Some people window shop walking down the street or in the mall, some even while surfing online.

My habit, is to always be on the lookout for new sources of hardwood for woodworking and making furniture.  Sometimes wood will present itself as a fallen tree on the side or as a tree that needs to be taken down in a neighborhood I drive through, but only once has it been in a large commercial dumpster on the side of the road.

I happened to pass by what I would come to find was a stone importing company, and in a large dumpster out near the street I saw, spilling out of the wedged-open top of this bin were what had to be hundreds and hundreds of dark red timber sticks of rough lumber. It took me about a half-block to mentally process this information and I turned around went back to introduce myself.

Inside, I was told that the “garbage company picks the dumpster up on Tuesday.”   Now, this is probably an occasion when being a fireman (in uniform) has its perks, because when I asked if I could pick through the wood in the dumpster, she said it would be okay, as long as…

  1. I didn’t hurt myself, and
  2. I didn’t do it while they were open for business.

Early in the dark hours of the next morning I set out with a little chain saw (these boards were joined together with a zillion rusty nails bolts at their ends, so I just cut the ends off with a chain saw) and I ‘harvested’ what turned out to be Lyptus hard wood, each about 3″ x 3″ in cross-section, and 6 to 7 feet long. There was  enough to fill up the backs of 2 pick-up trucks several times.  We left that dumpster nearly empty of everything except for little pieces of wood with rusty nails.  …and all before 9 AM!

After removing the hidden metal, squaring and surfacing, I made a few things with this found wood. The very last project from the lyptus stash was something for myself, a 9 foot long dining table.

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A postscript…

…a few days after bringing home and stacking all the lyptus I got from this find, I turned about a dozen pens and pencils from a piece of the wood that didn’t make the migration to the stacked piles.   I wanted to be a nice guy and say ‘thanks’ to the people at the stone importing company, so I took three pen/pencil sets over to them.

There was some disbelief that the pens I gave them came out of their trash can, but I explained the story behind the wood stamped “BRASIL” that had been “the cheap pallet crates” they threw away, but then the next day when I passed them on the street, they had moved the big dumpster back behind a locked gate and wouldn’t entertain the idea of letting me get back to it for another treasure hunt.

…Oh well.