Trash to Treasure: 6 Workshop Wastes You’re Tossing Away Too Soon

Monday, 17 June
Pallets furniture, sitting area in a garden-cm (1)

Craftsmen are instinctively resourceful. If there’s a functional use for an item, you want to know about it. When you’re cleaning up after a messy project or decluttering the workshop, you might want to give those byproducts a second look. Some of the castoffs you have destined for the bin might have an alternative use.

1.   Scrap wood

Scrapwood is abundant on the job site and in the home workshop. After every project, it seems you’re left with more pieces of wood than when you started. Fortunately, there are virtually unlimited ways to repurpose scrap wood such as:

  • Shims to fill small gaps for stability and alignment
  • Push sticks for table saws
  • Sawhorses or tables
  • Test pieces for stains or finishes
  • Buffer to prevent clamp marks
  • Borders for picture frames
  • Kindling for building the perfect fire

Check your scrapwood pile before buying any lumber to see what you already have on hand. This can significantly reduce project costs while keeping your ever-growing scrap pile in check.

2.   Sawdust

Sawdust might seem like it’s destined for the trash, but this dynamic remnant of woodworking delivers a resourceful punch. It’s perfect for absorbing liquid spills, filling cracks in wood (when mixed with glue), cleaning up oil and grease messes, and even animal bedding on farms. You can use a small workshop vacuum or classic dustpan and broom to collect this golden residue following a project. Having a full plastic bag on hand should be enough for most projects. Avoid keeping too much as it can easily get in the way.

3.   Screws and nails

Normally, screws and nails outlive whatever they’re holding together. Instead of dooming the entire project, you can salvage these surviving parts for future use. Removing screws is as easy as switching the direction of your drill. Nails require a bit more finesse and patience but a hammer should do the trick. Due to their sturdier design and ease of removal, screws can usually be reused in another woodworking project. On the other hand, a nail’s second life might have to be reserved for minor repairs or out-of-sight carpentry because of its comparative weakness.

Further Reading: You Can Toss These 5 Useless Tools

4.   Pallet wood

If you come across a pallet on the job site or when at home, you’re in luck! What most people view as a pile of trashy wood, craftsmen can use as a treasure trove of potential. Pallet wood is a perfect candidate for repurposing because it’s sturdy, durable, and versatile. Maybe you need a new shelf in the workshop or you want to build a DIY piece of furniture. Regardless, there are a million awesome things you can do with a wooden pallet. Most pallets are assembled with nails, so disassembly should be a cinch!

5.   Electrical components

If you’re doing light electrical work around the house, you’ll probably have a pile of random components without apparent use when you’re done. Old wiring can double as sturdy rope for low-stakes projects or as the basis for homemade jewelry. If you have wires that carry a current, you can hold onto light switches to help your kids learn the basics of electrical currents. You might as well toss the outlet and light switch covers into storage. They don’t go bad, and you never know when you might need them again.

6.   Cardboard boxes

Everything comes in cardboard boxes these days, so nobody thinks twice about tossing it away. While there’s no way to use all the cardboard you come across, it’s handy to keep a few boxes lying around. They’re great for makeshift shims when you’re out of wood, DIY drawer dividers for your tools, tracing templates for intricate projects, temporary protection for walls or floors, and so much more. When you’re in a pinch and ingenuity strikes, you’ll have cardboard ready to save the day!

Looking for a new industrial gig? You’re in the right place! Madden Craftsmen brings decades of experience to the table helping talented professionals like you find work with some of the leading industrial companies. Check out our job search for immediate openings in your area.

Recent publications

View All News
Construction workers working at site-cm
Wednesday, 15 February

Why Craftsmen Thrive in the Cold Weather

For the average person, winter is an excuse to take...
Construction workers cm
Wednesday, 09 May

How To Manage Friends Working For You

Congratulations! You just got a promotion, or maybe you started...
Carpenter wearing leather tool belt with hand tools in front of American flag-cm
Wednesday, 08 November

Combat to Career: How Veterans Can Successfully Transition to a Civilian Profession

Active duty members of the military face immense challenges that...