Flipping through channels the other day I happened upon one of those shows that examines the lives of hoarders. Immediately, I jumped up and headed to the shop.
I have a hoarding problem when it comes to lumber. Not new, complete pieces of stock, but scrap.
Yes, I’ve written multiple times about the many uses of scrap lumber, but there are limitations. And exceptions – I recommend keeping scrap pieces of exotic wood, no matter the size. Even miniscule pieces can be used for accents, etc.
Back to the shop. I started surveying the space. I keep a relatively clean and organized shop (it is after all, shared space with the rest of the family), but it could be better.
Scrap has a tendency to creep into places it shouldn’t and take over otherwise perfect open space. I find scrap in odd places at times – any area I worked briefly on a project where I used a piece as a spacer for example. Perhaps I just forgot it was there, or I had some grand plan for that little piece.
Ah, there is the crux of the matter. I recall that brief couple of minutes of watching the hoarder. She begged her husband to be careful when moving part of a 4-foot-high pile because something in that pile could be used one day. She didn’t know what, or when, but some day…
And there’s my point. Yes, someday I may use that piece of scrap as one little component in a project…but today, I need to keep the clutter at a minimum. It’s depressing and overwhelming to see so many little bits of clutter, especially to non-woodworkers. I see the potential, but it’s not healthy to work in that environment.
So what to do? As long as it’s not pine, fir, cedar, or has a finish or glue on it, burn it in the fireplace or use it properly in a bonfire. Check with friends and coworkers to see if they need lumber for a project. Check with fellow woodworkers. Have a garage sale and put the lumber in a bin with a sign reading “Free” – or even put it out by the curb (if you neighborhood allows). I’ve had great success with eliminating scrap lumber by putting it out by the curb.
But the best step is to toss scrap when you create it. I “try” to follow a “catch-and-release” policy. If the scrap is smaller than a certain size, it gets thrown “back” – simply tossed.