Selling Wood Scrap

Figure out what wood-carvers and other craftsmen need, and you may be able to make money from sawmill off-cuts, odds and ends. May 13, 2005

Has anyone here really profited from making usable items from the off-fall of the mill? (I mean squares for turning pepper mills, pens, wine bottle caps, etc.) There was a good article in this month's Sawmill and Woodlot Management magazine and I am looking for other feedback.

Forum Responses
(Value Added Wood Processing Forum)
From Steve Bratkovich, forum technical advisor:
I have a friend who has a full-time business marketing wood to carvers, turners and wood-burners (artists). Much of his inventory is sawn specifically for this specialty market. However, he is able to sell some waste (offal) to this market (short boards, thin boards, bark-on boards, etc.) because he is keenly aware of the needs and wants of his customers. For example, he is able to recognize a small scrap of wood from the milling operation (say, butternut or walnut) that would make the perfect base for a wood carving. Consequently, he's able to take this scrap piece of wood to a wood carving show and sell it to a carver. He does this with many wood pieces including driftwood, rounds (cross-sections), burls, etc.

The key is to know the specifics of the products for the various markets you're trying to tap into. By specifics, I mean species, length, width, moisture content, etc. I think this is an area (using wood scrap) that could be a potential niche or specialty market for many.

From contributor C:
I have a carver that lives close by. Once a month or so, he comes and picks up most of my waste and he in return either pays for it or carves basically whatever I need him to, for any customers that I may have. It works out very well, and I don't have to throw it away.

From the original questioner:
I am starting to use the longitudinal pieces of scrap lumber for pen blanks and pepper mills. I am also looking to make knife scales as well. I figure that I will throw them in a bin box and then when it gets full, sell them, or if customers need something, let them pick it out.

More uses I have uncovered include: pepper mills, aromatic cedar blocks, knife scales, pen blanks, dowels, plugs, on and on. I figure the kiln dried scraps that contain figure will be cut down making these items, and I will package and sell them on my website and Ebay.

From Steve Bratkovich, forum technical advisor:
You mentioned selling on Ebay. Have you tried it before (selling online)? Any suggestions to others who might want to venture into cyber sales land?

From the original questioner:
Just keep plugging away. I think the EBay venture is going to be positive, especially for a small sawyer like me. The constant selling and good attitude are a definite plus to get people to trust your product and give you a try. I made the local paper here last week and hopefully will be in Woodlot mag in the coming months. I have also solicited Mother Earth news and they may do an article. I am currently listing my product on my website and will crosslink to Ebay to generate massive traffic. I find catering to the small cabinetmaker and hobbyist helps. I also joined the local woodworking chapter, not just to sell lumber, but to learn what they are looking for and why. Along the way, I have learned quite a few things about joinery, glue, mixing and matching wood, etc.

From Steve Bratkovich, forum technical advisor:
Good suggestions. Sparking interest in local newspaper stories and regional and/or national magazines is a great way to get a lot of free publicity. Many folks overlook this advertising angle when trying to spread the word about their business. Also, the internet is another way to showcase your products and services to a huge audience. The fact that you joined the local woodworking chapter is another example of spreading the word about your business as well as educating yourself to the needs and wants of other wood folks.

From contributor W:
As a woodworking teacher, these scraps/end pieces can save us money. Wish there was someone in my area looking to move small stock like this.