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Hardwood cut offs2/21
Our scrap bin is consistently filled with 4/4 x 2-3" x 6-10" ripped hardwood cut offs. Often, it's hard maple or cherry and it seems very wasteful to throw it away. After taking $40/hour labor costs into consideration, are there any products that can be made profitably from this scrap or are we economically correct in tossing it?
I was at Walnut Hollow in Dodgeville, WI a few years ago and they had very large metal baskets filled with such trim pieces (and many pieces larger than yours) that they sold by the pound. Of course, they had good traffic in the retail outlet store because of the excellent products they made, so these baskets were a side item.
Maybe you could have a lottery with ten baskets being first prize and then a new car being second, and so on in decreasing value.
I've given a lot of thought to this question and have come up with a number of things that can be done with cut offs. The issue usually is how can you make money handling them?
Some thoughts...Pen Blanks, Bread Boards, Drawer Fronts, CD/DVD Storage Containers, Picture Frames, Aprons and Tops for Small Tables, Plinth Blocks, Decorative Mouldings, Small Clock Housings, Tool/Knife Handles, Toys, Jewelry Boxes. Just a very small percentage of my list...
The issue I think is most shops are set up to produce a certain kind of work...like cabinets or flooring for instance. That might not readily translate into the right kind of setup to produce small items that might be mass produced somewhere else.
What you might look at doing is finding a way to donate the cut offs to schools with woodworking programs. You can't go wrong helping out schools.
Also, there are many woodworking groups/clubs/guilds in every state and many of them do charity work making toys to donate to needy families throughout the year. I'm sure if you hook up with one of those groups the wood could be put to use. It might not get you dollars today but it would support your community and might lead to business down the road as people remember your support.
Hope this is helpful...Allen
Thanks for the input. I know scrap wood will not make us rich, but I'd prefer not to toss hardwoods that could still make a beautiful product for us or someone else. I'll experiment with those ideas.
A lot of what Allen has said, and consider maybe making kits that include the wood needed and a copy of directions to make a project or two out of say a small sack of "scraps". I am thinking like an onion sack were you could see the peices of wood and maybe a small booklet with some arts and craft like projects.
Maybe have a small load of scraps ready to take around to an arts and craft show when one comes to town. Granted there are actually alot of imported wood items there that are mass produced, but you may be able to find an artist that is in the market for nice chunks of wood.
I have actually taken scraps to a couple of freinds houses around Xmas after cutting them up into "Playing Block" sized and shaped "Blocks". No paint, dye varnish or even sanding, just plain old pine and maple and maybe a couple of other hardwoods that were ready for the landfill. I guarentee that kids of all ages are happy to have three or four five gallon buckets of missles er... I mean building blocks to throw er... I mean stack. It's the parents that tend to toss them into the fireplace.
Be careful though, cutting small blocks even smaller can be more dangerous than you would think. And no I have never made a dime trying to make any of the arts and craftsy type stuff myself. My wife would buy a cutting board for $20 while I have wood rotting 50' from the back door. At $40 an hour you could probally ship it to some far away land and let them make it into sellable items and ship them back and turn a profit.
You could build a jig to take the maple and make some butcher block perhaps, but as soon as you do, you will never have the scrap to do it with again.
Good luck, I hope the wood finds a use if not a profit.
I keep seeing these posts about what to do with hardwood scraps - I've got my own collection. Here's a thought that could "burn up" a lot of mixed hardwood scraps - parquet flooring. There was an article in the most recent issue of Fine Homebuilding about making and installing flooring from what were essentially scraps. I know that strictly production-oriented folks aren't going to work with smaller pieces like that, but it might make an interesting sideline. The flooring looked nice, and it would accommodate mixed species as patterns and use up all but the smallest pieces. A couple of jigs, and you could use up your scrap and make any downtime productive. Just a thought....
I take some of mine, cut it into small chuncks (mostly cherry) on the bandsaw and use it in my grill to smoke meat.
I donate mine to a local retirement home with a wood shop. The old boys there think I am Santa Claus!
I don't know what you are refering to as cut offs, but anything 12" and over us die hard box makers drool over. It's hard to rationalize buying 8' of a prime cut when all you really want is 12-18 in. for a beautiful top or some inlay stuff.
One product to consider would be to make standard sized wood bricks that would have a small bevel edge on the top surface. These bricks when of a standard size can be used as flooring, wall paneling, surfaces on casegoods, etc. The idea is to glue them to a panel product like plywood, osb, etc. and create designs or just show the wood. Lots of design options and few machines are needed-chop saw, table saw, router table and hand sander. One would pick a width then make several length that work in a modular format, such as 4, 6, 8 and 12 inches long. Thicknesses could range from 1/4" to 3/4" in most cases. I have made doors using this concept on hollow plywood doors and the doors look great. Adds a handcraft look using scraps. As an alternative one does not have to have the bevel edge.