View Full Version : OT.... Any good ideas for organizing pieces and chunks of wood?

J Tiers
01-18-2016, 08:49 PM
Got lots, most too big or of too interesting a wood to just feed to the heater. Most is standard pine, cedar and related ply stuff, but there is some redwood, various hardwoods such as walnut, etc. Stuff up to maybe 30 inch long. Ones that are longer are no issue, I have places for that.

They vary from tag ends of 2 x 4 and the like (used to set stuff on to keep it off the floor, block up stuff during repairs, etc), through foot square pieces of ply or particle, MDF, etc, and on to several foot long pieces, or larger sections of ply etc.

If I toss the lot, which is a possible way to deal with them, I'll need some within 2 days, no doubt. I don't know which ones, of course.

I've kept the smaller stuff in buckets (always in the way), I've had them in boxes on a roll-around base (still in the way), and am now thinking about some way to put them above one another so they can go in an unused area and not occupy floor space.

But the main issue is not where, but how. Sort them by size? By material? By some combination? It makes sense to keep the interesting woods separate from the rest, but there are various sizes of even those. Makes more sense to keep the MDF and particle separated from "real" woods, and maybe the ply........

I've had recent use for most sizes, even the tag ends of 2x, and I was not able to find them when I wanted them. hence the plan to get them where I can use them, without having them be both in the way, and also hard to search through, as they are now.

01-18-2016, 10:02 PM
I struggled with this exact problem for years--How to organize hundreds of pieces from long & skinny to short & wide to scraps of ply and MDF. I had it mostly stacked on shelves more or less by species, but there was so much of it, I would sometimes go buy a new piece rather than face rooting through the piles. It finally got to the point where I couldn't add a small new machine to the shop until I did something about it.

I finally just changed my philosophy. If I throw most of it away, will I come to a project where I could have used a piece or two? Sure, and I may have to go buy some wood, but the up side is a lot cleaner, roomier, more organized, and more pleasant shop.

I kept most of the exotics, but slowly fed most of the domestics into the fireplace as kindling, or took it to the dump. It was very liberating, and I can't really say I've missed any of it so far.


Paul Alciatore
01-19-2016, 12:22 AM
I am presently installing an area with the adjustable shelf brackets on one wall of my garage for medium lengths of metal and wood stock. This area is about four feet wide and with the brackets on the studs I can store lengths between about 18" and 50". I plan to limit the amount of both types of stock stored here. Each level will hold different types of stock. I have added a length of rain gutter (scrap that was laying around) as a storage bin for metal stock. That way I can store smaller/shorter lengths safely. There is a little space in front of it for larger pieces to just lay on the brackets. I will be getting more brackets for more levels and probably some more rain gutter. I will be buying plastic gutter for some more bins as cutting and bending the galvanized stuff is quite challenging.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v55/EPAIII/Garage%20Shop%20Project/P1190025_zpslgwqvted.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/EPAIII/media/Garage%20Shop%20Project/P1190025_zpslgwqvted.jpg.html)

This is a work in progress. I originally purchased shelf brackets that were too long (8") for the attic stairs to swing past. I purchased 12 6" brackets today and they are on the top three levels in the photo. I am waiting for an additional 18 to come in on Thursday. That will give me the proper clearance for the stairs and also more levels for stock in this area.

I am also thinking about a box (wood? cardboard? metal?) with vertical divisions in it for storing shorter lengths in the various bins the dividers create. Need to keep the individual bins small enough for short lengths to stand up, but big enough to reach inside with my hand. These bins can be labeled for the various types of stock. Perhaps two boxes, one for wood and the other for metal? I haven't done this yet so no pictures.

Full length (8', 10', etc.) stock I store either vertically or I have a bunch of "J" hooks in the ceiling area of my lawn shed for metal stock. Again, the different types of metal are stored in different hooks.

That leaves a bunch of scraps and just plain new stock that is too wide for either of these methods. I haven't figured this out yet. I may add an area under the corner TV shelf for stacking them. Or ???

