Save Timber by Using Offcuts

Monday 9 July 2018

How many times have we thrown a corner away from a bowl that we have just cut on the bandsaw? Or a strip of plank? It's important to know that we can use the offcuts for smaller projects as needed, which means no need to spend more money on buying small pieces of timber. All the small items I make and sell come from offcuts, so the cost of timber is effectively nothing, as this has been worked into the price of the main item that the offcuts came from.

What to save

Here is a selection of offcuts; some are corners from when I have cut bowl blanks, and others from a side of a plank. If I am cutting a circle for a bowl blank I keep the corner, but only on bowls 200mm (8in) upwards; saving smaller pieces of timber is not worth the time involved or the cost of a new bandsaw blade. I will always keep timber which shows interesting grain patterns.

Marking the corners up

I will sometimes mark up the corner to see how to get the most useable pieces out, depending on what project I have in mind at the time. This may be the largest piece I can cut out of the corner, or if I am looking for small project items such as cord pulls, bottle stoppers or pen blanks, I will look to achieve the most out of the piece.

Bandsawing the corners

So we have marked up the corner and we want to cut it to size. When cutting on the bandsaw use push sticks, as small pieces mean that you're cutting near the blade. I use at least one on small items, and on very small or oddly shaped items, I use two push sticks. Plan ahead – think how the timber will react when it comes into contact with the rotating bandsaw blade.

A selection of useful timber

Here is a selection of the timber I have saved from the sorts of corners and strips which often get thrown away. All of this will be made into projects. Cutting up the waste corners and strips can, and has, paid for the timber I have bought throughout the year, as well as my bandsaw blades. You could say my timber costs for the year are nil; I like the sound of that!