Simple Free Firewood Projects

Simple DIY projects that can be done using free wood.

I had to cut down a big elm tree in my yard last year because of Dutch elm disease. I don’t have room to cut and stack it, so the majority of it went to the transfer station. But I just couldn’t bring myself to part with all of it. The grain is lovely, and the tracks left by the bark beetles is really visually interesting. I still have the tree’s trunk sitting in the garage waiting to get cut into slabs. I love making simple projects with free wood. It just takes all the pressure off. The same goes for scraps and offcuts in my woodshop that would otherwise end up in the fireplace. Instead of having a set plan, the sizes and shapes of pieces of scrap or firewood seem to inform you of what they’d like to be used for. These are some of my most recent projects.

elm branch coasters

These elm branch coasters were pretty quick to make – just start slicing! I finished them with an oil/wax mixture to bring out the color and provide a little bit of protection. You don’t need to take down a whole tree to make these; a problem branch will work just fine.

This chunk of walnut was too captivating to burn, so I turned it into a live-edge shelf. You can also use branches as shelf supports.

I made this walnut sliding lid box from scraps from a trestle table. The client didn’t want any sapwood (the lighter colored wood) in their table. More for me! If you have a bandsaw, making little boxes like these is easy.

This chunky elm deck stool/ottoman lives on my patio. I know it’ll eventually fall apart being exposed to the elements, but it was quick to make and we’re getting a bunch of use out of it before it heads to the burn pile.

This piece of elm really caught my eye – check out the crazy patterns in the wood from bark beetles! Cut it to penholder height, drill some holes in the top, and get back to writing.

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Brad Holden
Brad Holden, an associate editor at The Family Handyman, has been building cabinets and furniture for 30 years. In that time, he has absorbed so many slivers and ingested so much sawdust that he's practically made of wood.