Saturday, December 25, 2004

Waste not, want not

As the title of this blog suggests, I make a lot of chips in my workshop, but they are all just by-products. That is not to say they go to waste. We have all sorts of uses for them. Some are used as cat litter, probably not the ideal material, but they cost nothing and seem to be acceptable to the cats, and the output from the litter tray is compostable. In summer, much of my woodchip output goes on the compost heap anyway, and when mixed with grass cuttings and other organic waste they break down reasonably well. Another outdoor use is on some of the paths out back, but they rot away too quickly to be anything but a temporary solution to muddy patches. During winter I burn quite a lot of woodchips in the workshop woodstove. They don't burn that well since they compact, but if they are thrown into the back of the stove and a few sticks put on top, they burn away slowly, which is all I need once I have got my well-insulated workshop up to a comfortable temperature. Finally, I save the nice curly shavings that come from bowl turning for use in firelighting. They have lots of air space around them and need little encouragement to start a roaring fire.

By-products, however useful, are not desirable. I try to use as much of my wood supply as I possibly can for finished items. It doesn't take a very large piece of wood to make a bottle stopper, a spurtle or an inlay for a weedpot. All the chunks which are of no use are stored in feed sacks and saved for the woodstove in winter.