Scrap Wood Projects & Putting Leftover Lumber to Good Use

This month, we’ve taken on quite a handful of projects to get loose ends tied up on our homestead. We’ve made great headway on our diy hot tub and hot tub deck (main projects of the month), but those two projects alone left us with a lot of smaller tasks to complete as well as a pile of leftover lumber! In this post, we want to share with you some of the scrap wood projects we’ve completed !

On a journey such as this (building a home and starting a homestead from scratch), being resourceful is critical. As you will see, we carefully track all expenses on our property and while we aren’t immune to spending mass quantities of money, we try to solve problems without money frequently.

While some wood such as this is pretty much only good to burn, we always have plenty of usable lumber on our property!
While some wood such as this is pretty much only good to burn, we always have plenty of usable lumber on our property!

In addition to having scrap wood from various projects, we’ve also been able to find loads of second-hand building materials for next to nothing, including lumber, and also demolished a barn / house where we were able to pull out a full trailer load of reclaimed lumber. We also did a lot of cleanup on our property including cleaning up the branches from trees we fell, and we also had a lot of leftover lumber from our diy hot tub project.

What were we to do with all of this lumber?

We aren’t a fan of hoarding materials OR having a messy-looking property, so we decided to put these materials to good use on our smaller projects. In this post, we want to share with you just some of our projects to show you that it is possible to build beautiful things with scrap lumber!

Video Tour of Projects

We’ve put together a video tour for you of the projects, or for the nitty gritty details, keep on reading!

Our Favorite Scrap Wood Project: Adirondack Chairs

Once we had our hot tub deck completed, we knew we wanted some seating on the deck for our enjoyment and for the enjoyment of visitors. We found these plans from Ana White and went to work. The first set of chairs was built using cedar leftover from the building of our hot tub.

The second set of chairs was from random leftover fir on the property, some leftover 1×2 pine that we bought for some project but never put to use, and then we think a lumber fairy dropped off a few pieces of lumber that we used as the arms of the chairs.

adirondack chair scrap wood projects
The Adirondack chairs made out of leftover cedar hot tub materials!
Another shot of our cedar Adirondack chairs.
Another shot of our cedar Adirondack chairs.
Same plans but a slightly different look... built from leftover 1x2 pine and random fir from the lumber pile.
Same plans but a slightly different look… built from leftover 1×2 pine and random fir from the lumber pile.

Are these chairs perfect? No! Will we be able to pass them on to our kids or grand kids? Probably not! Is that okay? Totally!

We built these chairs for next to nothing out of lumber that could have gone to waste. We think they fit perfectly in with the entire look of the hot tub deck, so we are really stoked with these chairs, and they’re WAY more comfortable than our fold-up camping chairs that we were using!

Don’t Forget the Details: Steps Into the Hot Tub

When it was time to build steps up into the cedar hot tub, Jesse looked around the property to see what we could use. We had some leftover treated lumber that we bought for some project or another but never used it, so we cut a couple of risers out of those. We then used a few pieces of leftover cedar for the steps. Steps such as these are a great use for leftover lumber (when they’re needed, that is!) and it didn’t even cross our minds to run down to a building supply store for this project.

Steps into the hot tub built from scrap wood on the property.
Steps into the hot tub built from scrap wood on the property.

Again… we love the steps! Who cares that everything doesn’t match? Not us!

Steps to Our New Deck

Since we built our deck on a pretty steep hill, we knew we were going to need some stairs to get up to it, mostly for safety. While we could hop onto the deck, it really isn’t ideal or ideal for visitors.

We decided to put the stairs here which involved quite a bit of digging.
We decided to put the stairs here which involved quite a bit of digging.

We pondered many ways to go about making the stairs, but we kept coming back to the problem at hand – we had A LOT of lumber sitting in a pile and wanted to put it to use rather than let it rot.

A couple months prior, our neighbor let us have a bunch of railroad ties that he was going to burn. We decided that we could turn those into risers. A lot of the wood was too rotten to use, but we were able to pull out a couple solid pieces that will work for years to come. They likely won’t last a lifetime, but that’s okay!