01-19-2016, 12:35 AM
I bought some racking like the box stores use & it's amazing how much it helps. It'a not cheap but really worh it but you need a forklift to get the most from it. I bought 180' complete for $1300.

01-19-2016, 01:13 AM
Got to be honest I have exactly the same problem, timber in the uk is expensive, very little comes from the uk, it's Canadian, Russian, Swedish etc, it's a shame to waste any hardwoods are frighteningly expensive, a length of oak 2" square 12' long is about $100!
Since acquiring a table saw and shaper etc the amount of board off cuts is rising fast
I liked Paul's rack idea, might try that

01-19-2016, 01:20 AM
use those square kittylitter buckets, you stack and fasten them together, screw them to the wall with the openings, facing out.

J Tiers
01-19-2016, 01:55 AM
use those square kittylitter buckets, you stack and fasten them together, screw them to the wall with the openings, facing out.

that's what much of the stuff is in.

But the problem is what to put in which? I have not figured out the best sorting system. All of my good ideas seem to be proven less good within a short while, as I look for something I know I have.

When I sort by size, I have to paw around looking for a particular material. By material means looking more places for a size. Doing both is too many buckets or whatever.

01-19-2016, 02:30 AM
When I sort by size, I have to paw around looking for a particular material. By material means looking more places for a size. Doing both is too many buckets or whatever.

I would say store it by type of material. Select a material that's adequate for the task at hand. It you don't have it in the required
size, check one of the more expensive materials. No point in wasting a nice piece of redwood where a cheap piece of pine or scrap
of plywood will suffice.

01-19-2016, 04:53 AM
I"m still struggling after 45 years dealing with the same problem. I've tried many ideas over the years and nothing has worked well, some have worked okay but after 6 months to a year I was looking for another way to organize. During the 9 years I operated my custom woodworking shop I had a large selection of exotic hardwoods. The large boards I kept on wall shelves and leaning against the wall and the small pieces I sorted into three long boxes on casters, each approx 16" deep X 60" long X 16" wide. Each of them fit under a work bench, one with hardwoods scraps, one with quality softwood pieces and the other with junk scraps, blocking, drilling blocks etc.

In the end I sold the over flowing hardwood box for $500 and never looked back. It's a tough problem to solve, good luck.

01-19-2016, 07:52 AM
Beware bending and sagging when stored leaning or spanning insufficient horizontal supports.
Sort by size before variety. No sense in putting a 6in bit alongside a 6ft bit. If you say get 2 buckets of short ends then you can make one soft, one hard but no point in two half full buckets just 'cos you don't want to mix them and you are just wasting space. Never chuck old bits as they are the ones that have nicely stabilised and hardened. I'd sooner bin a new stick of plantation grown papier-mache than a solid 20yr old plank.

Paul Alciatore
01-19-2016, 01:08 PM
In truth, you have to do it both ways: by size AND by material. I always seem to wind up with several areas for different sizes and then subdividing those areas by materials.

I have faced the similar problem of organizing repair parts in TV stations. There were parts of many sizes from a small fraction of an inch in their largest dimension to many feet long. Then there were OEM parts with the manufacturer's part numbers, generic parts, hardware, and raw material stock.

I always started with plastic bins in those shelf style cabinets; 45 or 50 bins to a cabinet. And I usually divided those bins into three or four or even more compartments with dividers. I would let these bins serve as the basic system and I would have separate areas for OEM parts and generic items. I did everything by Manufacturer Name/part number or by Generic Name / value(s). I would leave empty bins for adding additional part numbers and when an item was too big to store in these bins/drawers I would put a dummy label in it that gave the alternate location where the part actually was. So a person could search the drawers in fairly short time and either have the part or know where it was.

My metal shop is not exactly like that, but here I start with cardboard bins and smaller bin-boxes to subdivide them. Larger items get shelf storage or rack style. I am trying to use the same style shelf rails and brackets all around the shop so an area can be reconfigured at a later time using the same wall mounted rails. I am not quite to that point yet, but I am working on it.

