How do you store scrap wood?

Scrap wood can be a useful resource for woodworking and DIY projects. However, storing scrap wood properly is important to keep it in good condition and make it easily accessible when you need it. Here are some tips on how to effectively store scrap lumber.

Why Proper Storage is Important

There are several reasons why properly storing scrap wood is beneficial:

  • Prevents warping and cracking – Storing wood in a dry place prevents moisture changes that lead to warping and cracking.
  • Avoids rot and decay – Keeping wood off direct contact with the ground prevents moisture damage and insect/fungi infestation.
  • Saves space – Organized storage helps maximize space and access useful scraps easily.
  • Keeps material usable – Proper conditions preserve the quality and usability of wood scraps for future projects.

Taking steps to store leftover wood reduces waste and saves money since you get more use out of materials you already have.

Storing Small Pieces

For smaller offcuts and irregularly shaped scraps:

  • Plastic bins – Use plastic tubs, buckets, or bins to toss small scrap pieces into. Plastic won’t absorb moisture like wood can over time.
  • Paper bags – Brown paper lawn/leaf bags allow airflow while keeping scraps contained.
  • Cardboard boxes – Sturdy boxes can hold small scraps, separated in plastic bags by material type.
  • Coffee cans – Metal coffee cans make good scrap containers as they are durable and have lids to keep dust out.

Sort and label the containers with the wood type and dimensions as best you can. Try to break down into similar sizes (ex. thin strips, odd shapes, blocks 2″ or under, etc). For better organization, you can use hanging wall racks or shelving units to neatly store and see the scrap bins.

Storing Medium to Large Pieces

For bigger wood scraps and odd shaped cutoff blocks:

  • Wooden racks – Build shelves or vertical compartment racks to neatly organize medium to large scraps.
  • Pegboards – Hang scraps on a wood pegboard to see everything easily. Use outlines to sort scraps.
  • Shelving – Install shelving units to hold categorized scraps flat and upright.
  • Small parts organizers – Use plastic compartment organizers to separate small blocks and pieces.

Try to store same material types together and label the wood type. You can further sort by size, thickness, or project. An inventory list of bigger pieces can help you locate wood.

Storing Long Boards or Beams

For storing long boards, beams, or lumber offcuts:

  • Use a lumber rack – Vertical and horizontal lumber racks keep boards neat and accessible.
  • Make A-frames – Arrange boards of similar lengths in A-frame formations against a wall.
  • Stack with stickers – Stack boards horizontally with wood spacers (stickers) between each layer to prevent warping.

Store offcut lumber flat and supported along its entire length. Keep different wood types and lengths together. Avoid overhead storage which can damage boards when retrieving them.

General Storage Tips

Here are some overall scrap wood storage guidelines:

  • Categorize scraps by type of wood – group together pine, oak, birch, etc.
  • Separate by size and shape – small pieces, thin strips, blocks, curved cuts, etc.
  • Store lumber flat and fully supported – prevents warping and cracking.
  • Keep wood dry by storing indoors or covering – avoids moisture damage.
  • Allow for air circulation – ventilation reduces condensation buildup.
  • Use stickers when stacking – spacers reduce friction and prevent moisture entrapment.
  • Label contents for easy identification.
  • Take inventory periodically – avoids losing track of what’s on hand.

Prioritize neat, compartmentalized storage to make locating and retrieving scraps quick and easy. Having an organized system helps reduce waste and makes woodshop projects more efficient.

Scrap Wood Storage Options

There are many storage solutions that can neatly hold scrap lumber while protecting it. Consider these storage method options:

Storage Method Pros Cons
Wall-Mounted Lumber Rack – Organizes long boards vertically
– Saves floor space
– Easy to see contents
– Heavy boards require solid mounting
– Only fits long thin wood pieces
Freestanding Lumber Rack – Holds boards horizontally or vertically
– Adjustable shelves and compartments
– Mobile if on casters
– Takes up floor space
– Size limitations
Wooden Shelves – Use existing wall space
– Customizable sizes
– Separates types of scraps
– Must be mounted securely
– Fixed shelves limit flexibility
Shelving Unit – Offers multiple shelves
– Compartments can categorize
– Pre-built convenience
– Fixed shelf spacing
– Potential weight limitations
Pegboard – Visual organization
– Customizable layout
– Easy access
– Strength limits
– Smaller scraps may fall
Small Parts Organizer – Neat compartments
– Stacks together
– Portable convenience
– Only fits smaller pieces
– Not designed for heavier wood

Consider the size of your scrap pieces, workshop layout, organizational needs, and budget when deciding on the best storage solutions.

Organizing Inside the Storage

To maximize scrap wood storage, organize the contents using these strategies:

  • Group narrow planks vertically in pipe clamps.
  • Separate wide boards on edge using wood spacers (stickers).
  • Cut ply and sheet goods into standardized sizes for better stacking.
  • Divide tiny pieces into small parts organizers or coffee cans.
  • Neatly stack cutoffs into wood crates or bins.
  • Sort curved/irregular shapes into paper bags.
  • Label all wood scraps by type using permanent marker.
  • Create an inventory log or use a numbering system.

organizational habits make it faster to add new scraps and withdraw materials for projects later on. Take time to devise a scrap wood storage system that fits the space available and makes sense for how you work.

Protecting Stored Wood

To keep wood in good shape while stored, protect it from:

  • Moisture – Cover wood to avoid rain/snow. Choose dry storage locations.
  • UV light – Sunlight can discolor and dry out wood over time.
  • Pests – Bugs, termites, and rodents can damage stored lumber.
  • Mold and rot – Make sure wood stays dry and allows airflow.
  • Warping – Lay wood flat with even support to prevent bending.
  • Rusting fasteners – Remove or cover metal hardware in wood.

Monitor your scrap wood supply periodically for any signs of deterioration or pest damage. Addressing any issues quickly can save the wood.

When to Use Stored Scraps

Well-organized wood storage makes it much easier to take stock of what scrap is available for upcoming projects. Remember to utilize stored scraps when:

  • Test fitting a design – Use scraps to mock up shapes and sizes.
  • Creating jigs and fixtures – Repurpose random pieces to make handy workshop tools.
  • Making small projects – Turn little offcuts into DIY gifts and decorations.
  • Patching existing work – Match with scraps from the original wood.
  • Adding accents – Highlight projects with contrasting wood accents.
  • Trying new techniques – Practice first on leftover scrap pieces.

Get in the habit of routinely checking your scrap bins before buying new wood. Finding uses for wood scraps saves money and gets your creative juices flowing.

Selling or Disposing of Scrap

If scrap wood is piling up too much, consider these options:

  • Sell it – Unused scraps can be sold for extra cash on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc.
  • Donate it – Local schools, community centers, churches may welcome wood donations.
  • Use as kindling – Offcuts are handy firestarters for fireplaces and campfires.
  • Recycle it – Look for wood recycling centers that can chip scraps into other products.
  • Repurpose it – Upcycle scraps into containers, organizers, furniture, and more.

Evaluate scrap pieces before disposal – wider boards and longer lengths are likely more useful and valuable.


Storing scrap wood properly leads to less waste, easier access, and better protection of the materials for future use. Start by sorting scraps into logical categories. Use bins, racks, shelves, and organizers that fit your workshop layout and the types of wood pieces. Make sure to keep wood dry and free from pests. An organized system saves time hunting for the perfect scrap when inspiration strikes.

Scrap wood is a free resource for any woodworker. Put effort into storing and organizing it and you will reap rewards the next time you begin a project.

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