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Notes From The 'Net

By Doug Evans, With Loren Woodard and Matt Kelley

Recycling and working "Green" are popular topics now. Dick Milholm started the following thread on Fishcarver2, which was later cross-posted to the Woodcarver List:

Dick Milholm Milholm@CenturyTel.net:

Would like to hear how others recycle "stuff" in their shop.

I'll start it off with this simple tip.  The slick, heavier paper that you get in junk mail works very well to use when you mix up 5 minute epoxy and other material.  I cut the paper into sheets about 2 X 4 inches and save them in a plastic box.  Still the epoxy with a toothpick and then throw the "mess" into a plastic bag that you hand hanging on your bench.  You do have a waste bag right there don't you? LOL  

Loren Woodard LorenWoodard@charter.net replied:

Use the scrap wood from your cutout to create habitat such as rocks, etc.

Ron Bailey fishcarver@rogers.com responded:

That's a good idea.  I have several cardboard boxes with scraps but it does get out of hand every so often, then I have to throw some pieces out. Great for the fireplace.

Mike Stuart scstuart@charter.net added:

I use the  "pre-approved" credit cards I receive in the mail as the bases on which to mix my epoxy.   After the waste dries, it and the toothpick peel right off and the card is ready for mixing the next batch.

I also save the 5" sandpaper disks from my orbital sander.  The edges wear out long before center but that center portion makes a flexible piece that I can wrap around my finger or a dowel rod to get into tight spaces.

Another trick that I got from reading some of Bob Berry's material is  
to save the shafts on which small grinding stones are mounted.  When  
a stone wears out or chips, I clean it up and insert the 1/8th or 3/32nds shaft into a small piece of rock maple.  I rotate and shape it against my band sander until it is perfectly smooth.  It makes the most amazing burnisher that you can make into any shape you need.

I use Loren's idea about saving cut-offs for rocks or small habitat pieces.  My problem is storage.  I keep stepping on pieces that have fallen out of the 20 gallon tote bucket that I use to store those.   It's just so hard to throw away a nice piece that "might" be useful  some day but I haven't figured out when to stop!

Dick Milholm weighted in again:

Neat tips.  a couple more:
1) Recycle a GLASS jelly jar by putting in unused stain, varnish, etc.  Cut label from original can and tape it on the jar.  Wrap teflon tape around the jar edge (counter clockwise) so the lid will come off easily when you use it next time.

2) Blow compressed air (kind used for dusting computers, etc) into the jar of paint or varnish prior to putting on the lid.  This will keep the paint from skimming over.

Joe Hartnett jhartne1@cox.net contributed this:

I use the larger pieces that can be cut from a plastic milk jug for pattern material.  Just cut a large piece from the jug that will lay flat.  Tape the paper pattern to the piece of plastic from the milk jug.  Cut the plastic with a sharp Xacto knife and you have a very good pattern to trace onto your carving wood.

From Pat Sherman psherman@suite224.net came the following:

Another saver you can use  in your shop is the styrfoam plates that come with meat. Cleaned up they make great palettes for painting. Popcycle sticks are great for stirring paint also, and the plastic lids that come on spray cans can be used to mix paint, varnish, stains .and are easy to clean or toss.

Arthur Harpool Oregonkarver@aol.com wrote:

I use the lids from margarine and deli counter salads for mixing glue and using as paint palettes, they clean up easy.

Larry Goldman saginawldr@yahoo.com added:

Good food for thought. I cut up both paper and plastic milk cartons and use the
resulting pieces to mix epoxy and other materials on and I clean and save wooden
pop sticks to use for mixing sticks. I also save used tooth brushes for a variety of other cleaning purposes and plastic bottles and trays to hold a variety of things.

Merryl Bustin m.bustin@seasidehighspeed.com from Nova Scotia contributed these:

Just a few ideas:
Each time you're in a fast-food joint, grab a few extra empty tiny ketchup (catsup??) cups. They are great for mixing paints or that sticky 5 min. epoxy.
Help your dentist recycle by asking him for his worn bits and burrs. Still lots of life in them for woodcarving after he or she is done with them!
Save all those wildlife calendars!  Great reference photos and/or ideas for patterns.
Save your chips!!  Makes good mulch in the garden or to line birdhouses or nest boxes with.

Dick Milholm one more time:

We've got a good start on using recycled materials.  

I've never used rock maple to burnish wood (but have used walnut).

Plastic milk carton material can be cut to the shape of lichen and then pounded with a ball peen hammer to alter the shape.

I'm glad to see that others have a hard time throwing away small pieces of wood.  LOL  

I use a paper punch that punches out flower petals from construction paper.  Works well for leaves also.  The punches are strong enough to punch out leaves, etc from thin brass and copper sheets.

How do you use different materials?

Patti Landmann lowvillecarver@yahoo.com related an experience most of us have had:

I recycle nice wood into decorative fire wood.

Loren Woodard chimed in again:

This is a good thread!  

I also use [waste wood from my cutouts] to practice eyes, mouths, noses, etc.  I get way too much wood to practice on so I donate it to some of the beginning carvers in our club.  We do mini-seminars almost every meeting and I show carvers how to practice eyes, noses, mouths, etc on the scrap wood.

Casey Willson jdkc1982@gmail.com had this to offer:

So far you've all posted the stuff I do plus have given me some new ideas!
But I also get the "key dust" from the local hardware store and mix it with epoxy when filling cracks in some of my sticks to get that "gold dust" look. I make wind chimes out of the badly cut keys.

Joe Hartnett once again

Save your small scraps that we cut off of a piece of wood that couldn't be used for a larger project and carve something nice.  Then, enter the item in the Mint Tim Carving contest. (More info on that contest in this issue)

Terry Zobl tzobl@email.com wrote:
I always keep some of those small packages of pepper, that you get at the fast food counter, in my tool box emergency pouch along with some bandages. If you slip and get a small cut the pepper will help clot the bleeding and it doesn't burn. And, if nothing else, it makes your finger taste better when you put it in your mouth.

That's all for now - but keep those great ideas coming, and share them on your favorate carving list.

Doug Evans (aka the Woodologist)

StaffPlease take some time and check out the wood carving lists on the Internet. There is a lot of knowledge free for the asking on all of the list serves.

For information regarding the various email lists for woodcarvers, visit The Carvers' Companion Resource Files, or click the links below.


Woodcarver's List - Woodcarving Fun -- Knotholes List - Fishcarving List2 -- House of Woodcarving

Editor's Note: Disclaimers and Cautions

  • Endorsements of products mentioned by contributors to this article should not be construed as endorsements by either the editor of this article or Woodcarver Online Magazine, unless specifically so noted.
  • Advice and opinions expressed in this article are those of the original poster named therein; when in doubt seek additional professional advice.
  • Woodcarving and shop work are potentially hazardous activities and should be undertaken only with safety a constant and primary consideration. Electrical, mechanical and other modifications in your work area should always comply with local and state codes and requirements.

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