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Thread: What to do with cutoffs, etc

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Whidbey Island, Washington

    What to do with cutoffs, etc

    I suspect this is a common problem, but the pictures of your shops posted here never seem to be overflowing with short pieces of wood left over from prior projects. I seem to always have piles of short cutoffs laying around the shop, stacked on shelves, etc. I have one area of the shop set aside for sheet goods, and can't seem to get rid of anything smaller than 12" square. As for lumber, I seem to be constitutionally unable to get rid of anything less than 2' long, or even shorter if it's a nice hardwood. I still have little 3" x 5" pieces of exotics like ebony laying around.
    Maybe it's just that I'm a packrat, but how do you folks decide what to save for future use, and what to throw away or burn. (I do have a woodstove in the shop which helps with erasing mistakes ) I don't do a lot of intarsia or marguetry so I don't really need all the little pieces but you never know.

    Anyone have a "system" for making these tough choices?

    Dave Sharpe
    Whidbey Island, Washington

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I seem to remember various threads on this topic, but it's a good one that bears repeating. My current uses mostly have to do with my kids:

    -bird houses to build with the kids
    -things for the kids to play with -- egg-beater drill, hammer, a few nails and a pile of off-cuts equals about 2 hours of entertainment.

    I have a few small-ish pieces that I'm planning to make into small shop cabinets to hang chisels, files, screwdrives, etc.

    In the meantime, it just piles up.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Washington state
    I have a few boxes of small pieces of various species. Stuff like maple and birch usually get thrown into the fire in the winter, but the exotics tend to get used for box handles, trim, pens or given away to others who can use them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    My only advice is to do a rough sort when you discard, by having different containers for different types of discards (e.g., exotic hardwoods, other hardwoods, softwood, plywood, etc.)


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    St. Louis
    Give them to turners - we can always make pens, knobs and other things from cutoffs. Thats where mine go. If you don't want to give them away, make up a box full and try selling it on the classified forum.
    Where did I put that tape measure...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Monroe, MI
    I periodically clean them out and use them for bon fires. Small pieces of exotics (which I rarely use) go in a box. Anything under 2" wide I pretty much throw away anymore. Usually each project generates more small stuff than I can use on that project by the time I break stuff down.

  7. #7
    I have 4 boxes, one for hardwood, softwood and plywood, one for exotics and the last one is for really little stuff.

    When one gets full I go though and clean it out and only keep the best stuff. I don't worry about the width as much as the length, I can always you long skinny ones for inlays and things like that.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Southern Ontario Canada
    Being basically cheap I mean frugal I'll use the real small cut offs for earings like these. The grand daughters love them.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    I support the Pens for Canadian Peacekeepers project

  9. #9
    Dave last year I soo many cutoffs, I made about a dozen cutting boards for Christmas gifts, and the scrap I could not use I use to start fires in the fireplace. Try that!!
    Michael and Sally Pfau
    Grant Creek Woodworks
    Missoula Montana

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Glenmoore, PA
    Fireplace mostly with some pieces of exotics making it to a "gonna use it someday" box. Some pieces I just can't throw away or burn but the chance of my using them are almost 0%.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Blog Entries
    Segmented turning will get rid of a bunch of it but then you'll end up with more scrapps that are really small.
    What you listen to is your business....what you hear is ours.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Granbury, TX
    Slice them up into 3/4 by 3/4 by 6" pieces and offer them to someone helping out with the Freedom Pens Project.

    Use the really small ones for starting fires on Boy Scout campouts.
    Martin, Granbury, TX
    Student of the Shaker style

  13. #13
    I like to do these:

  14. My system is very sophisticated. I employ an archaeologically based filing system that used recursive energy flow back.

    It works like this. There is this space off the right rear of my saw. Things tend to fall there. I let them pile up and gravity keeps the pieces of wood from floating off into space. Eventually, I can't stand it any more and then it's kindling.

    An awful lot of the pieces get used in jugs fixtures and on little projects and bits.

  15. #15


    Here is what I do with some of mine.
    Rick Mellin

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