7 Ways to Upcycle Your Sawdust

Got lots of sawdust sitting around your shop? Of course you do, you’re a woodworker! Whether you burn it, compost it, or trash it, we’ve got some simple woodworking ideas on how to upcycle some of those shavings.

Some sawdust can be used as a supplement for your garden. However, you should use it in moderation and mix it with manure or nitrogen so it doesn’t suffocate the plants. Do your research to see if what you are growing can benefit from sawdust. For example, it is especially helpful in growing mushrooms! But do be careful with your sawdust selection; sawdust from some woods (like black walnut) will kill plants.

As mentioned above, it is important to do your research before utilizing sawdust in your garden. Some wood may work, some wood may kill. Walnut is toxic to most plants, so use it to get rid of pesky plants. Sprinkle it wherever you want to stomp out some weeds.

If you enjoy a good campfire in the great outdoors or a blazing fire in your hearth, then you might want to consider making your own fire starters. All you need is some sawdust (soft woods like pine or cedar work best), some old cardboard egg cartons, and melted wax which you can find at most craft stores in the candle making department. Check out this video to see how to put them together.

If you live in an area that gets a lot of winter weather, you might want to consider sprinkling sawdust on all that inevitable ice. Sawdust will help your tires and boots grip the ice to provide traction and prevent slipping.

Repairing a small crack or hole? Combine some sawdust with your favorite wood glue (here are some suggestions) and use it like wood filler. This is best for small touch ups, and not big projects where commercial fillers may be more effective.

Small rodents (guinea pigs, ferrets, rats, mice, etc.) and birds all typically use mulch to line their cages. If you’ve got one of these animals at home, don’t spend your money on pet store mulch – use your own sawdust! It’s easy to clean, and the animals enjoy rooting around in it. However, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Some sawdust can be toxic to animals, so make sure your pets and wood shavings are compatible.

Sawdust is helpful in cleaning up large spills of any kind. It’ll soak up your spill, making it easier to clean up and dispose of. This is a great tip for anyone who also works on cars and may get automotive liquid spills in their garage. Or, you can just use it when you’re clumsy with your stains and spirits in the shop! But always make sure you check locally on how to deal with sawdust that has been used to soak up potentially toxic substances (oil/radiator fluid etc.).

Let us know if you already use some of these suggestions to upcycle your sawdust, or are trying them for the first time.

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60 Responses to “7 Ways to Upcycle Your Sawdust”

    • John Giem
      John Giem

      Be Carefull using wood shavings and saw dust for bedding for animals. The chemicals in black walnut that make it a good weed killer can attack the feet of the animals. There are stories of people using black walnut shavings in horse lots. The horse’s hooves were attacked by the chemicals with very bad results. I don’t know if the horses survived or not.

  1. Butch

    You didn’t mention sprinkling some on a dance floor. The sawdust really improves the dancers ability to do spins and slides. Talcum Powder or baking soda can also be used.

  2. Ron west
    Ron west

    Whatever species of wood I use, I save that particular sawdust, more accurately stated is sanding dust. I mix the dust with whatever stain I use. This works for me when filing in cracks, nail holes etc. of course I use glue with it

  3. chuck albright
    chuck albright

    The tip on firestarters is not very applicable to sawdust, unless mixed with shavings. The sawdust is so fine and dry that the wax tends to run off the sides of the carton.
    On another note, sawdust mixed in with the garden soil is so low in nitrogen, that the decomposing organisms will not leave any for the plants. Left on top of the soil (and particularly mixed with grass clippings), it will do a decent job of keeping light from weed seedlings and will eventually enrich the soil.

  4. Nate Frost
    Nate Frost

    I live in Maine, where I work in a cabinet shop, and I just used 5 large (55 gallon) dust collector bags of sawdust to bank my old house for winter. I used 10′ x 100′ roll of clear poly to create a triangular tube that lays against the house, seals and insulates the foundation, and attaches to the siding with laths and screws. Next spring, some of the sawdust will go to the chicken house and fruit gardens (as mulch), and the plastic will help control weeds in the gardens.

