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Question about using scrap wood for jigs

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  • stickman
    one mans junk is another man's treasure, you may find nails or grit in used lumber but you can see what you are into. if you put dirty wood or nails through a planer you can almost guarantee you'll be changing the blades in short order. I like working with reclaimed fir as my house is all made of fir so often I'll scour and find old lumber and it is often then also very dimensionally stable. I dont bring particleboard home and I've gotten rid of most pieces of furniture made with it or removed where it was used in my house. It's not even good for firewood. Its ok for temporary jigs and things. some love the stuff. it has it's place. usually it's pretty flat if elephantiasis hasn't set in.

    I tend to find used furniture and doors and all sorts of things to cut up and re-design into useful projects and that keeps me out of the big orange box trap ;-) a friend gave me an old floor that had been sanded and taken apart, I re-dimensioned it all and so I have lots of nice old growth knot free vertical grain fir from that and Im planning to split it all in half and make thin wainscot strips. i can add that to my walls and it'll look nice. If you have a commercial shop it's a different situation but I like to recycle partly because buying nice stock can get really expensive. I'd rather my hobby didn't eat my rather slim budget when it comes to home projects.
    all my dust and scrap is firewood. I just put the dust in paper bags and it burns fine. if it's full of nails Il cut it and avoid them and then just burn it , the nails settle into the ash and arent; much of an issue. I try to avoid painted wood unless it's worth stripping but I did get a whole house worth of baseboards and trim and Im stripping all that to show the wood and slowly replacing all my painted wood. I generally heat strip it then re-dimension it to clean it up then reuse it.
    ive been getting 2x2's that were used for crating rock slabs. I don't know what it is some wood from china. its hard, no good for outdoors, but ok for burning and I keep the better stuff for projects and burn the twisty knotty ones.

    some of the sizes are hard to cut from new lumber like super long 7.5 x 1 inch baseboards, or the casings and a lot of things like window sills need to be oversize to look right. old dimensional lumber is thicker than the new stuff and it shows. an old door can make a nice window sill that is thick.. sometimes Ill make it like a box and glue the end grain right so it appears thicker than it is. you can coat particleboard with thin pieces of lumber to make it appear as real wood and save that way too.
    Last edited by stickman; 09-15-2021, 12:01 PM.

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  • Egon
    Scrap wood usually means the pieces that are left over from projects. When using them each piece has to be evaluated for the intended use. This also means the sawmill cut type, wood grain and species have to be taken into consideration as well as moisture content.

    When the valuable scrap gets to the point it’s too small to comfortably use power equipment on it may be fireplace time.

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  • John Bartley
    Originally posted by Jfd986 View Post
    When these people are on YouTube talking about "I had some scraps lying around, so I made this jig" or "I made this contraption out of pallet wood" ... Are these scraps or pieces of plywood/MDF they're using already in pristine condition or are they milling and edge jointing this stuff off-camera?
    Scraps .... I have a LOT of scraps. They generally end up as BBQ or fire wood. Because I have a sawmill and live where I do, I have not bought "nice" wood for as long as I can remember .... probably a decade or better. I have a basic Ridgid Jointer and Planer, so all my "scraps" are left over from rough cut boards that I have as remainders from a job, or they are planed and jointed bits that are left over from a job that started as rough cut lumber.
    Using pallets is fine, but if you're going to use "scraps" or stuff you've picked up along the way, or you plan to use pallets as lumber, you are going to have to learn to use your basic equipment and by that I mean brushing or washing clean, removing nails, stones and other blade destroying items, followed by rough sizing, jointing and planing.
    It's frustrating at first, but as you learn the equipment and get better at it, it becomes more fun.

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  • ThePracticalPeasant
    Couple different questions here, the way I see it.

    1) Softwood for jigs. Since the most available softwood is dimensional construction lumber, and you referenced 2x4s in your post, I'll ignore "nicer" options (that are still technically softwoods). I don't. I don't trust the stability of a S/P/F 2x4, be it a scrap or a fresh one, salvaged from a shipping crate, or found beside the highway. Plus it's soft, it gets banged up too easily.

    2) Pallets as lumber. Many pallets are not softwood. Poplar is common here. Far from the best quality, not much use in the elements, but planed and squared up, there are plenty of indoor uses. Other pallet materials exist. Pallets are not equally robust, some, such as those that carry sod, contain a hefty amount of material. It is probable that those on YouTube to which you refer are milling down the lumber from higher quality pallets.

    3) "Scrap" is relative. The guy sheeting a new house will often consider a half sheet of OSB "scrap". I often build shop bins from my scraps of half-inch Baltic Birch. Once pieces are too small to be a side of a useful bin, I consider them garbage.

    4) Wood for jigs. My jigs are made from what I consider to be scraps of 4/4 Red Oak/Hard Maple/Sapele, and 1/2" Baltic Birch plywood. They represent the hardest and most stable materials of which I generally have a supply of scraps. Depending on the jig you're building, how long it needs to last, how accurate it needs to be, almost any material on hand might work... There's no reason for a general rule of what materials one can or cannot use...

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  • Jfd986
    started a topic Question about using scrap wood for jigs

    Question about using scrap wood for jigs

    So I tried making a router table fence out of plywood I found on the side of the road. Didn't work, the wood was slightly off. So then I tried making it out of 2x4 from a warehouse, and I put it together and it was real nice and all, but then I noticed it wasn't square.

    I tried fixing it on the jointer but when I walked over, I saw the jointer ground pin had fallen out of the plug. Let's forget about that for a second, I'm just gonna ignore tomorrow's problem and get to my Now question.

    When these people are on YouTube talking about "I had some scraps lying around, so I made this jig" or "I made this contraption out of pallet wood" ... Are these scraps or pieces of plywood/MDF they're using already in pristine condition or are they milling and edge jointing this stuff off-camera? I suppose I can use this plywood and 2x4 I salvaged to make boxes and basic crates or drawers to hold stuff, but do I have to use only purchased wood from the Home Depot when I want to make a jig? Is it safe to assume that basically any second-hand softwood or composite product is going to be unusable for shop jigs?