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Garbage in ...

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What’s the best thing you’ve ever pulled out of the trash and turned into treasure? I’ve talked before about recycling and re-use of old woodworking stuff, using it for raw materials or turning it into something new and good. I’d like to take that theme a bit further and extend it to outright trash, stuff that someone has literally tossed out because it was, to them, garbage.

What got me to thinking about this is a post I saw on one of the woodworking forums in the last few days. The poster found a sheet of good-quality phenolic material in a landfill that was large enough to make not one, but two router extension tables for his table saw – he installed one on the left and one on the right. This strikes me as an incredibly lucky find.

The closest I’ve ever come to this was a half-dozen discarded (or maybe they were just forgotten) shelves from a utility closet at a previous job. It’s been a few years, but I seem to recall that someone decided to use them to change the purpose of the closet to storing something tall. They removed the shelves in the thought that they’d never be used again, and thus labeled them with a Post It note that said something like, “Maintenance—take to dumpster.” I decided to do the poor maintenance guy a favor and tote those things to the dumpster for him. However, since my car was parked on the way to the dumpster, I dropped them off there instead. The aim of the discarder’s note was disposal, and it seems to me that putting them in the back of my car accomplished that goal.

These were top-quality, 3/4” Baltic birch sheets with solid-wood edges, already finished on both sides, and each measured about 3’x4’. Do the math on that and it’s clear that I scored 72 sq. ft. of great stock. I’ve used these for all sorts of things over the years, and still have one left.

So my question to you is, what’s the best score you ever made from someone else’s trash?

Till next time,


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