Our stairs in progress... railroad ties, leftover 2" slabs milled with our chainsaw mill, and leftover cedar hot tub staves!
Our stairs in progress… railroad ties, leftover 2″ slabs milled with our chainsaw mill, and leftover cedar hot tub staves!

We then decided to use our 2″ (true 2″ that is) pine slabs milled the prior fall for the steps. We didn’t have a large amount of this so we figured stairs were a great use for it. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that it had turned to blue pine over the winter, so it gave the stairs that much more personality!

Our beautiful 2" thick blue pine slabs. Yes, those gouge marks are from our DIY chainsaw mill!
Our beautiful 2″ thick blue pine slabs. Yes, those gouge marks are from our DIY chainsaw mill!

In the end, we are in love with our stairs as we are with the rest of the deck! We did the math and concluded that we built the entire deck for under $400 because we’ve been so resourceful (learn how we made our own lumber). This validated our idea that it’s possible to build a nice home for much cheaper than buying one.

This, my friends, is what a labor of love looks like. Every last inch of this deck has a story to tell.
This, my friends, is what a labor of love looks like. Every last inch of this deck has a story to tell.

Branch Railing

One final thing we had to do to our deck to make it usable was secure some railing. We didn’t want to buy much for this either, so again, we turned to the materials already piled on our property.

As soon as the snow melted, we did branch clean-up. Little did we know these would turn into our deck railing!
As soon as the snow melted, we did branch clean-up. Little did we know these would turn into our deck railing!

Our eyes kept coming back to a pile of branches we had. The original plan was to turn this into firewood for the wood fired hot tub, we we figured that we could also use them for banisters. We thought through the idea, saw no reason not to do it, so we got to work pulling out branches that would do the job.

Our mountain of branches from the numerous trees we fell and turned into lumber.
Our mountain of branches from the numerous trees we fell and turned into lumber.

We did end up buying 2×2 lumber for the framework of the deck as we didn’t see that we had anything else super suitable, but we felt this was justified.

 Branch banisters? Why the heck not?!
Branch banisters? Why the heck not?!

What do you think? As with everything else, we love our railing! Every time we look at it we’re reminded of how we built it in a resourceful way – with materials that we already had and had gathered ourselves from our property. It was also the waste leftover from milling the lumber we used to build the entire deck.

hot-tub-deck

More Branches: Branch Tables

Once we had our deck completed, the railing on, the stairs attached, the hot tub done, and our chairs built, we needed tables so that we could have a place to set our delicious food!

By the time we arrived at the table project, our pile of usable lumber was looking pretty thing. We came up with all sort of table-like contraptions, but in the end, nothing looked good. I made the executive decision to attempt building tables out of branches, even though Jesse tried to steer me away from the idea. I’m the type of person that needs to learn things the hard way sometimes, firsthand, so off I went on my project.

In the end, we were able to successfully build tables out of branches and had just enough tongue and groove cedar leftover for the tops of the tables. The tables aren’t sturdy enough for someone to stand on, but that’s okay, because we don’t intend for anyone to stand on them! It’s also okay if they don’t last forever so for now, they’re working perfectly for our needs!

Branch tables! We love them, and love that they were built from nothing but scrap wood. Kiss our butts IKEA!
Branch tables! We love them, and love that they were built from nothing but scrap wood. Kiss our butts IKEA!

We’ve already enjoyed multiple dinners on our deck and let me tell you – these have been the best damn dinners we’ve had since we arrived on our property. I don’t know if it’s that the food is just THAT good, or if it’s because it’s our first somewhat relaxing summer in years, our property is pretty comfortable, we’re reducing our stress one day at a time, and we get to enjoy meals on a deck we built from materials mostly from our own land. If this is what it’s like to enjoy dinners on our deck, we can’t even imagine the pride that will come from building our own home.

