This is the second blog post that we are publishing in our short “Down The Line” series, which aims to share with you (our friends, customers and followers) exactly what we do with the waste that we produce as a by-product of building hollow wooden surfboards. As we mentioned in Part 1, there is no getting away from the production of waste in any industry; in our small industry wood goes from a round shape (the tree) to rectangular planks and then back to a rounded, surfboard, shape and each time a noticeable amount of sawdust, shavings and offcuts are generated. Unfortunately we can’t avoid this, but what we can do is consider how we can minimise waste in our production processes and how we can best use the waste material that we do generate and find another use for it. Part 1 of this short series looked at what we do with our sawdust and now it is the turn of the shavings that end up on the workshop floor.
Shavings are generated when we start to shape the surfboard’s rails using a hand plane, and they are the characteristic thin, curly, piece of wood that is shaved off and which falls onto the floor. Making the most out of these wood shavings doesn’t even involve them leaving the workshop as we can use them, as they are, right here. We sweep them all up and collect them in a box over by the handplane workbench. When somebody places an order for a bodysurfing handplane a small cardboard box is folded together and filled with these wood shavings as an alternative protective packaging material to horrible foam pellets or plastic bubblewrap. The shavings hold the handplane in place and protect it from being rattled around inside the box, whilst their stiff and curly nature means that they have a lot of air gaps in-between them so the protective packaging material weighs barely anything and doesn’t affect our postage rates. Once the postie has delivered the handplane to the customer they can then either compost the wood shavings, or use them as kindling on their fire so they can keep on being of use.
Sometimes we have such a run on handplanes that the box of wood shavings gets pretty low. We often have small offcuts though that are too short to use for anything else and so these are planed down into shavings for packaging too. It’s quite a pleasant, almost meditative, job standing there with a small block plane slowly whittling a small offcut down into nothing but a pile of curly shavings at the end of a long day. It’s like a warm down from the focused, exacting, nature of the making that goes on here and it’s nice to know that we’re trying our best to make the most of every little piece of material that passes through the workshop.