The making of anything is likely to result in some wastage of materials, and wooden surfboards are no exception. But how much you waste and what you subsequently do with that material is very much in the hands of the maker and it is a responsibility that we take very seriously here at Otter Surfboards.
The processing of wood from tree through to a finished product, surfboards included, is likely to result in the wastage of approximately 30% of the original tree – which is huge. First of all an uneven, round, shape has to have all of the corners knocked off to turn it into more familiar, use-able planks. We then take those planks from the sawmill, rip them down into thinner planks and cut them to length. Each time a saw blade passes through the timber the width of the saw blade is lost as sawdust, which on the big industrial saws at the mill means about 5mm every pass.
We then plane and sand down the planks or cut and rout them into rail strips. When all is said and done we have a finished surfboard, and bags of offcuts, shavings and sawdust. Here’s the first of a three part series
looking at what we do with our wooden wastage in the hope of making the most of what we have:
We have two extractor units in the
workshop. One is connected to the bandsaw whilst the other gets swapped between the thicknessing planer, the thicknessing sander, and the random orbital sander that we use to finish the boards. These machines produce a lot of sawdust, all of which is collected in large bags that we have to empty periodically. But what can you do with sawdust? Give it to pet shops to sell to hamster owners? Otter Surfboards alone probably produces enough sawdust for every hamster in Cornwall, but luckily for us there is a local company who also produce a lot of sawdust and have found a good use for it. Every couple of months we load the big bags of sawdust into the back of the van and take it down to L&R Furniture just outside Falmouth, who run Unique Ecofuels. We time these trips with a visit to their near-by neighbours Woodstock too so that we can then fill the empty van with their hardwood offcuts for our accent strips. Unique Ecofuels take our sawdust (and that produced by their parent company) and compress it into fuel blocks for use in woodburning stoves. These are distributed and sold around Cornwall and help to keep people warm through the winter months, a worthy final utilization of an otherwise useless waste product. If you live in Cornwall and are interested in keeping the home fires burning using Unique Ecofuels sawdust blocks next winter then click here for more details. Next time…what we do with our wood shavings.