Just for Fun: A General Store Birdhouse

I wasn’t quite done using up scrap wood, so I decided to build a birdhouse just for fun. I found these plans for a general store birdhouse and we to work. Even though this project was small, it did use up the remainder of the reddish lumber (the stuff that randomly appeared in our lumber pile one day) and I got to put it together with a brad nailer which is a new tool for me, even though it’s a pretty simple tool known by many!

PS... if you're new to our blog, we have a couple of ferocious Bengal kitties in our family.
PS… if you’re new to our blog, we have a couple of ferocious Bengal kitties in our family.

We love this birdhouse. It’s also perfectly imperfect and it makes us happy when we look at it. What’s wrong with that?

Wrapping it up: Again, make do with what you have!

These ideas are pretty unique! Totally doable! #homestead #homesteading #diy #woodwork #woodworkingWhile we are never opposed to buying stuff new when necessary, we always ask ourselves the questions “can we do this project without running down to the store to buy materials or new tools for the homestead?” and oftentimes, the answer is yes.

There will be many projects on our homestead where using wood scraps wouldn’t be a wise idea, like when it’s critical that every component is uniform. However, we continue to find a balance between buying materials, milling materials ourselves, and using whatever we have already laying on the property!

Get involved – let us know your thoughts!

What do you think? Do you feel that you have a good balance of making do with what you have and buying things new? What is that balance for you? Always love to hear your thoughts!

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

Comments

  1. Dustin Horn says

    When are you starting on the propane tank stove and cedar Sauna?
    Loving the way the deck and hot tub turned out and that is coming from a fellow craftperson.
    With so much extra wood you really should make up some raised bed frames

    • says

      For now, we decided to go the wood stove route for the tub and we actually installed it last night! Hope to do a post on it soon. I don’t think we’ll have a sauna any time soon… neither of us are really fans of them. Yes, raised beds will be in our future!

      • Dustin says

        How are you going to keep from accidentally touching a several hundred degree stove in your tub that is just inches away?

        Are you going to drain the tub often (issue with wood joints) or leave it full and treat water? 150+ gallon of water (use for septic or garden)

        These are all things I’m considering before building mine.
        Mine will likely be cedar too, but with a black plastic tank inside (livestock tank most likely). I will make a cover with 2″ Foam Board to keep it hot in winter.

        Again, Fine Craftsmanship!

        • says

          Great questions! We built a fence to keep from bumping into the stove. I don’t think the stove is THAT hot, but a simple fence should do the trick provided you aren’t a complete and total idiot (or anyone you are inviting to hot tub with you). We plan on leaving it full always and treating it with concentrated hydrogen peroxide. We may also drain it monthly or something like that but would then fill it up immediately as to not leave it dry. We also bought a filter and a small pump to help keep things clean… hopefully this will run on a small solar panel. We aren’t sure what we’ll do for a cover yet or how we’ll winterize it, so that can be an issue, but I’m sure we’ll find something! You might be able to get away with just cedar (no tank) if you do it right but maybe you have other reasons for wanting a tank inside :-)

  2. says

    These look great guys! LOVE the deck and tub! Did I spy a tree house up on your property? Something that was there, or did you throw one together?

    • says

      Thanks Kelsey! Yes, we have a tree-ish house on the property! The neighbor’s kids built it when they were young, and they’re now our age. I think we’ll leave it for more kids to enjoy in the future! It should be a great source of entertainment with a small amount of TLC.

  3. Kendra says

    Great job on all of the things you have accomplished, especially for not having any carpenter skills yet! You’re doing phenomenal!! Cute bird house too!!!

  4. Brian Mulligan ( Tek ) says

    Hi guys we are watching you as you go on your journey , we live in Australia and are doing to same as you. We brought 25 acres of bush
    And live in a 20 ft caravan on the property breaking it in .you are about a year ahead of us , so it’s great to see how you are going and this helps us .isn,t it funny you live half way around the world and we feel we know you better than our neighbours . We moved on to the block in March and have been cut trees for road in and home site
    Love to talk to you by email and share differences between cold and hot climates . We have two jack Russell s as well
    kind regards Tek ,Shaz , skitch, scooter,

    • says

      How exciting! Yes, it’s really funny how we can feel more connected to people halfway around the world than we do our neighbors. We try to build strong local connections, but we don’t know many other people in our area that are doing something similar, although we do run into them time to time! Sounds like you have a great start to your land. You must be talking about Australia being a cold climate… I thought Australia was pretty hot?! At least on the west side where I assume the majority of the population is?

