The Great Lumber Purge of 2020

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The Great Lumber Purge of 2020

Goodbye old friends.

I’ve always aspired to be one of those handymen who has all the tools for any job, enough knowledge to handle any repair, and the right piece of scrap lumber on hand for every single situation. My great-grandfather, after experiencing the Great Depression, was much more inclined to repair something than throw it away, and his garage was filled with small mason jars that contained every type of closure possible. He even picked up the tennis balls from the court across the street after closing time, and every time we went to visit, he’d have another can or two of balls to play with. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he never turned down the opportunity for some free wood or scrap when presented. I amassed enough of the collection and felt good enough for my ability to undertake any project with what I had on hand.

In a revelation that surprised only me, it turned out that the more wood I had in the store, the busier the store became. The busier my workspace, the less wood I work. And if I’m not working the wood, the wood keeps piling up. With everything going on in the world, the state of my workbench had gone largely unnoticed by myself until recently when my mom borrowed some wood glue for a project she was doing with my sons. I went to the shop and realized there was no direct path to my bench. I’d have to crawl all over my piles of lumber and waste bags just to get to the glue bottle.

Obviously, I had to do something about it. I hate throwing things away, especially during a timber shortage. So I took the only rational path forward and piled a ton of unwanted wood on the sidewalk. Less than a day later, and almost everything had been withdrawn. I like to imagine what kind of projects the wood will go to. Maybe it will be a desk for someone who works at home or a toy for a grandson. In fact, I’m probably just perpetuating the same cycle of scrap accumulation that plagues so many carpenters. For now though, I’m just glad I’ve freed up space in my shop – there’s plenty on Craigslist for some leftover walnut that I can’t give up.

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