Lumber Scrap Bins

When it comes to lumber storage in the shop, we often see solutions for storing long boards and full-size sheetgoods. But one storage challenge that is easy to forget about is how to store our cut-offs, scraps and shorts. Every project takes long boards and turns them into shorter ones and the left-over material from these projects needs a place to call home. After all, if you’re anything like me, you probably hold on to scraps indefinitely. So whenever you are designing a lumber storage solution, keep in mind that you will also need to think about housing various smaller pieces that are of assorted widths and 4′ or less in length.

My plan for scrap storage is very simple and consists of nothing more than a few wall-mounted side-by-side bins. Since my plywood is now stored near the front door, the space under my lumber rack provides the perfect location for this much-needed storage solution.

Lumber Rack Detour

Speaking of the lumber rack, you’ll notice some significant changes from the previous version, primarily the fact that I am now using commercially-available metal racks. I opted for a metal system for several reasons. First, it takes up less space. I can fit more wood on each shelf simply because the brackets are very low-profile. Second reason is strength. While my wood lumber rack was certainly up to the task, metal racks can typically handle more weight. Third, this system is super easy to install. All I had to to was run the horizontal supports where the wall meets the ceiling and drop in the vertical standards in line with the wall studs. The brackets then drop into the standards and are easily adjustable to any height I need. And the final reason for the metal rack is because I already had a bunch of this stuff laying around from our old garage setup (not woodworking related). The big drawback of this system is that the components are not cheap. But I already had most of the parts on hand so I only had to spend a few more bucks to finish out the rack.

Waste Not, Want Not!

Now I know what some of you are thinking already: “This guy is so wasteful! He built that beautiful wood rack and plywood storage cart and now he’s building something new!?!” Well, fret not my friends! You’ll be glad to know that my old plywood roll-out cart was fully disassembled and cannibalized for several new shop projects, including these bins and my clamp racks. Nearly every part of these scrap bins will come from the old plywood cart, including the screws! Norm’s New Yankee frugality has nothin’ on me!

Construction

The dimensions of the bins really aren’t all that critical. Most times, you’ll simply conform to the space you have available. In my case I was also limited by the dimensions of the recycled materials I was using as a starting point. Each bin side was cut to size and notched at the bottom/back corner. The notch allows each piece to sit flush against the wall while leaving room for the baseboards. I also cut a short angle at the top/front corner of each piece for the sake of a nicer appearance and to reduce the hazards associated with sharp corners. I then attached several pieces of 2 x 3 construction lumber to the wall to act as supports. Each bin side was then screwed to the side of its respective 2 x 3. Can’t get much simpler than that!! You might notice that I made a late-game decision to remove the center 2×3, resulting in a larger center bin.

The final step is to attach a narrow foot board. Not only will this stabilize the sides, it will also help keep the scrap wood from sliding out of the bins. Using another scrap piece from my old plywood rack, I marked the location of each bin side with a pencil and used the tablesaw to cut dados in the appropriate locations. For a shop project like this, there’s nothing easier than taking measurements directly from the work itself. The fit was pretty much perfect. Relative dimensioning for the win!

When it’s all said and done, using some scrap material and a single construction grade 2 x 3, I have all the scrap storage I could possibly need……for now anyway!

As always, if you have thoughts on how I might improve the design, feel free to let me know. It might be too late for me to make major changes but for the sake of others who might be searching for a scrap bin plan, it would be very helpful.

*Update* - The first few comments reminded me of one last detail I failed to include in the article. After the bins were assembled, I cut a few pieces of scrap 1/4″ plywood and dropped them into the bottom of each bin. This helps protect the concrete as well as the wood. Moisture isn’t much of an issue in Arizona but I still don’t want the wood resting directly on concrete.

Categories: Projects, The Shop

Comments

  1. josh dick November 13, 2012

    sitting the wood’s endgrain on concrete? I know you did epoxy floors, but are you concerned about wicking up moisture?

  2. Must be nice living in the desert and being able to place scrap directly on the concrete floor. For the rest of us that get to drink water regularly, it would probably be best to keep the material off the concrete if for nothing other than keeping a like material with a like material so the consistency in moisture and heating and cooling will prevent condensation.

    •  

      I should probably add that one last detail. I didn’t have a picture of it so I didn’t remember. I actually placed a few pieces of 1/4″ ply in the bottom of each bin. Arizona or not, I prefer my scrap to have a little barrier between it and the floor.

  3. Jason November 13, 2012

    an angled back up against the wall would have been good then you could have slid your festool tracks in behind.

