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Scrapped out

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My scrap situation finally reached critical mass. I hated to do it, but I had no choice: I needed the room so the scrap had to go.

I’ve always maintained there’s no such thing as scrap, that every last piece of wood is useful. But last June after spending hours relocating one of my several scrap caches, I knew I’d eventually have to deal with it on a more permanent basis. But, as with many things on a woodworker’s to-do list of onerous projects, I put it off.

Since then I got a new floor model drill press to replace a smaller benchtop machine. No matter where I put it, and despite that it has a mobile base, it was in the way. I had to find a permanent parking spot for it. The best place for a floor drill press is in a corner, but of the four corners in my shop, three have scrap piles (the fourth has steps and a door into the house).

So, that was it. A scrap pile – my largest, as it turned out – had to go. I made a quick call to the local scout troop to see if they needed some wood, but they didn’t. With nothing else to do with it but toss into the trash, I decided my artillery reenacting unit could use it for firewood. My group restored an old cabin at a local historic site, where we frequently build a fire. In fact, our annual Christmas living history event is coming up, and we need a ton of wood. So I began culling and cutting, not just from the stuff in that corner, but from all my other scrap piles as well. That’s the thing about hard cleaning: After a couple of hours of being careful about what you keep and what you toss, you really start not caring all that much. The more tired I got, the more scrap got tossed.

By the time I was done, I had taken two full carloads, with the seats all folded down, of scrap wood up to the cabin. While I couldn’t begin to do the math to figure out the board footage from all those cutoffs and pieces, my wife (who helped me load up the car each time) figured I managed to get rid of between 500 and 600 pounds of wood.

Although that old wood won’t go to new projects, it’ll still be useful. We’ll be warm and toasty next month around the campfire at our Christmas event, and I cleared away an entire corner of my shop where the new drill press now resides.

The best part is that scrap is a self-renewing natural resource. I doubt I’ll have time to even miss the old scrap before I have a nice pile of brand new stuff accumulated.



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Scrap process

I’ve said here at least a dozen times over the years that there’s no such thing as scrap. There is, however, wood that’s just not very useful.