  5. Chuck cramer
    Chuck cramer

    Mix it with parafin oil (same as used in oil lamps). Then spread it on your shop floor move it with a broom to pick up very fine dust.

  6. Chuck Cramer
    Chuck Cramer

    Use it to pick up fine dust in your shop floor by mixing the saw dust with paraffin oil then sweeping it across the floor.

  7. Larry Bruton
    Larry Bruton

    I pack sawdust into empty toilet roll cylinders and paper towel cylinders then tape or glue over both ends. I give them to friends, neighbors, and relatives as fire starters for the cook-house, campsite, or wherever. Living on an island in the central western Pacific where most locals cook outside in a cook-house, the little fire starters are extremely popular and appreciated.

  8. Will Smith
    Will Smith

    How about mixing sawdust with old crankcase oil to make sweeping compound? But then where do you dispose of the used sweeping compound?

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Will. I have never tried this and so I cannot comment on the effectiveness. Having said that, I’m not crazy about the idea of putting oil on my shop floor, and creating a volume of oil soaked sawdust that creates a disposal quandary.

    • John Giem
      John Giem

      If you mix oil with your sawdust, be very careful with the storage and disposal. It is the same as with oily rags. They can have spontaneous combustion setting things on fire. Closed metal containers are recommended.

  9. John

    I mix epoxy with sawdust for filling large openings and as strong filler to support corner joints in boats and boxes.

  10. Bob Wolinski
    Bob Wolinski

    I have used the sawdust crack filler for years and it works great. For all you Titebond users, It works best with the original formula. It’s OK with Titebond II but not so good with Titebond III Don’t know why, didn’t care really so I just use the original. It works well with CA glue for really small cracks and well with Gorilla glue as long as you plan to sand it well.

  11. Al Berndt
    Al Berndt

    Fill a three pound coffee can about two-thirds full of sawdust, add about one-half pint of water, and shake well.(A paint shaker works well for this) You will have a non-toxic environmentally safe and effective floor sweeping compound. Works good and costs nothing.

  12. EZgoing

    Not only do I use sawdust to clean up spills in the garage, I make some sweeping compound by taking some used oil and adding it to the sawdust and keep it in a box that is lined with a plastic trash bag. It doesn’t take much oil to slightly dampen the dust, but it works great on the unsealed concrete floors as a sweeping compound to help cut down on concrete dust and do a better job of cleaning up the floors a bit easier…

  13. David Bryant
    David Bryant

    I have mixed sawdust with wood glue to fill worm holes on chair molding in my home. Let it dry 24 hours then sand.

  14. John Decker
    John Decker

    I’m in the process of making oak molding for my home. The molder makes mountains of chips- 7 30gal. garbage cans full. Rather than throw it out, I checked around the neighborhood and found a house with a chicken coop. I knocked and was surprised to hear Spanish being spoken. They’re immigrants from Colombia working on citizenship, and were very happy to get free bedding for the chickens. So, before you toss it, look around for someone keeping livestock. They’ll be happy to take it.

  15. Tim Hackler
    Tim Hackler

    I have a friend who fires pottery in the raku method by taking the piece from the kiln and setting it on combustible material to create amazing designs. She is more than happy to take my sawdust and planer chips, and I am more than happy to give it away!

  16. Charlie

    In regards to upcycling sawdust. All I do is collect the paper roll tubes and use the used paper towels from the shop. Fill the tubes with shavings block the ends with the paper towels and you have a little log. No extra expense involved.

  17. Barney Beard
    Barney Beard

    After dumping my bucket of kitchen scraps into the outside compost bin, I add a layer of cedar saw dust to the bottom. I also add wood stove ash to the compost bin.

  18. Rod Peterson
    Rod Peterson

    Add to resin. in small amounts it makes cool depth to counter top. Add to wax when making candles. make your sawdust into a fine powder when adding. the smell of cedar and fir are my favorites.

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Robert. English walnut contains the same weed prevention chemical as black walnut, called juglone, but it has it in lower concentrations. So it has the potential to work, but you might not have the same level of effectiveness as with black walnut. Worth a try.

