7 Ways to Upcycle Your Sawdust
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.
I have a small saw mill that I mill a lot of lumber from. Needless to say it generates a ton of saw dust. I put that saw dust to good use as bedding in my horse stalls. (And NO – there isn’t black walnut or any kind of walnut dust in it). We live in the Rocky Mtns and there aren’t any walnut trees period.
I save over $1,000 a year on not having to buy wood pellets (which are just compacted sawdust) for the stall bedding.
I have three dust collectors. One has a single bag, one has two and another pulls through a Super Dust Deputy. I end up with a lot of sawdust and shavings to empty a couple times a year. I donate the full bags to a friend, whose dad turns them into his version of presto logs for his wood burner.
Thanks for the great tips! Very useful
I make fire starters, used my sawdust for traction on ice, and I provide my local school bus contractor with sawdust to sop up messes from students who become sick on the bus. Works great.
We have a giant schnauzer who likes to pee on concrete and rather than pull out the hose we have a bin with sawdust in it and we sprinkle that on it and then sweep up a bit later.
When I was turning bowls ( 3-4/day) two winters ago, disposing of all the sawdust was a big problem. I would fill a 50 ga. trash bag every 2 days. My lot is 1/8 acre and there was simply not enough area to accommodate the sawdust. I ended up taking it to the landfill.
Sawdust can also be mixed into leftover latex paint to dry it, allowing for disposal in a landfill.
Be careful if you use sawdust to sop up spills of oil based stains or varnishes. If you close up the container, you may get spontaneous combustion and a fire. Be sure to leave it open until the material is completely dry. I’ve had stain on a rag start to smolder in my hand.
Do not leave it open. It will spontaneously combust with oxygen. Use a metal container with a lid. (There are galvanized metal trash cans in various sizes available at any decent hardware store.) Use the lid to deny the volatile material access to oxygen until thoroughly dry. Then dispose of it as your community requires.
I do a lot of woodturning so I end up with tons of shavings and dust. I wait until I’ve got two or three 50 gal bags and then use it to fill in low spots and ruts in my yard.
It’s also great for mixing with heavy clay soil to help drainage. Just remember, as John says, check to make sure the type of wood won’t harm your soil.
Like your hints and updates. Thank you!
I have a woodburner in my workshop which I burn offcuts and sawdust. The stove has a tube that runs down towards the bottom allowing air ( controlled by a flap) under sawdust.
Bag your sawdust and sell to horse stables.
I compost most of my sawdust and shavings mixed with grass clippings and leaves.
Put about a kids beach bucket of sawdust or wood shavings in the household rubbish bin or bag. It absorbs the juice etc from the vege or meat scraps reduces smells etc.
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.
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.
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
Use the saw dust blended with old news paper to make geo energy logs
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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
When putting a finish on coasters use a penetrating oil finish such as linseed, tung or walnut. It will soak in and crosspolarmize within the wood and will be water resistant. Polyurethane and such are on the surface and do not give good water resistance. Mineral oil can be used also but it will not harden.
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!
I mix sawdust in with my leaves , grass clippings and ash from fireplace with dirt to extend my yard
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
I use it for the poop tray in the rabbit cage.
I soak my sawdust in oil to use for sweeping the floor in my work shop
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.
great ideas on saw dust recycling
there huge amount of saw dust in my area
how can I make good commodity from it
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
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
Stuck , Best traction for winter driving ,ever
Pl sow dust mack items or other where use .video
I use it to clean greasy frying pans.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Very good for this give us ideas
Will english walnut saw dust work or is it just black walnut?
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.
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.
Use it in your composting toilet!
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.
Another use is to clean the engine oil drain pan. It mkes them spotlessly clean
I’m happy to be part of you.
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.
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!
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.
I have mixed sawdust with wood glue to fill worm holes on chair molding in my home. Let it dry 24 hours then sand.
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…
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.
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.
Love your ideas,hints and projects.
I mix epoxy with sawdust for filling large openings and as strong filler to support corner joints in boats and boxes.
My exterminator cautioned me on using sawdust for flowerbed mulch due to termites.
Sawdust can also be mixed into leftover latex paint to dry it, allowing for disposal in a landfill.
How about mixing sawdust with old crankcase oil to make sweeping compound? But then where do you dispose of the used sweeping compound?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Won’t that make the floor even more slippery than the sawdust alone?
Properly mixed it shouldn’t. It will be very similar to the floor sweep I used to use when I worked in an auto parts store.
I mix mine with Bermuda grass clippings and compost each year.
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.
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.
I think he was speaking of dust and shavings in general, not just dust.
not sure what you want
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
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.
You’d probably get someone suing for slipping in today’s society
It is commonly used on CW dance floors and in some country style steak houses.
Peanut shells are common atalot for CW dancehalls!
Great for chickens and ice,mulching around trees.
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.