11 Easy Ways to Conserve Resources as a Woodworker

How to Make Ethical Decisions about Wood and Still Enjoy Woodworking and Making Projects

This is 11 Easy Ways to Conserve Resources as a Woodworker. Here you will learn that you can work with wood, and still conserve resources. There are a lot of simple tricks in the post, and if you are concerned about your footprint, these can help you.

Woodworking and Natural Resources

11-easy-ways-to-conserve-resources-as-a-woodworker-woodworking-tipsWood is a natural resource. It is a beautiful, diverse…and finite resource. Even though we plant trees far more than ever before, we still seem to use them faster than we plant them in many cases.

If you are concerned about the amount of resources you use, you can still be a woodworker by making good choices. Resources are resources, so if you are very rigid in your beliefs this may not be a perfect answer, but it is still an answer.

If you want to use wood as your creative medium and also want to leave a light footprint, the following eleven ways will help you…

Use Reclaimed Wood

One of the easiest things you can do in order to prevent wasting resources is to use reclaimed wood. This kind of wood is sourced from a lot of different places, and is called such because it has been used once before.

Reclaimed wood is taken from old buildings, structures, fences, barns, and anything that once stood and had to be knocked down. The material is sometimes worked after harvesting, but sometimes not. It depends on the source.

When you buy reclaimed wood, you are using material that was once in use before, and does not require felling another tree. This means you get to use wood for your projects, but you don’t contribute to more trees being cut down. In fact, the tree you are using may have even been cut down before you were born.

Also, reclaimed wood has an interesting story to it many times. You can get wood from barns that are several hundred years old. You can also find wood that was used in farming, old buildings, and historical sites. When you tell someone your bread box is built with wine barrel staves from a hundred year old winery, it has a lot better story.

See Also: 13 Woodworking Ideas to Help Any Beginner

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Use Abundant Wood Species

Another good choice for conserving resources is to use wood types that are abundant. There are types of wood that are very common, and grow quickly. This is typically construction grade wood, but depending on where you live in the world, what is common to you might seem exotic to others.

In America, using Pine, Fir, or Oak accomplishes the task, because all three are abundant in the area. When you use this wood, you are not endangering the life of the species, because you are only taking a tiny sliver of a huge amount of available trees.

On the other hand, when you use very exotic and rare wood types, your contribution to the extinction of that species is much higher. The rarer the wood, the more of an impact you will have when you use it.

See Also: A Beginners Guide to Woodworking

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Source Ethically From Approved Sources

When you by wood, and you want to know that you are not harming the environment, make to buy from ethical sources. Nearly any store that you buy from in America is a good source, because it is difficult to get wood from illegal sellers anymore.

However, when you buy online, you might not know what you are buying, or where you are getting it from. It’s important to think about what you are buying, and make sure that you are not getting more than you asked for.

Look for signs that the place you are buying from is legitimate. Also, look for reviews, and look up their building on Google Maps. Look for clues that the business might be shady, and avoid places that cannot tell you where they get their wood from.

The reason you want to be sure you are getting your wood from a good source is that there are still wood poachers in the world, and they take rare and exotic trees illegally. This is a big problem for the local areas that are stolen from, and even though they lose the tree, they receive no benefit from it.

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Use Pallet Wood Found Locally

Pallets are all the rage right now in DIY woodworking. You can make a lot of great projects from pallets, and one of the most attractive parts of the entire process is that the wood is free. When you use pallets, you are using wood that does not take trees to replace.

Most shops and retailers throw away their pallets when they are done with them. This means the next time they need more, they come in on the truck or they buy more. Since the pallet is destined for the trash, you taking it out and saving it means you are conserving resources.

If you want to know more about pallet construction, you can see a lot of it online, especially on sites like Pinterest. Pallet projects are fun, easy, and all you have to do is harvest the wood first. This saves trees, and the environment.

See Also: 15 Important Tips on Woodworking With Pallets

Harvest Wood From Already Built Pieces

This one takes a little more effort, but you can harvest wood from existing pieces of furniture and wooden objects. A lot of older furniture has solid panels, drawer faces, and other areas where you can get bigger pieces of real wood.

When you find a piece like this, and save it from the trash, you are saving trees as well. If you harvest from a large dresser or chest, you can get a lot of great woodworking wood that will last you a while depending on what you make.

The hidden benefit from taking older pieces of furniture and things like it apart means you get free education. As you dissect the piece, you get to see how it’s made, and learn about woodworking in the process.

See Also: 29 Ways to Maximize Your Woodworking Shop Layout

Keep a Scrap Bin and Use It

Conservation does not have to always come from outside, it can come from inside too. If you look at how your shop operates, you can surely find some ways that you can make what you have last longer and work better.

A scrap bin is a perfect example. When you keep a scrap bin, and use the pieces from it, you are taking steps towards being ethical with your resources. You only need to buy wood when you run out, keeping a scrap bin means less trips to the store.

It’s a shame to have to buy a whole piece of wood to cut off a small piece. When you keep a scrap bin, you have all of that wood right within reach. The next time you need a smaller piece, you will have it right in the bin, and will need to buy less wood.

