environmental suggestions for woodworkers
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Environmental Suggestions

I try to be good to the planet, but by its very nature woodworking uses a valuable resource, albeit a renewable one. I have not completely resolved this issue in my own mind, but Iíve at least come up with a few suggestions.

  1. Consider the life of the project when choosing your wood.
    I attended a seminar where Chris Martin, CEO of Martin Guitars, said that it takes 100 years for a rosewood seedling to mature into a harvestable tree. It got me thinking. It just doesnít make sense to use a piece of wood that took 100 years to mature for a project that is going to last five or ten years.

    Some of the projects I build, such as hope chests and musical instruments, were built to be heirlooms and they probably will be around for a century or so, so I donít feel so bad about using oak or walnut. On the other hand, a cabinet built specifically to house video tapes probably has a limited life.

  2. Build smaller projects
    Building a small project that requires less wood can be just as enjoyable as building a large project. At every step of the operation you will use less energy and, of course, you will use less wood.

    If you are a recreational woodworker and the final project isnít as important as the process, this might be something to consider.

  3. Donít be afraid to use "found" materials.
    Many of the benches you see in my shop were built or adapted from stuff that was going to be thrown away or, in some cases, already had been thrown away. The base to my table saw is built from a bench that was in a shop that repaired old safes. Most of the laminate on top of my power tool bases was salvaged from when family or neighbors remodeled their kitchens. I have found many nice pieces of oak that were either going to be thrown away or burned. Before I throw anything away, I see if there is any good wood that can be used again. Some pretty ugly old wood can be resurfaced into something that is quite pleasing to the eye.

    Donít get me wrong - Iím not a packrat. I think that a cluttered shop can be quite dangerous, but if you keep your eyes open and use some common sense you can help save the planet and maybe a few bucks.

This jointer stand was made almost entirely from salvaged materials.

This jointer stand was made almost entirely from salvaged materials. Most of the wood was in a pile waiting to be thrown away, the top is left over from when my parents remodeled their kitchen, and the hardware was part of an old cabinet that was left in my house by its previous owner. (I salvaged the rest of the wood from that cabinet, too-really nice old pine.)

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This page last updated 04/27/03
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