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Thread: What to do with shorts and scraps?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    What to do with shorts and scraps?

    Like many, I have an abundance of short lengths of stock that are the result of cut offs and such. Most is decent wood and I can't bear to just burn it up. With the price of lumber these days I'd like to use it on something. Any suggestions for fun little projects that utilize smaller pieces of wood?
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  2. #2
    I glue it up into strips 3" wide and then plane it. When I have enough I glue them into cutting boards. At some point with too much and too short you gotta give it up.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2007
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    +1 on cutting boards. I also use them for segmented bowls and "dizzy" bowls like this one.

    interior_1_small.jpg
    Grant
    Ottawa ON

  4. #4
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    I use scraps down to a pretty small size (3/4"x1-1/8"x2" or so) and some thin strips for what I make. I keep a box in the shop for scraps that are too small for my use but too nice to burn in the boiler. Sometimes I pull a piece back out of there when I find I need a little piece for something, and when it gets full I take it upstairs and get a new box. When I have 3 or 4 boxes worth I put them on the Free section on Craigslist and someone always comes and is glad to have them. Often people say they can use some of the pieces and they know people who can use some of the others. When I started buying curly maple from Bell Forest Products I sold all my remaining small scraps of curly maple for $20 so that I could just use the new wood that matches. It took a few days to find a buyer who could use the short or flawed boards I had, but they were happy and so was I. It seems to me that it is good to utilize as much of the wood in a board as possible, even if it's not a money-making proposition.

  5. #5
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    Good suggestions Zachary. I've thought about reaching out to a local craft guild or other collective that might use the small stuff. Some of the pieces are highly figured. They'd make good material for key fobs, letter openers, pen blanks, knife scales, earrings, and that sort of thing. Someone that does Marquetry could likely use this stuff too.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  6. #6
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    I'm feeling really sad right now about this topic because I literally just had to "get rid of" 1200 lbs of excess material which included 90% of my "shorts" and cutoffs. The only things I kept were certain exotics and a few other odds and ends...all of which still has to go in storage for awhile until I get a new shop built. I don't like to throw good material out and have found over the years that all those various bits often come in handy...not just for "small projects" but in support of larger ones where one needs "bits" to complete or adjust or embellish. They became even more valuable when I got the CNC because the "flat shorts" were usable for a wide variety of personalized things as well as for utility like custom hold-down fixtures.

    So the bright thing here is that I'm really happy that you're asking this question...good material is good material, no matter what the size...and it's far better to be used than head to recycling or the landfill.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
    Whittling! As a kid I bought little cutoffs for carving. I was an idiot about how shops with wood stoves worked.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Columbus, OH
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    Our local woodworking club cuts scraps into building blocks and donates them to the local Head Start programs.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    Exeter, CA
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    What do I do with my off cuts? Right now I have 3 boxes on HF dollies and two 30 gallon barrels full (also on HF dollies) along with lots of other storage. Way too much, on wheels so I can keep moving it around to get it out of the way. Can't bear to get rid of it. Use it when I can. For my true scraps that aren't usable for anything else, take to my cabin and burn in my wood stove. Randy
    Last edited by Randall J Cox; 06-07-2021 at 9:56 AM. Reason: clarity
    Randy Cox
    Lt Colonel, USAF (ret.)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Toronto Ontario
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Luter View Post
    Like many, I have an abundance of short lengths of stock that are the result of cut offs and such. Most is decent wood and I can't bear to just burn it up. With the price of lumber these days I'd like to use it on something. Any suggestions for fun little projects that utilize smaller pieces of wood?
    Wood for smoking food if they're nice flavoured wood, or if cedar, make planked salmon.

    regards, Rod.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    Northern California
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    For pieces that I deem too small or with a defect that prevents reuse, I put a heavy/medium grit on my belt or random orbit sander, attach the dust bag (not shop vac) and create a bagful of sawdust of the same wood. I then empty the bag into glass jars dedicated to that wood. If I need a filler, I mix up a batch and have an exact match for the type of wood Iím using.

    Small cutoffs are also useful for creating shims, doorstops, handles and knobs.

  12. #12
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Luter View Post
    Like many, I have an abundance of short lengths of stock that are the result of cut offs and such. Most is decent wood and I can't bear to just burn it up. With the price of lumber these days I'd like to use it on something. Any suggestions for fun little projects that utilize smaller pieces of wood?
    I also use them for woodturning. Any woodturning club will likely have turners who do segmented work who would love to have offcuts.
    My good friend Frank Penta makes good use of small pieces in woodturnings: http://www.frankpenta.com/index.php/...5?limitstart=0
    I knew a guy who made a bunch of cutting boards by gluing up small pieces.

    Many turning clubs including ours make pens to donate to active servicemen through Pens for the Troops. I've made many 100s of pen blanks 3/4" square by 5" long for this, often out small pieces of nice woods like cocobolo, zebrano, olive, spalted wood, and burls.

    And if you find yourself with more pieces than you can use: I have taken tubs of small and thin offcuts to the art teachers at high schools - a variety of pieces can inspire creativity in students. Even plywood was welcome - I have cut scraps of radiata pine plywood into pieces say 6x6" or so and even young kids LOVE to draw on them with markers. I've taken boxes of those to kindergartners.

    This a self portrait my own grandson did when he saw a pile of small squares in the shop and asked if he could draw on one. He said he has fire coming from his feet and lightning from his hands. He was 3 at the time.

    Alex_portrait_IMG_20150417_102011_473-1_e.jpg

    JKJ

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    New Westminster BC
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    I use my shorts and scrap wood to make kid's toys for Christmas toy drives including, toy cars, baby rattles, pull toys, tug boats, stacking cats, wooden building blocks, balance games, Tangram puzzles etc. Almost everything I make starts with pieces less than a foot long.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Shenandoah Valley in Virginia
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    I normally cut them into pen blanks or other sizes that can be turned... give to grandsons for pens or to clubs...
    For years made lincoln log pieces for grandsons.... they could fill rooms with buildings and loved them...
    Also made building blocks for them... squares, triangles, circles, etc....


    Think I will start making them again and give to local organizations that work with small kids!!
    Thank you for asking as never thought of doing that until now.....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Cincinnati, OH
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    I also hate to throw away something that is potentially useful. However, I do use some scraps for kindling especially narrow pieces from rough cut lumber. I make small boxes with the nicer pieces.
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

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