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Michael Bushman
Posts: 144
Location: Sacramento, CA
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Other than for making compost bins, I have never understood the fascination with taking apart pallets for the wood because better scrap wood seem so common.   Now it could just be luck on my part but my only problem with free lumber is either where to store it or how to say no to more.   Now you are asking yourself is this guy full of crap?    Oh, most certainly but not on this topic.



The above image is just part of what I pulled out of the 40' dumpster full of lumber from a large jobsite.   What you can't see is that most of what is leaning against the dumpster is vertical grain/quartersawn oldgrowth redwood tongue and grove planking, probably $400 worth or the twelve pieces of 4x6 beams that are 6' long, and there is more left in the dumpster.



So, here is what you do.   When you see a large jobsite, ask the foreman if you can get their scraps, be polite, tell them what you are looking for and if it is juicy material, drop them off a box of donuts or offer veggies.   Guys who put in fences pay to dump all that old fencing and often much of it is good 4 to 5 feet with only the bottoms bad.   Most cut them of in sections and I have often just screwed on a base and made tables out of them.   Go to lumber yards, explain you have a farm/homestead and want scrap wood.   Ask to put up a flyer, even better work with a non profit so they can get a write off.   Another good source is larger cabinet shops, I have seen larger ones with 40' dumpsters full of walnut and maple.   My all time best was a place that made wooden exercise equipment, I got pallets of baltic birch plywood and 2"  thick maple scrap that was often 2 to 3' long, enough to supply several local HS shop classes.   Working with a school if you can find one that still has a wood shop will open just about ANY door and just offer to split the wood with them, everyone will be happy.  

Happy scrounging!
 
Dillon Nichols
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Posts: 597
Location: Victoria BC
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my only problem with free lumber is either where to store it or how to say no to more

What a terrible problem to have!

Nice ideas for sources, will have to keep them in mind. Free lumber around here goes *fast*; I don't usually bother when I see it posted on craigslist etc, because it will almost always be gone before I can arrive, even if it's just 20 mins away.

My favored lumber yard has a scrap bin you can loot... but I've never seen any decent wood in it. We're talking nothing over 18" usable length...

Other than for making compost bins, I have never understood the fascination with taking apart pallets for the wood because better scrap wood seem so common.


I'm not a big fan of taking apart pallets for the lumber outside of special circumstances, but there's just so much beyond compost bins that can be done with them! Within the couple months I've used pallets to make 5 tables and a raised garden bed; none of them were disassembled, some were trimmed with a hackzall. Benches, fences, and crude animal shelters are also easy builds.

(As far as special cases go... I've scored some lovely 8' full dimension 4x4 posts out of pallets... no idea what they were carrying, but it must have been heavy as hell!)



 
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