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Thread: Ways to get good wood cheap, or for free

  1. #1
    Senior Member Skinner's Avatar
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    Default Ways to get good wood cheap, or for free

    A knife handle is a rather small piece of wood. You are looking for quality rather than quantity. I have found that small scraps of excellent wood are usually available for free, or at a very nominal cost.

    Home Depot, Lowe's, or any lumberyard where they sell hardwood will usually have a pile of cut offs availabale for very nominal cost, or even free. I've noticed the big box stores don't sort the wood, and I've found some really nice tiger maple mixed in with regular stock.

    Distorted grain makes for an attractive pattern, but is often difficult to machine by modern production methods. The local hardwood milling company discards pieces with fantastic grain patterns. Also ends and cut-offs too short for any other purpose are easily long enough for knife handles. They charge $30 a pickup truck load for their Maple and Oak "firewood".

    Likewise a local ruler company charges a nominal fee for their Basswood (good for sheath liners) and Beech "firewood". I'm told that venitain blinds are often made of basswood as well. These would be just about thick enough for sheath liners.

    A local furnature factory discards any turnings that are not perfect. Since they have to pay to have the scrap hauled away, they are happy to supply all the maple chair and table legs you wish. I heated the house one winter with the discards, and have a lifetime supply of tool handles for files and chisels.

    Fruit wood (Apple, Pear, Cherry, etc.) is a true delight to work. It has a wonderful mellow texture and color. Historically it was a favorite for knife handles and gunstocks. It is often available free when orchards are cut down or pruned.

    Packing crates from the tropical countries are often made of rough cut exotic hardwoods. Is there a motercycle shop near you?

    Discarded furnature can be another source. A leg from a broken maple or cherry table will make six or seven handles. Old furnature will of course be perfectly seasoned. Broken gunstocks yeald walnut knife handles. You may be able to recycle a damaged family heirloom.

    Don't overlook the source, trees. Is there a recently fallen hardwood tree in your area? Dead and standing trees will be well seasoned, and are seldom rotted. If you can take a section from a crotch, you will be guaranteed an interesting, tight, grain. Bringing home a piece of surplus firewood from a campout or hike can be a way to evoke treasured memories whenever you use the knife you make from it.

    These are just a few ideas that have worked for me. Use your imagination. Happy scrounging!
    To Fail Is to Learn from your Mistakes and Advanced off of that Failure.


  2. #2
    Senior Member BornthatWay's Avatar
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    Hey really great ideas now if I only had the talent.

  3. #3
    reclinite automaton canid's Avatar
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    I have cut and seasoned some very fine walnut from trees removed from a friend's property and my lady's house. In having a conversation with the tree removal guy who came out to take out the one here, I learned that he removes all manner of interesting hardwoods. It all goes into the stump grinder. every inch of it. He was curious as to why I was selectively removing pieces from that tree before he could grind them up, and seemed astounded (and incredulous) when I told him that he was grinding up countless thousands of dollars worth of fine figured wood on the gnarly, burly trees. You can roughly mill boards quickly and easily with a chainsaw, at least well enough re-saw on a table saw. I've even split them with an ax for resawing at a pinch, and done the resawing with a handsaw. Keep in mind what Skinner said; you only need to end up with small pieces for this purpose.
    For a given claim: When the kernel of truth within is disconcerting enough, do you really think rolling it all up in a particularly thick veneer of steamy BS is going to help your case?
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    Senior Member Sparky93's Avatar
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    We got a saw mill down the road that gives away end cut offs for free to people wanting firewood. When I was little (probably about 10), my dremel and I made quite a few into boomerangs lol
    "Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I have found that most towns still have a custom cabinet shop somewhere. These establishments prefer hard maple for their frames and it often has excellent figure in the grain. I have a couple of knife handles and a couple of hawk handles made from cabinet scraps.
    One "Oh $H!T" cancels out a thousand at-a-boys.

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    reclinite automaton canid's Avatar
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    The guy at the local hardwood shop makes a point to ask customers what they make while they shop. If they're cabinet/furniture makers, hides the good stuff.
    For a given claim: When the kernel of truth within is disconcerting enough, do you really think rolling it all up in a particularly thick veneer of steamy BS is going to help your case?
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    To see more of my bladesmithing, visit CanidArmory or check us out on Facebook.

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    Senior Member Winter's Avatar
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    I got in good with local woodworkers. Turners, clock makers, pen makers. I have a bunch or purple heart for free. Hardware stores discard flooring samples is all kinds of woods. Yardsales are a great place to get antlers, which are a favorite of mine.
    I had a compass, but without a map, it's just a cool toy to show you where oceans and ice are.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Skinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Winter View Post
    I got in good with local woodworkers. Turners, clock makers, pen makers. I have a bunch or purple heart for free. Hardware stores discard flooring samples is all kinds of woods. Yardsales are a great place to get antlers, which are a favorite of mine.
    Yep I Hit Yard Sales But Peopel Want to Sell you the Whole Head and the Memory's With it and the Price to Boot. There's a New Guy At the Flea Market Selling Skins and Antlers .30 Bucks for a Coon Tail and Wants 20 to 50 for a Small 4 Point And 5 to 10 for Pices .
    So I Stick With Wood and Micarta Have Alot of Both
    If you Ever Want to Trade Let Me Know.
    To Fail Is to Learn from your Mistakes and Advanced off of that Failure.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Winter's Avatar
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    I'll keep ya in mind.
    I had a compass, but without a map, it's just a cool toy to show you where oceans and ice are.

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