The Project that never comes

What to do with Scrap woodWoodworkers are notorious for saving every scrap of wood they can find.  Especially those exotics or pieces with unique, eye-catching grain patterns.  Then we save them for that special project, that project that is only worthy of our “special” wood.

As the days and months go by, we build project after project and think to ourselves, “Is this the right project for that special piece of wood?” you know, the one we have been saving for years now.  Of course, the answer is always no, and then we justify it with excuses of why we can’t use it.  The project would not do the piece justice; the piece would not do the project justice; too much waste would be created when we cut it, or I`m sure I can find a better, more special project to use it in.

Then we rack our brains trying to figure out the right project, but nothing ever comes to mind, or if something does come to mind, we never get around to building it.

Woodworking courses taught by master craftsman Brain Benham

My recent experience of moving from Oregon to Colorado has taught me that I need to be less protective of my scrap wood and just build something with it.  Prior to the move, the moving company sent out a list of things they do not move or charge extra to move.  One of which is building materials.  Looking at my shop, I had wood tucked away in every corner, crevasse, and cubbyhole I could find.  I started to panic, “what if they won’t move my precious wood!”  I concluded I needed to start building stuff with it.

My plan was to make production stuff that I could sell at craft bazaars, Saturday Markets, and the like.  I made cutting boards, jewelry boxes, Christmas ornaments, and wooden puzzle games to try to use up some of the scrap wood.  It was a liberating experience to find a use for all that scrap finally, and I ended up selling a bunch of projects, putting some much-needed cash in my pocket.

However, I still had a ton of wood left to move.  I went to work bundling, shrink-wrapping, and boxing up what I could in hopes that I could convince the movers to take it.  Luckily, the movers were impressed enough with my shop and woodworking projects that they were more than willing to help me save every scrap of wood I had.  That, and it didn`t hurt that they were paid by the pound, and all the weight of the wood added up to a nice paycheck for them.

Now, after it is all said and done, I have learned that we woodworkers as a whole need to quit stressing about what we are going to do with that special piece of wood.  Quit hoarding all our scrap pieces and just get out in the shop and build something.  Trust me, you will get a lot more enjoyment cutting into that prized piece of wood, making it into something more beautiful, than you will by stacking it in the corner and fretting over what to build out of it.  Trust me, that project will never come.

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

1 comment

  1. The main point in my view is that woodworkers should just use that unique piece immediately when they thought of something. Just do not save everything. It is a mistake. You could have an amazing idea, but leave it undone, because you are not sure what to use or just to save material.

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