Put the scraps of timber left over from a major DIY project to good use, instead of dumping them in a hopper. Depending on the size of the offcuts you have, you can make anything from a small footstool or side table to planter boxes for displaying flowers. Sometimes you only need to buy one or two longer pieces of similar timber, and use the scraps to build a full-size sunlounger or similar piece.
Building furniture from pieces of timber already prepared for outdoor use has the added advantage of usually not requiring extra treatment or finishing, except possibly for sealing cut ends with a suitable timber preservative. And primed treated pine can be painted straight away without needing an undercoat.
Combining different materials will often give you the best results. For example, you can make a gorgeous sunlouger by building a frame with a curved profile from marine ply or framing timber, then clad it with short pieces of decking or screening.
Decking is probably the most common source of offcuts after a major DIY project. It’s usually sold in 5.4m lengths and cut to length on-site. Especially considering it’s wise to buy a little more than you need to allow a margin for error, this means you tend to be left with a considerable quantity of surplus pieces that don’t end up on your deck, some of which can be more than a metre long.
Screening is another versatile material sold in bulk lengths or rolls. As with decking, hardwood screening slats usually feature a pencil-round profile, meaning they’re sold with the sharp corners already rounded over. Offcuts of rolled bamboo screening are also great for making curvy chair backs and stool seats!
Framing timbers for a major project such as a deck or pergola are available in a range of lengths, typically at increments of 300mm. However, this also tends to be purchased in bulk and cut to length as needed, for example to ensure the best-looking side is visible in the completed structure.
Plywood may not be the most popular item used for outdoor DIY projects, but it’s typically sold in 2400 x 1200mm sheets, potentially leaving plenty of surplus material. Structural plywood, especially if it is rated for marine applications, can be transformed into beautiful and durable outdoor items.
Form ply completes the line-up of usual suspects. Also described as film-faced plywood, this is normally 17mm thick and used for making formwork when pouring a concrete slab or driveway. It’s a versatile type of plywood treated to withstand the moisture associated with pouring concrete. Form ply has a super-smooth layer of dark-coloured resin film on its outer faces, which allows it to separate cleanly once the concrete has cured.