondering future negative outcomes, just like any longterm cutoff victim would. Don’t let that cart fool you. Those cutoffs will get you in the end! This advice is based on long experience. A woodworker would rather lose his right arm than his cutoffs because he knows that the minute he throws one away, he will need it 10 minutes later. On the other hand, if he keeps it, he will never need it! This is known as the ’Contradictory Cutoff Law’.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3959 days

#15 posted 03-18-2013 10:25 AM

I am as amused as anyone over the responses to this blog entry, but I fear my fellow lumberjocks have missed an important point.
It jumped out at me with alarming force.
I don’t know how it got passed over.


I’m worried about you, Jim. You are obviously in need of professional help.



-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

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