Dumpster diving pays!

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Blog entry by Will Mego posted 03-30-2008 02:00 AM 866 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So last night, I’m making a list of the jigs I need/want to make for the various things on my to-do list (contained in another blog post), and I arrive at:
in order of need/intended construction:
1. Router Planing Sled (don’t have a planer)
2. Router Straight-Edge Jointing Jog (no Jointer either)
3. Panel Cutting Jig (who doesn’t need this?)
4. Cross Cut Sled (not a big deal, I have a really nice sliding compound miter saw)
5. Tapering Table Saw Jig (because it’s easy)
6. Raised Panel Jig (um..just because it’s cool!)

But I get to thinking…I’m a composer, and as an artist, the serious about craft type, not the airy pretentious type, I firmly believe that the care you take in your tools and work, and creating those tools yourself, says a great deal about who you are, and the care of craft. Working with music, or wood and stone is a privilege. I want my tools (and I’d like to make many of them myself) to reflect my viewpoint on life. This means my jigs, unless it’s something I need to complete something in a hurry, as I did with a recent roof patch, where I was racing snow and other obligations to complete the joining of rafters, new decking, felt, shingles of a hole in the roof caused by some damage, within a couple of hours…these jigs should reflect care and love. But how? I can’t afford to make jigs with some really expensive wood! So I read lots of people’s postings on here about construction sites, and freecycle, and reclaimed wood, etc..and fall asleep. During the night, I have a dream about getting cherry out of some dumpster.

This morning, I’m in my studio, when all of the sudden, my mother knocks on the door, and there she is, holding several pieces of cherry trim, about 6” x 24”. Turns out, a construction site blocks away for a client of hers (she owns a company which draws renderings for builders/contractors of their houses/projects) where he’s building a 2.4mil dream home for sale is doing the inside with walnut floors, cherry trim everywhere (try an amazing walnut staircase, cherry inlay, wrought-iron banister with walnut rail!)...and I have permission to raid the dumpster! So after I climb out, I’m around 100lbs+ the richer in walnut and cherry. Here’s a pic of a bin of each…that’s not even quite all of it..
bins of walnut and cherry
So I’ve got plenty of walnut and cherry to accent and strengthen my jigs, not to mention a million other uses. Maple crosscut sled with cherry rail and walnut accent anyone? I’m a happy camper.

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

11 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3405 days

#1 posted 03-30-2008 02:04 AM

Great find!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3291 days

#2 posted 03-30-2008 02:39 AM

Nice catch.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4010 posts in 3481 days

#3 posted 03-30-2008 02:48 AM

Man, you are in the catbird seat now. Fill the garage. Store wood under the bed. Get every stick you can lay hands on now so you don’t kick yourself later. That is one fierce find!!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3239 days

#4 posted 03-30-2008 02:55 AM

This is one of the nicer dumpster dives I have seen. You have some serious wood to work with.

Very nice.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View ww_kayak's profile


70 posts in 3142 days

#5 posted 03-30-2008 04:13 AM

Good find Will.
You can do more than just accents :). Here’s a table that my father made from scrap cherry that I brought home from Stickley Furniture 20+ years ago. I had a 4’ x 4’ x 4’ box piled high. 20 years later… there are about 12 pieces left. I keep telling myself I need to go back and see if any of the old boys are still there so I can get a refill ;)


-- Tom, Central New York

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3129 days

#6 posted 03-30-2008 05:10 AM

ww_kayak: I was thinking along those lines…the 2×4 contest photos really impressed me that there’s no such thing as a useless piece of wood. And I love that table.

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View Earle Wright's profile

Earle Wright

121 posts in 3137 days

#7 posted 03-30-2008 05:21 AM

Dear Will,

If it’s not too much trouble, I’m working on a dream that I’d like for you to have tonight. It involves me, a flatbed trailer, 27 walnut logs ranging from 12” to 22” thick, and a sawmill with a billboard stating “Free Sawing – Today Only”.

If you can pull it off once, you can pull it off again !!!

-- Earle Wright, Lenoir City, Tennessee

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3129 days

#8 posted 03-30-2008 06:13 AM

Oh no…. tries
Tomorrow, when the sea-lions ridden by angry Jimmy Carter clones show up at your door…
I tried.
Dreams are funny things.

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View Earle Wright's profile

Earle Wright

121 posts in 3137 days

#9 posted 03-30-2008 06:17 AM

boarding up the windows right now. Thanks for the heads-up and for trying!

-- Earle Wright, Lenoir City, Tennessee

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3302 days

#10 posted 03-30-2008 05:49 PM

And where is this dumpster located? ;-)

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View TroutGuy's profile


224 posts in 3128 days

#11 posted 03-30-2008 10:55 PM

Nice find!!!

I have taken this idea a step further. I have several friends who “work with wood”, but are not “woodworkers”—i.e. several finish carpenters, and a hardwood floor installer. They have standing orders to call me if anything that they think I might be interested in, is headed for the dumpster.

While I haven’t quite struck gold like you did, I have gotten some very nice ‘scraps’. Most of my projects tend towards the small side anyway, so their scraps are often just the right size for me.

My friends best finds, to date?

A few dozen pieces of 1×6 hard maple (12” – 22” lengths, stained on 3 sides), which planed into beautiful 1/2” stock.

A few short pieces of 5/4×6 TEAK decking (for some strange reason, there wasn’t much scrap on that job). I haven’t figured out what I’ll use this for yet.

More T&G oak flooring (6” – 24” lengths) than I can probably ever use.

Bottom line? Sometimes it’s amazing what a six-pack will buy you. ;-)

-- There is nothing in the world more dangerous, than a woodworker who knows how to read a micrometer...

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