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How much waste is acceptable?

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  • #16
    I think I have usually figured on 15%. I normally buy 15-20% more than I need in hardwood. I like to keep a few boards on hand for projects yet dreamed up. If I lived closer to a good lumber yard that might be different.

    I remember one time while I was building a gun cabinet for a friend that I had near 60% waste. I ripped all the pine boards for the glue-up panels and they decided to warp, curl, and twist. Had to re-buy that lumber.
    just another brick in the wall...


    • #17
      My question is what do you all do with the scrap? Is there a goto small project you build? Id like to use my off cuts on something useful, what do you do?


      • #18
        Depends on the size of the pieces. Long but skinny scraps become a) practice material for hand planes or b) pieces between the benchtop and a project piece to lift it for clamp clearance, saw/bit clearance, etc. Really long pieces get set aside as potential clamping cauls. Smaller and more squarish pieces get set aside to become clamp pads, cut up to make jig parts (e.g. the triangle shapes used to reinforce fences), etc. Some become material to practice other hand-tool operations with. If it's rather square in cross section - and bigger than about a 2x2 in cross section - it goes into the pile for the lathe. When some close friends are in town with their kids these scraps become their workpieces on the lathe or for hand-sawing.

        Scraps that are about the size of a paperback book and are flat get saved to become push blocks, backer boards, and sometimes setup blocks for tools - once I get some router bit dialed in "just right" for example it's handy to have a piece somewhere between deck-of-cards size and small-paperback-book-sized to run past that bit to make a setup block for future cuts. Labeling and "filing" that piece - so it can later be found when needed (that is if I remember it even exists) - is part of the process.

        Cutoffs from a project are really valuable when it comes time to do the finishing of that project: you want to be able to test the finish on a sample of the project material before actually exposing the project itself to a potentially wrong-color stain or whatever. It also lets you compare how the finish will look on the face grain vs. the end grain - again before you risk the project itself. I probably use up more project scrap this way. Even when I think "that's the right finish" I'll do one more just-in-case test on scrap when possible. As I try several finish methods, stain colors, etc. I WRITE DOWN the finishing steps on the backside - what sandpaper grit was used for the final sanding, if a wash coat or seal coat was used, the stain/color used, etc. - so I can reproduce that finish days or even weeks later as often it takes that long to get to that step. I write the steps on the sample pieces so once I have a few candidates I can let them dry for a few days, bring them into the house and view them under the actual lighting where the actual project will eventually live. Also, boards used in a project often have different colors even before you start the finish process... the scraps again let you see how uniform (or non-uniform) your finish concept is going to be.



        • #19
          As said above, they all have different uses. Long flat things often become edges, or a strip between two pieces glued up, and things like that. Or even a tiny box. Square long pieces may become contrasting corners, such as some 3/4" Bubinga leftovers that became corner legs on a small-ish box made from bird's eye maple. Or they could even become invisible but strong interior corner supports. My brother and I once had a scrap-off contest to see who could build the most stuff from two piles of identical scrap. That was fun. Business card holders, pen holders, etc all came out of it.

          I have fairly organized scrap storage now. When I was much less organized, the scrap became useless. The piece I needed was never visible. When I cleaned it up a few months ago, I realized there were so many pieces in there that I had needed along the way. So now it's organized with sheets visible by edge at least, long square stuff visible on the ends, and the oddballs scattered in a large tray under the miter saw so they can be picked through.