  5. Rook says

    Keep up the great work… My wife and I are following along so we can plan our escape before we retire to have the home we want before we even get to retirement age.

    Keep living the dream…

  6. John Brunton says

    I like your hot tub project. Pretty clever!

    When do you think you may get started on your house? Are you up for another winter in your current arrangement? How bearable is your trailer during all that heat you’re having?

    I’m turning 61 this month and planning on taking an early retirement next year and doing something fun for a change. Your videos inspire me. We have a nice place in Central Kentucky (near state capital) we’re working on but a couple things do concern me – taking care of a larger place (I’m not getting any younger) and the expense of having a larger place (taxes, ins, etc) on a retirement income.

    Keep posting your progress – I enjoy your inspiration.

    • says

      Hey John! We aren’t sure when we’ll get started on the house. The deceiving part is that we’re already heavy into planning but even planning and observing our land takes time. I suspect we will start laying out the foundation this year but once we start, I think things can progress quickly. We’re still trying to free up bandwidth so we can focus all energy on the house rather than being scattered.

      I think ultimately, it could be wise to have the smallest place you can be comfortable in, but also accounting for other things important to you (some space for guests, maybe?). Yes, larger place can mean larger taxes as well! I’m sure you’ll be able to find a fun project that suits your needs and lifestyle.

      Keep in touch!

  7. Jana says

    Always enjoyed your videos/blog of your homesteading journey and have always looked forward to experiencing homesteading through YOU both until we can really do it too!

    Enjoyed this less though, because you peppered your language with euphemisms like “friggin” or less than stellar descriptors. I’m hearing negative vibes when you express yourself this way. (We get that this is not an easy life!) And I DO appreciate the fact you didn’t use the really offensive word for “friggin” but even “substitute” words can really add “hiccups” to your message. Just cut “friggin, butt, damn” etc. and you’ll have said what you hoped to say and with plenty of punch! In the past I’ve shared your challenging and courageous lifestyle, and I hope to be able to do this in the future.

  8. Elizabeth Fuerst says

    You are ingenious and very hard working. All of your hot tub and chair projects look professionally done and so comfortable to lounge back in and enjoy the scenery.

    The only concern I have is for the birds that may make a home in your new Bengal grocery store. Please tell us that your intention for building the Bengal grocery store was not to provide an easy way for your Bengals to capture and eat birds. Let them eat mice, not birds, please.

    • says

      The bird house is just decoration right now but we’ll put it in a place out of their reach. We think it will be a fun Bengal baby sitter if the birds use it. They don’t need a bird house to catch birds… they do just fine without one!

  9. Clifford Butten says

    I’m very impressed I’ve been watching you guys since the beginning I’m a Canadian living in Toronto Ontario I plan on leaving to British Columbia after I sell my house here I am going to live off the grid in the woods but I will like to put it on YouTube I would love to hear from you thank you no rush eh!

  10. says

    I love the scrap wood projects you’ve done. The carpentry skills are much better than mine. I’ve managed to build a shed for a Lister generator, some decking and some odd bits and pieces. None of them are anything like as nice as yours but do the job. Here in the UK I find industrial estates to be really good sources of scrap wood and metal. Most businesses are delighted for you to take it away as it saves money on the high waste removal fees here. Good luck with your project.

    • says

      That’s a great suggestion Pete, and I’m sure your projects look lovely! Besides… your average American couldn’t build anything out of scrap wood so if you’ve built anything at all you’re doing a great job! We’ve also found that asking if we see what looks like a scrap lumber pile frequently yields great results. We’ve been to garage sales where there is lumber and they didn’t list it for sale, but they say “Take it!” when we ask if it’s available :-)

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