Wood scraps- trash, or kindling?

Woodworkers all over the world use various types of hard and softwoods, and we recently got an excellent question about some small woodworking scraps…


Dear Don't Move Firewood,


I am a hobbiest furniture builder in central PA, and have a large pile of kiln-dried oak and cherry cutoffs and scrap that I'd like to get rid of. These are clean, dry, bark free pieces ranging from shaving size to a few inches/side, and they have been stored indoors since coming out of the hardwood supplier's kiln.


One option that I've used in the past is to put them out with the trash (my local hauler takes them away for no additional charge).  I presume they just end up in the landfill, destined to sit there for a very long time, since the low moisture content will inhibit decay.  They will also allow me to compost the waste, for a significant fee.


Alternatively, I've considered using them as kindling during my next camping trip, but apparently that may be running afoul of firewood transportation laws.  It seems a shame to waste the energy stored in this wood by throwing it away, but I have no viable means of burning it on-site.  What's your take on the situation?




Chad in Pennsylvania


Dear Chad,


Your question perplexed me at first, because you are correct to think that kiln dried, bark free, and stored indoors wood poses no risk if you use it as kindling on a camping trip- but you are also correct that it'd be a shame to run afoul of laws that might be too broad for your exact situation. So I asked a colleague in Pennsylvania to chime in- I wanted the real answer. Here's what Donald Eggen, Forest Health Manager for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, has to say;


There are no regulations regarding the movement of this type of wood within Pennsylvania.  He can therefore use the material for firewood within the borders of Pennsylvania.  However, if he wished to transport the wood across a state line to use as firewood in another state, he would have to check with that state's State Plant Regulatory Official to determine if he could transport the material into that state. 


I can guess that most people aren't likely to call a State Plant Regulatory Official just to move some kindling across state lines. But the reality is that you could be hit with a fine if you are violating any laws, or you could have it confiscated (where they'd throw it away, which is a waste as you said). Pennsylvania is a pretty darn big state, so instead, I'd just suggest using all that wood on in-state trips!


And one last thing- the movement of raw wood by hobby woodworkers has been linked in the past to outbreaks of forest pests. I'd like to just applaud you for buying kiln dried stock and storing it indoors. Those two steps minimize the risk of accidental pest movement on wood stock, and I'm glad that's how you operate.


Thanks for asking!