See Also: Woodworking Tips Cards – Save Your Scraps

Salvage Wood From Around Town

A quick drive around town can reveal a lot of places that you can find wood for your projects, and all of it will be salvage. It takes a little work, but you can drive through different areas of town, and look for things being thrown away.

When you find wooden objects being tossed, take them home. You will have to go through them and cut apart the pieces you can use, and then you have more free wood. If you harvest from furniture, you will also get handles, hardware, hinges, and other thing too.

This is not a quick or easy process to do in a day. If you know where bulk trash pickups are being handled, you can get a lot of bang in one day, but this process is much better as an ongoing thing that you just do all the time.

Make it a point when you are out to look around. Don’t crash your car looking for wood, but pay attention to things that you see on the side of the road. If you do this daily, over time you will find a lot of wood to use. You just have to look.

See Also: A Woodworking Notebook – Your Personal Journey in Woodworking

Buy Wood Online Second Hand

There is a huge online community of people that sell things. They can sometimes be things that they don’t want, Or sometimes it’s things they don’t use anymore. Either way, you can win big and conserve resources when you find wood online.

The second hand markets and buy/sell/trade sites often have free sections that are commonly filled with items that people are giving away. You can look for wood on these sites, and you might be lucky to find a pile of free materials.

Even if you have to pay for it, you will typically get a deal, and you will also be using wood that was already bought once. This means the wood is not a waste, and does not require cutting down another tree to produce.

Be careful as always meeting people online. Axe murderers and tree cutters both use axes, and there is no amount of wood worth your safety. Take basic precautions like bringing someone with you and letting someone know where you will be.

See Also: Where to Take Woodworking Classes

Use Plywood and Manufactured Wood

Another way to conserve is to use wood that is made through manufacturing. There are a lot of alternatives to natural wood and many of them also conserve even further in the process that they are made. Plywood, MDF, and particle board are examples.

There are several kinds of manufactured boards, and they are al made in an effort to turn nearly useless materials into sellable materials. Plywood is a way of creating a thicker and larger board for a much lower price than solid wood, and that is only one example.

Oriented Strand Board is a type of manufactured wood that is made from many different chunks of wood, all pressed together with glue. Particle board is another example, and then MDF. The particle size is smaller in particle board, and dust in MDF.

See Also: Discovering Wood in a Hardwood Store

Use Veneer Faced Plywood Instead of Solid Wood

For those of you that are making furniture and you want to have a solid wood look without the consumption that solid wood entails, you can use veneer faced plywood. This is not hardware store plywood. It is a special material that you will have to go a woodworking store to get.

Plywood backing is all about the same, the difference is the wood layer that shows on the surface. There are lots of different types of veneer faced plywood, and you can get the look of a hard wood with the cost savings of plywood.

Next time you are in a woodworking store, take a look at their options. They will tend to have things that the home improvement stores do not, like Walnut and other less common species that furniture and cabinet makers use.

See Also: 9 Important Things to Put in Your Woodworking Notebook

Split Thicker Boards When Not Needed

Most solid wood comes in standard thicknesses. There are exceptions, but for the most part the common main size is 4/4, which really measures a little north of 3/4 of an inch thick. If your project does not need a board that thick, you can conserve and save money by splitting it.

I made a trunk from thin boards once, and I split them open to conserve the materials. It also reduced the weight by half, and made the trunk easier to carry around. This was a double win, because it was not a small project.

When you split your wood in half, you can use the table saw or the band saw, and then either sand the pieces or plane them. Now, you have twice the amount of lumber with at half the thickness and half the weight.

When you are facing something, like a handmade tool, or something else that just needs to have the wood for looks, this is a great technique. Slice the thicker piece open and create a couple thinner pieces. Depending on your saw, you might even get a few pieces out of it.

See Also: 11 Great Ways to Find Woodworking Inspiration

Your Homework

No matter how you feel about conservation, as someone who works with wood, the last thing you want to see is the world run out of it. This means you also run out of it, or the price becomes so high that you can’t participate anymore.

You don’t have to be a tree hugger to participate in conservation, and these methods are simple ways that you can be part of the solution. None of them require anything drastic, and they all are easy to incorporate into your process.

The next time you are building, think about the wood that is left in the world. Think about how you are making a difference for good or for bad, and then make your decision understanding the impact.

11 Easy Ways to Conserve Resources Wrap-Up

Those we’re eleven ways that you can become more conservative in your woodworking and wood use, and not stop being a woodworker. It doesn’t matter where you fall on the issue, we all need wood to be woodworkers.

Some of the easiest ways too conserve are to pay attention to the species you use, split your wood, and to use manufactured wood. These can keep you woodworking for a long time, and they have a smaller effect on the environment than using solid stock.

Together we can all make a difference, and ensure that we have enough wood to create future generations of woodworkers. After all, the hobby should pass on to future generations, because it is an amazing lifelong passion for so many people.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

a beginners guide to woodworking book to help new woodworkers make betterwoodworking projectsWhile I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well.

You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

My Beginners Guide to Woodworking is a huge resource if you are just starting out.

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