  4. John R November 13, 2012

    Looks nice. I need to finally build a rack. I have about 300 board feet of cherry and white oak sitting in my father’s garage waiting to be moved to my shop. Do you feel you needed to put a shelf support on each stud for the weight distribution? I was debating going every other.

    •  

      It was more of a belt and suspenders decision. I honestly don’t know the total weight capacity nor do I know the total weight of the lumber. So I felt putting a standard on each stud was just a safer way to go. Ultimately, it is probably overkill.

  5. Very timely post! I’m in the process of building out lumber storage in my shop right now. I designed an integrated sheet goods storage until with slots on the front for miscellaneous pieces. The lumber rack will have to be separate. Thanks for sharing. I will blog about mine once it is complete.

  6. Dean November 13, 2012

    Just remember to keep the lower racks full of lumber. It sure looks like someone could impale themselves on those pointy cantilever brackets!

  7. Charlton November 13, 2012

    Looks good and certainly easy enough to build…the problem is, I don’t have any wall space left. :( I need a shop like yours, Marc!

  8. jim_ny November 13, 2012

    I still love the other one you made for plywood. I made that last year tremendous space saver. I will have to try the latest one

    •  

      This new system doesn’t detract at all from the previous one. They both have their merits for sure. Honestly, if you gave me 10 different opportunities to set up a shop, I’d probably find 10 different way to organize and store things.

  9. Ron November 13, 2012

    Boy, I wish I had room for anymore scrap wood. I have to think of something to build out of scrap as we speak. Nice job Mark.

  10. TennesseeYankee November 13, 2012

    Most of my cut offs are much shorter or thinner. What do you suggest for those? Maybe the fireplace?

    • Kevin November 13, 2012

      I got some big plastic stacking bins from Mcfeely’s. They are super strong, I’ll actually use them as short scaffolding from time to time by throwing a piece of plywood on top, or as a tool tote if I need to bring a bunch of crap to help out somewhere. Of course this entails dumping out the contents. But honestly at this point it’s a very rare day indeed when a piece of wood that has entered the bins actually returns to find a use. They are more like holding bins until they get so full that I have to cull out the smallest stuff, which happens after the aforementioned dumping out.

    •  

      A local turner or scroll sawyer? :)

      • Barbara May 4, 2014

        All is well BUT I have a metal storage shed! Any. Suggestions? Thanks!

  11. John Fitz November 13, 2012

    Nicely done. It’s good to see you channel your “inner Norm” !

  12. David November 13, 2012

    Banged up 5 gallon buckets work in a pinch. I have one or more for each species’ shorts.

  13. Jose l. Varela November 14, 2012

    Me it does not seem that the container of the first shop tape-worm mas capacity, that the current one, I am preparing my new workshop and my near one, work is the booth of the scrap, seems to my me to be better the first one also to put almost entire boards in the second one seems to be impossible, and now I hesitate to do one or other one.

    Grace does to me enough your problem of dampness in Arizona, (Arizona in Spanish means arid zone) where I live, Galicia Spain is a problem, in autumn spring and winter and in less measured in summer, it if it is a problem.

    A greeting.

  14. Mike November 14, 2012

    Hmmm, you canniblized your sheet cart to build the bins. Where does the sheet goods go?

  15. Kyle Heon November 14, 2012

    Which metal rack system did you go with? Something simple from the local Home Depot or Lowes?

  16. Thomas G. Kaiser November 14, 2012

    I thought it would be bigger.

  17. Texas Ted November 14, 2012

    Hey, with the price of hardwood, who needs a rack?

  18. I’ve just bought some commercial wood racks by Triton for my newly built shop. This article has come in handy as I too need a storage method to store off cuts. This is food for thought. Thanks for the timely reminder Marc.

  19. VitalBodies November 15, 2012

    You seem to have a little wood and a lot of space. Do you have any suggestions for those that need a much higher density solution? Meaning you need to pack in way more wood. As always I like this site and your videos. You are on round, uh, I lost count, of setting up shop, so you have real experience here :)

    Love the new shop Marc!

    •  

      If that’s “a little” wood I’d hate to see what “a lot” of wood looks like, lol. Honestly, this should be enough for the average woodworker. For someone who has a larger collection of shorts, you might need to redesign the whole thing entirely, and I don’t know how you can do what without consuming more space. The fundamental problem with scraps is that they are all different sizes, so that’s why large bins tends to be the go-to solution. I guess a horizontal shelf system might be an option, but if your shorts are 3-4′ long, you’re going to consume the space up to 4′ out from the wall. I’ve seen some good mobile carts with plywood and scrap storage on board. Those were pretty nice if you like the idea of a mobile solution.

