Crafty Ideas for Using Up Your EL (Extra Lumber)

When we ship out our cottage and shed kits, we send some extra lumber, known on our cut lists as EL. This lumber, included for fixing mistakes or replacing broken pieces, is usually not needed. Kits, stacked on a wooden pallet, include temporary bracing. After you complete building your shed kit, you will most likely have the extra lumber, temporary bracing, and the pallet leftover with nowhere to go. So why not come up with some crafty project ideas for using up your extra wood and lumber? Tossing it in a landfill is expensive and burning the wood in a firepit feels equally wasteful. We prefer the sustainable choice of repurposing the extra lumber into functional pieces of art or furniture.

Here is a slick concept for using up your leftover wood. Try making some small raised garden beds or fence posts.
Pallet lumber can be crafted into raised garden beds or used for fencing.

What Wood Will Be Left Over

Extra lumber in a typical kit will usually include several pieces of 1x4 rough cut hemlock lumber for temporary bracing and one or two 1x12 rough sawn pine boards for replacing siding. Pallets are constructed of rough sawn hemlock and are exposed to the elements as the kit is transported to its destination. The pallet usually has two runners, then several shorter pieces, laid on top of the runners perpendicularly. Thinner strips of wood are used to fill in gaps in the stacked materials to keep the entire pallet stable. These strips, also called stickers, are not needed in the construction of your kit either. You will need the temporary bracing to hold up the wall framing of your kit as you build and can also be used as a substitute for broken or missing framing pieces. In other words, don't start these craft projects until your kit is built.

Workbench made out of rough sawn hemlock lumber pallets is a crafty idea for using up your EL (extra lumber).
Workbench constructed of pallet lumber.

Super Simple Stuff

When I built my 8x8 Vermonter shed kit, I had a couple of 2x4s, and a 1x12 left over. My building partner laid a piece of 1x12 pine lumber on top of the wall beams to create a temporary shelf. The shelf comes in handy for storing gardening tools, flowerpots, and other pieces of lumber. Or chop the pine into smaller lengths and attach it to wooden or metal brackets to build a narrower shelving system.

With a quick internet search, you can find oodles of easy and small woodworking projects. One of my favorites is a candleholder built out of a 2x4 and two horseshoes attached at each end. Another woodworker crafted a small wooden planter for hanging succulents on a wall. Frames for stretching artist-grade canvases are easy to make by cutting 45-degree angles in the 1x4 lumber. Then glue them together to form a rectangle or square. Do you have a drill gun with a variety of drill bits in various sizes? You can drill holes into a 2x4 to hold pencils, pens and paint brushes.  

Intermediate Crafty Projects

For those who are more daring, there are some slightly more challenging projects you could take on. This ergonomic footrest resembles one of our shed ramps yet looks easy to achieve. I found a garment stand built by crisscrossing two pairs of 1x4 boards and attaching a closet rod. Increase the stability of the clothing rack by making a shoe shelf on the bottom with a piece of 1x12 pine. While scanning Reddit I found this excellent YouTube video of a modern take on an Adirondack chair made out of pallet wood. The final result is a piece of furniture that mixes minimalist style with a rustic aesthetic that can be stored flat. Scan Pinterest to find all kinds of art projects mixing and matching various pieces of lumber blocks together to create geometric designs.

Let Your Creativity Run Wild

Once you have your craft project constructed sand it down and add some primer and paint. Practice wood burning or hand engraving to personalize with names, drawings of cute animals and plants, or repeating patterns. Modge podge cut outs from magazines, old books, or photocopies to create a collage on your woodworking project. Since this lumber is essentially disposable you don’t have to worry about mistakes or making your final product perfect. Now is the time to experiment!  

Rustic Architectural Details

Recently one of our community members sent us photos of a barn kit they built as an addition to their home. They let us know that they did not want to waste any part of the kit. They ingeniously took apart the pallet, stained the wood, and attached the runners to their ceiling for a faux beam. With the smaller pieces of hemlock, they created matching windowsills to tie the room together. The extra pine was attached to the windows outside to create custom shutters.

This made me think about other ways you could tie your extra lumber into your building so I came up with a few more ideas. Rough sawn brackets can be fashioned to mock the post and beam framing used in the interior of your building. Build two of these to attach a small overhang over your door. Or use them to build a mailbox post. Practice carving stickers into ornate shapes and add to the trim under your roof.

Conclusion

Sustainability is one of our core values so we love any opportunity to reduce, reuse and recycle. Creativity and upcycling can go hand in hand to invent new arts and crafts projects. As a result these projects can decorate your home or be given as gifts to friends and family. Have you built something interesting with your Extra Lumber? We want to see your photos!