Kindling for a Cause

My wife, Erika, doesn’t like to waste anything. Her mother came from the Old Country and frugality was a way of life in her house. After all, many immigrants arrived at the New World with very little. My family wasn’t as interested in saving and Erika saw me as wasteful when we merged our lives together. Over 25 years ago, when I started working in the shop of The Loft Bed Store, I would occasionally bring home a couple buckets of scrap wood; small, 0r randomly sized chunks of kiln dried cherry, oak, walnut, and mahogany known as mill ends. We’d use this in our small condo fireplace since we couldn’t afford to purchase seasoned firewood for our occasional fires. She couldn’t believe this stuff was just thrown out. (After all, her mother would have found a way to build a house with it or sell it on Ebay.) But in creating furniture, the fact is that every single inch of wood just isn’t usable. Though the shop guys are very cognizant of using each piece of lumber to its fullest potential, there are sap stains, splits and other irregularities that need to be cut around. Then each piece needs to be edged, squaring it up, and other trim scraps are added to the pile. Admittedly, it is tough seeing all this beautiful hardwood tossed. Well, not exactly tossed. We do send it to the local landfill, to be ground up with other things like yard waste and used Christmas trees. That mixture is turned into mulch.

When Erika and I moved and started heating our home primarily with a wood-burning stove and made fires with regularity, we started cutting our own firewood from dead and downed trees on our property. And to get each fire started with ease, there’s nothing like dried wood scraps from the shop! I started bringing home boxes of thin wood “sticks” for kindling, all cut to about 15” by myself or the guys in the shop. When family and friends saw this at our home, they wanted some too. So I’d bring home more. These days, my brother-in-law requests a truckload of kindling for his home every year or two. We make up a couple boxes of for neighbors as Christmas gifts every year. And though my father converted to a gas fireplace, he still likes me to bring him over scraps to burn in the chiminea on the back deck.

Even after supplying several families with this kindling, it doesn’t begin to make a dent in the amount of scrap our production shop ends up with every day. Recently Erika thought maybe others might want to secure some of this nice kindling, keeping even more out of the landfill and giving it a second purpose. So I’ve been bringing home a couple truckloads of cutoffs ranging in lengths up to 5’ or so. She unloads the wood into our home workshop and cuts everything to similar lengths. Then she makes bundles and secures each one with leather or upholstery remnants from showroom floor model projects, re-purposing those scraps also. I’ve dropped these bundles off at each of our showrooms for customers to take. They’re not for sale, but we do ask that a small donation be made to benefit local no-kill animal shelters. We invite all our customers with either indoor or outdoor fireplaces to consider using some of our scrap wood to help warm their families and help a good cause. Who knows- some of those kindling sticks might have come from your very own furniture order!

2 thoughts on “Kindling for a Cause

  1. This article is a lesson to us all, on how to really value and work with everything that we have at our disposal. This approach is and has always been the philosophy of the world’s indigenous peoples. Thx for sharing :)

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