Thrifty Treasure Trove

I was at a local hardware store the other day, once again rummaging through the scrap pile of lumber. Actually, I’m there quite a lot and might as well be referred to as a “regular.” As soon as the gentlemen there see me, they’re always curious as to what I’m up to and what I’m making. When it comes right down to it, I’m always up to the same thing – saving money. And my efforts aren’t all selfish or monetary-minded, either. Opting to select and purchase from scraps is far more environmentally friendly than cutting a larger piece to fit my individual needs or buying an already made or pre-fabricated item instead.

Scrap lumber

Instead of digging down deep in my pockets for more money, I find myself digging deep for more creative ideas on how to avoid having to do the prior. This past visit found me looking for scrap lumber in order to build a cat tree and scratching post for our family’s newest member, Phoebe Firecracker, a beautiful black and white kitten. Was I successful? You bet! I made a 5’ tall cat tree complete with carpeting and sisal rope all for the tune of about $30. A far cry from the cost I would have paid at any pet store.

The idea – and the savings – don’t stop there either. Previous trips to the same scrap pile have enabled me to make balance beams for my children, free-standing easels and even pegboard sewing boards, all of which cost me mere pennies on the dollar compared to what I would have paid visiting a retail store. I’ve made my own shelves courtesy of what was already available in scrap. Heck, in desperation this past summer I even let my two boys raid the scrap bin at our local hardware store just to find materials to build stuff. And it wasn’t about what they were building, either. At about 10 cents a piece (sometimes even less), I didn’t care what they made. Those scraps of wood provided them with hours of creative entertainment and me with some much desired quiet time. Happy boys and a happy mom made those cheap pieces of scrap lumber absolutely priceless. Point being, the next time you find yourself in need of something around the house – whether it be a fix-it project or a an entirely new item – if it’s related to lumber or wood in any way, consider checking out the scrap bin first. With an adventurous spirit and a pair of willing hands, you can likely fill a multitude of needs by spending far less courtesy of said scrap bin. Even if the contents doesn’t quite work, you can often pay a nominal fee to have pieces cut to fit your specific needs saving you more than just a little money over purchasing a larger piece and having it cut down to size.

So, the next time you’re in your local hardware store, take a minute to look for and glance through the scrap pile. It’s often an underutilized treasure trove of resources for any thrift-minded shopper willing to embrace a little D-I-Y to spend L-E-S-S.

Photo credit: patterbt

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

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