Hi Folks; have you ever wondered what happens to those old base boards or the skirtings from that demolition project or even those old shipping pallets from behind that store. Well I pick them up and use them......No I'm not some grubby old guy with a broken down pick-up, I'm the grubby old guy with the broken down stationwagon. (Haha) Only kidding, but for those of you who are short on cash or just starting out in woodworking, "listen up". There is a wealth of material out there free for the taking, with the owners permission of course. Most renovation or damage repair companies have to pay to dispose of the wood product that they remove from a site. In some cases they are obligated by insurance companies to destroy it, these you don't worry about. But in many cases the companies have to pay (by weight) for the disposal of these materials. Most of the site managers that I have talked to hate to see the waste but their sheds, garages and closets are full to the verge of divorce and can be very accomidating. Some will be stuck in "I can't be bothered" mode but when you find a helpful one, then make it easy for him. Place some calls or drive around and look for offices or industrial demolition as these will have used newer and more durable materials(If you have tried to pull off a 100 year old base board you'll know what I mean).
Now for my personal favorite, "Shipping Pallets". I know, I know, I can hear the "What's" and "Huh's" from here. Your question is; "You mean those dirty, beat up, ugly things, that I see piled behind the stores that nobody wants"........Yep, them's the ones. Those unfortunates, those degraded, those forgotten......are solid gold. On the westcoast we have an abundance of softwoods that go into every thing, on the otherhand the eastcoast the same can be said for hardwoods including (taadaa)Shipping Pallets. For most companies pallets are not a monitary concern and they have no interest in sending back a train load of shipping pallets for re-use, so they collect and sit. I have found pallets made of oak, alder, ash, walnut, cherry, apple, chestnut, beech, maple, alder to mention only a few. And let us not overlook the overseas contributions of mahogany, teak and so on.
There are various ways to disassemble these pallets and they are labour intensive. Remember the pallets are not designed to come apart(Duh!!) So some times the most effective way will come down to the material itself, technique, the tool or ultimately brute force. What ever way works is the rule of thumb and these may differ from pallet to pallet. We can talk about these later.
There will be waste, this will break, that will shatter or this part is just no good.......no problem. Remember this is about recycling and I believe that burning to heat a home on those damp wintery evenings is a viable use of waste materials. But if you don't agree or don't have a fireplace, most cities have a recycling programs that include waste wood materials. They will usually "chip-it" where it can be used on city park pathways or gardens or it can be returned to the earth as a composted product.
The thing about pallet material is the way its cut. For store stock or retail stock the producer is attempting to create a uniform material for an end sale user. the point being you can start a project and three monthes later go to the store or supplier and find a piece of oak that will conform in grain, texture and colour to the one you bought originaly. For pallets though the cuts are not limited for appearance sake. In the industry there are many names for this kind of cutting, waste limited, max usage, minimal loss, total usage and on and on. the idea is turn that log every which way to get the most out of it. The result is you find pieces done in Riftsawn, Quartersawn, Flatsawn,Shavecut or Slabcut to name only a few. The end product can be a form, depth, colour and beauty that you will never see in a rack at any retail outlet.
So now the question is;"Is Russ talking out of his hat, what can you do with this pile of wood once you've got it". AHaaaaa!! Well most all the projects I do in my shop will include recycled material to a lesser or greater degree. Because of the uniqueness of the grain, texture, colour and staining it can be a gem for woodworker new and old. I have used recycled wood in fireplace surrounds, book shelves, cabinets, wood parquet floor and stair covering, furnture........anywhere you want a unique look or appearance and are prepared to work for it.
Good hunting and good luck
This is all my wood I get from three cabinet shops tha just toss it out .
this is just about half of what I just picked up 10 feet each oak,cherry,black walnut,mohogany, quilted mohogany,birch,maple and brazilian cherry got it all for only $100.00. just got to look around.