      • VitalBodies November 15, 2012

        I am not even a pro wood worker and I have so much scrap. Not bragging, but trippin over the stuff and pondering what I call “high density” solutions. At one point I build what I called a “Lumber Rack Work Bench Version 2″.

        http://www.vitalbodies.net/sit.....ion-2.html

        If I did that project again I would have used bigger heavier duty wheels at the expense of a higher bench top. This project allowed me to be able to walk around in the (2 car garage) shop again!
        And I am hoping to get a “real” table saw which will go where this bench currently resides in the middle of the shop.

        This wood was hardly even the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. I later had to build a 16 foot long outdoor work bench to help lighten the indoor load (both to use up wood and store wood). I have over head racks for long stuff and flat sheets. I think what makes for so much extra wood is reclaiming wood, wood working and remodeling all combined. I have boxes and boxes of scraps in addition, in every size and some of them ply boards. But once again, I am out of space.

        I FULLY agree that the challenge is that there are so many sizes of scraps. And you do not want anything hidden or buried too deep. Stacks have to be human lift able if possible if you ever want to use that bottom board again. A fork lift is not an option!

        One idea I saw in a Google photo search for the key words “ultimate miter saw bench” was where the scraps were stored (oddly enough) leaning against the wall vertically behind the miter saw bench. Although that stuck me a bit odd at first glance, it makes sense. It is often where you create and use the scrap. They left a bench long partitioned space behind the bench top of the miter station. As you know the bench top has “no business” going all the way to the wall as the saw can not cut that far back anyway. This idea left the whole wall as a free-for-all scrap storage area. The whole wall meaning the length of the bench which for many shops is really quite long. You could still have you cabinets in front of that if not overly deep.

        While some have distanced themselves from the miter saw in favor of the table saw sled or sliding table saw (for whatever many reasons) others might gain from the reuse of that space behind one of the largest benches in some/many shops.

        Your solution could work behind a miter station with perhaps minimal or no modification for example. Wood above and behind the bench with your metal racks above and partitioned spaces below. You would know best where you need you miter saw of course which might be elsewhere.

        Forgive the typos. I am on an iPad and for some odd reason your blog (while commenting) is really slow, like an echoed delayed reaction while typing. Might be the iPad, not sure, but I have not seen this elsewhere.

        Love the blog, no complaints…

        And so, did no one else ask, what? No doggie door in the shop?

  20. I have similar supports for my ductless mini split A/C unit (the outside bit is mounted on the wall, not resting one the ground). They are right at eye level and pretty easy to run into when walking by.

    As an “impalement preventer” I took a few of the tennis balls that the dog had mostly destroyed, cut a hole in the side, and shoved them on. Basically, just like the back legs of an older person’s walker.

    James

  21. KenOfCary November 17, 2012

    Sorry to get off topic, but did you mention the floor in the new shop is concrete. I struggled with this for years of sore feet and knees, until finally installing a product called OVRX Barricade Flooring. I no longer need all of the rubber pads that surrounded my equipment or any station were I stood much. Check it out, your feet will thank you.

    – Ken.

  22. Richard from Ireland November 22, 2012

    Hey need some advice I just built a massive metal pallet racking platform in my workshop 9 ft x 4 ft and I put cross members every two ft is this enough support for boards or do I need them closer together to stop sagging warping. Will be storing for a long time elm planks 1 inch thick and 20 cubic feet of it and don’t want it to warp. Got offered it for free has been air drying for 20 years+ . Any advice would be great

  23. Roger December 7, 2012

    I built a similar rack for my scraps. I added dividers to it so I could keep the different lengths separate. It has worked out pretty well. The only problem is I tend to keep scraps that I should probably toss so it gets pretty packed sometimes. Heck, as much as some hardwoods cost, it’s really hard for me to throw away even the small scraps.

    I just moved the rack to a different part of my shop to make room for something else so I was able to get some pictures of it empty and then after I put my scraps back in it. It doesn’t usually look as neat as it does now and I’m sure it won’t last long..

    http://www.woodtalkonline.com/.....ood-rack1/
    http://www.woodtalkonline.com/.....ood-rack3/

  24. Dave December 10, 2012

    Nice, clean solution! I’ve been using 5 gal buckets for the longest time, but this is definitely much less of an eye sore!

  25. Marc – Where did you get the commercial lumber racks that you now use?

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