Jim Williams
01-19-2016, 01:53 PM
If you have not needed it in 5 years, and if it has little intrinsic value, toss it. It is easier to buy more than look for it in a jumble.


J Tiers
01-19-2016, 03:56 PM
If you have not needed it in 5 years, and if it has little intrinsic value, toss it. It is easier to buy more than look for it in a jumble.


That's a good theory........

In reality, I have no idea when the last time I used or wanted most things in the shop (or the house). So I would have no clue.

Also, its a lot cheaper to grab a chunk of 2 x 4 to stick under something than to go cut it off a full-length piece, which then is less valuable for other purposes.

I have lost count of the number of times something I have not touched for years has been needed. It's a great theory for folks who have money to burn, who don't mind delays, and who value having less stuff more than having what they need.

The sample shop at a former employer at one time had a supervisor who reflexively threw out every piece of wood smaller than a foot or two, basically on that kind of theory about what was useful and what was not. When you went to use the drill press, there never was a piece of wood to stick under the part. If you got one, it would be gone the next day. I started hiding one, it was so much hassle to find something to use.......

01-19-2016, 04:34 PM
If you have not needed it in 5 years, and if it has little intrinsic value, toss it. It is easier to buy more than look for it in a jumble.


an intelligent way to come at it......if only I could bring myself to it. in business, seeing roll offs of scrap i that years ago i would have hoarded, has partially cured me....but I've a long way to go. Then again its a great have 'stock' when you need it

as the years go by and brain cells slip away.....combined with more accumulation....leads to perpetual Christmas; constantly finding great stuff i didn't know i had. Not even knowing you had it is a compelling case for disposal.....so I try to store like things in the same place to have a fighting chance and making use of the hoard.

Spin Doctor
01-19-2016, 07:48 PM
A nice big bonfire. The ashes will take up a lot less room :p

J Tiers
01-19-2016, 08:25 PM
Well, I came up with an idea that cuts the ligniniferous knot...

I moved a shelf unit I had forgotten I had into a space that wasn't useful. I then put bins on the unit, and as much as fit in them I put in. (not bins of the Oldtiffie type). The various shelf spacing set the size that went on each. Plywood pieces got laid down on one, ditto with particle & MDF.

It seems to work.

The remainder is fodder for the chiminea, if it doesn't get used first. There really isn't a lot left

01-19-2016, 08:33 PM
This is where I stand in my purge program with wood drops. When I was finally forced to start the program, you couldn't even walk into that space. Most of it went in the fireplace.



01-20-2016, 10:10 AM
If its "exotic" or expensive I find a use for it. Instead of a random pile of scrap I have a lot of half done projects that sounded like a great idea when I started. This attitude seems to seep into all my other hobbies. I have a piece of flawless 1/4 walnut the size of a paperback book that's absolutely burning a hole in my pocket to star in some new project, I just don't know what yet.

If its mere pine or maple or oak, it probably sounds heretical but random pile of boards is useless to me to so I'll trim to a rough standard-ish size and stack, so at a glance I have I believe 7 pieces of 1x6 just under 13 inches but well over 12 inches long neatly stacked and in stock.

Also I'll aggressively scrap, if I couldn't be convinced to use that cupped checked knotty piece of junk yesterday, I never will in the future, so it gets burned along with the cutoffs. Something like lowest grade pine or barely better than sheathing grade plywood just gets burned.

Possibly unlike others, I keep my burn bucket in the shop, so other than the day after a bonfire I will always have a source of trash plywood or cutoffs for some weird task like backing a cut or drill or for use as a cheap skates push stick, I just burn the bucket when its too full. I have many buckets which randomly are assigned to scrap wood, garbage, or recyclables depending on what I need them for at the time. I get annoyed when a visitor tosses garbage in my burn bucket or tosses scrap wood in my recycle bucket.