Using Up Scrap Wood

Woodworkers and cabinetmakers share stories about turning their "drops" into extra cash. December 20, 2005

I've been the proud owner of my business for just over a year and I must say that if I could sell every piece of scrap I have I'd have a good chunk of change. Has anyone ever used the scrap to build things like small desks, file cabinets, etc and then advertised them for sale? Is this worth it or do you just fill the dumpster?

Forum Responses
(Business Forum)
From contributor A:
If you have a woodworking club in your area, they may pick up your hardwood end cuts for lathe turning or other craft oriented work. Price them to go! Another good way to avoid losing money on drops is to donate them to a community college or other local educational shop. They enjoy free stuff no matter what it is, and you can write it off at what you paid.

From contributor B:
A couple of years ago I had enough odd-n-end slides and enough pine piled up to build a few chests of drawers. They sold fast @ $160. Within the next 2 weeks sold about 12 more plus some dressers, night stands etc. - all unfinished pine. From that I was offered a contract to supply 100 children’s chairs per month to a retailer, but I backed out for various reasons. I think virtually any shop can sell what you build. It's all in marketing and exposure, and luck never hurts. I keep saying I'll do that again when I get around to it. Right now I'm still selling small scrap to bird house/feeder builders for $5/load. This keeps trips to the dumpster down.

From contributor C:We use virtually all our scrap for one thing or another, it depends on the usable size and quality. Often we'll use fall-offs to make cutting boards or breadboxes, something nice and homey to give to the customer as a thank you at the end of the project. They love that it matches the species of their new kitchen, and I can't count how many referrals we've gotten just for doing little things like this. Not a bad return for a couple hours work and some scrap wood.

From contributor D:We lease our building from a former machine shop, and they left a bunch of those wire type collapsible metal bins. We put our blocks and cutoffs in them instead of the dumpster and set them out front by the road. We have an honor mailbox and ask for $5 per bin. We make enough a week to pay the dumpster bill for the rest of the garbage. We also sell off our shaving to local horse farmers for $3 per bag. I have a 6 month waiting list to get on the waiting list to buy them. Too bad I couldn't make money making just sawdust!

From contributor E:I like the gift idea. I want to turn pens and give them at the end of the contract. I just have not gotten around to getting a mini lathe yet. In my area there are a lot of retired folks. They try to supplement their income by going to craft shows. I have a box I put all my scraps in and when it's full I call them on a rotating basis. They appreciate it and most have brought me little things they make to say thank you. It does not cost me a dime and I believe all businesses should do what they can to make the world a little better by helping those in need.