  19. George Murray
    George Murray

    I save and sell my cedar dust and shavings, especially off the lathe. I use it around the foundation of the house and the bugs don’t like it. 1 lb. goes a long way. All my super fine sanding dust is used for fillers.

  20. Ronald Stewart
    Ronald Stewart

    I take to the farm put it in pile and the local snakes spend the winter in holes they’ve created . the guy next door uses it on his rasberries . also it can be used once rotted to make spolted wood.

  21. Bobg

    I sprinkle it on my oatmeal its a great fiber addtive.

    You could use it in plaster of pairs
    Or mix it into your ceiling paint for a texture look.

    Then you can mix it with melted water bottles and add a color, it makes great decking.

  22. Kevin

    When Dumping two full bags of extractor chips and dust into my compost bin, I make a mound with a center hole (think volcano). When dumping fruit/veg scraps in the center I push a bit of the sawdust pile on top. The deer don’t like digging sawdust, unlike yard clippings, to get the vegetables, more fruit/veg make it to my table, and fewer deer struck by cars in front of the house.

  23. john ayers
    john ayers

    all of my sawdust i ka

    all of my sawdust i use for fill but all the shavings from the planer and jointer i take over to the spca and they use it for the kennels also if i am using any pressure treated wood that goes to the recycle center an the use it for oil spills

  24. jim

    add sawdust to old paint it will solidify the paint and the paint can be disposed of as it is no longer considered a bio hazard

  25. alozie bright
    alozie bright

    great ideas on saw dust recycling
    there huge amount of saw dust in my area
    how can I make good commodity from it

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Thanks for the feedback. This is what we’ve come up with. Let us know if you have other ideas.
      Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America

  26. julian trevino
    julian trevino

    I soak my sawdust in oil to use for sweeping the floor in my work shop

    • Robert Caswell
      Robert Caswell

      No need to use oil. Just mix in some water as mentioned in a couple of other posts. No problems with disposal or oil residue on your floor.

  27. Myrtle Botha
    Myrtle Botha

    I’m not good at wood work but I have so much wood I don’t know what to do with it and I don’t have many machines either

  28. ron robillard
    ron robillard

    I mix sawdust in with my leaves , grass clippings and ash from fireplace with dirt to extend my yard

  29. Ron Yamka
    Ron Yamka

    I bag my sawdust and planer shavings in medium sized, brown paper lunch bags, then burn them in the wood burner along side good quality firewood. I figure there’s plenty of BTU’s available, and they burn very clean with minimal ash. I usually put only two bags in the stove at one time so that they do not smother the fire. Seems to be a better use of sawdust and shavings instead of putting them out for the trash. collection. Turning wood waste into HEAT!

  30. bruce44

    I have made these coasters and have had some problems with the finish I used. I used a polyurethane finish and it has peeled and dis-colored. I have a few scraps left so I”m going to get some spray spar varnish and try it. Thanks

  31. Harvey N Wallach
    Harvey N Wallach

    Been a subscriber for years, but have NOT received any videos, also for years???

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hello Harvey, I did find a active Premium membership for you. Please make sure that you are login at the website. If you need assistance contact us at 1-855-253-0822.

  32. Jere

    If you are going to make fire starter with wax –Toilet bowl wax rings are cheaper and work just as well as buying craft sold wax

  33. joe grech
    joe grech

    I guess nobody mentioned using as an efficient heater even as a pottery kiln. Fill a metal drum as big as the amount of sawdust available. In the middle put a 2 inch pipe and fill with the sawdust packing it very tight around the pipe. Remove the pipe and with a lighted rag put it on top. Fire will slowly goes down releasing a lot of heat. To use it as a kiln no pipe is needed but put the clay object somewhere near the bottom. Light as before and let it do its job as in previous trick.
    PS I didn’t try these as i don’t have that amount of sawdust. From what I read long time ago.

  34. Debra Jacobs
    Debra Jacobs

    IF you are using wood slabs, jointing and planning for use, that haven’t been treated with anything, many hardwoods, fruit woods and nut woods can be used in your smoker. I keep separate bags for each wood type and mix them as needed. Especially good for cold smoking things like sausages and bacon.