Branching Out Wood

Modern Functional Home Decor by David Wertheimer

Every Last Scrap

SustainabilityDavid Wertheimer3 Comments

Maybe it's the environmentalist in me (or packrat or cheapskate?) not wanting to throw anything potentially useful out. Maybe it's from years at Google trying partnering with others on how to utilize otherwise "wasted" computer cycles in the datacenters. Or maybe its just excitement at creating new things that - at least so far - have gotten positive reactions and enthusiasm.

The Problem

First, let me back up a little. Though I've only had this business going since the tail end of last year, I've been woodworking with beautiful hardwoods for close to fifteen years. I'm happy to have a campfire with scrap pine and perhaps even redwood and oak, and of course, the scrap treated wood, MDF / particle board, and plywood go into the trash.

But I've been slowly but surely accumulating scrap walnut, maple, padauk, and so forth over the years, with one box hiding in the corner of my workspace ballooning now into three, and with no sign of letting up. These are pieces too small to make a lamp or shelf with, but yet too beautiful to burn or toss.

I've been making small samples available as trinkets for the kids that need something in their hands at the shows (and also for the adults) - better to fumble with a 1" sample of wood than a glass light bulb - but it will take more than a few years to get through about 90# of scrap I already have, not to mention the flow of new additions to that heap. What's a carpenter to do?

The Solution

I was incredibly excited for two recent ideas to start making good use of this material. A few weeks ago, I shared one of those ideas with the "backlit base" concept, in "The Evolution of an Idea" post. The other idea, for which the original inspiration goes to my cousin Emily, is buttons, for those who knit or sew hats, sweaters, and the like for gifts, looking for a similarly unique and decorative way to adorn their handiwork.

The Outreach

Though it's a lot of buttons and backlights to make to whittle down those three boxes of scrap, I'm committed to using every last ounce.

So I welcome other suggestions from folks with this problem - and with a similar design aesthetic. I love making this stuff, and I love being efficient and not wasting this beautiful wood. What would you do with your cut offs and mistakes? Or do you have some scrap that you'd like to see turned into something you and others can appreciate? Reach out over email or otherwise - I'd love to hear your ideas.