Scrap Wood Treasure: Salvage Useful ‘Sticker’ Lumber from Big Box Stores

Reader Contribution by Kyle Chandler-Isacksen and Be The Change Project
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Every time I go to Home Depot, which is more than I’d like to admit, I cruise through the lumber area and look for the leftover “stickers” from the new bundles of lumber. The stickers (or dunnage) are strapped under the big wrapped bundles of lumber that are delivered to Home Depot and probably every other big box hardware store. They keep the wood off the ground (or off the bottom of a truck) to allow the forks of a forklift to slide under and pick up the bundle.

Dimensions. The stickers are about 4 feet long, are 2-by-3-inches wide, and are made of pine, fir, or spruce like an ordinary 2-by-4. One of the most beautiful and useful things about them — and this is a big deal when one salvages a lot of wood — is that they are of uniform widths.

Location. Look for the stickers under the stacks of all the dimensional lumber, fence slats, plywood, posts, etc.  I’ll often find them conveniently stacked in a shopping cart or trash can after they’ve been collected by an employee and before they’re brought out to the dumpster behind the store. It’s a real shame to think of so much good wood going to waste. In my experience, the employees and cashiers have always been happy to have me take them away.

Uses. I use them either as firewood (each chopped into three pieces and easily stackable) or for myriad small projects around the homestead. In the past, I’ve used them to help frame my son’s attic bedroom walls, to frame up a chicken coop, as backers for drywall in a house I built, for farmers market signs, a cucumber trellis, and so on.

They’re a real treasure that takes so little extra effort to collect and divert from the landfill.

Kyle Chandler-Isacksenis a tinkerer, natural builder, and community organizer in Reno, Nevada. He and his family run theBe the Change Project, a fossil fuel-, car-, and electricity-free urban homestead and learning space dedicated to service and simplicity and inspired by the principles of Gandhian Integral Nonviolence. They were honored as one of MOTHER’s Homesteaders of the Year in 2013. Read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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