7 Ways to Upcycle Your Sawdust

man covered in 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.

plant supplements text

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.

kill weeds text

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.

DIY fire starters text

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.

snow and ice tradition

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.

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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.

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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.

sop up spills text

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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68 Responses to “7 Ways to Upcycle Your Sawdust”

  1. Charlie

    Had an old log splitter I was going to scrap, then I saw MY pile of sawdust & woodchips. After a bit of welding to make a ‘compactor box’ I converted the splitter ram into a squasher and now, with a bit of bonding agent (I’ve tried wax, glue, water, Tide, you name it) my little blocks of compressed wood burn like an inferno and get the firebox going. We heat with wood ALL WINTER. Lot of forethought, but now the after effects are worth it.

  2. Marty Nell

    Great Ideas! My garage shop thanks you.

  3. Gail Penrod

    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.

  4. Kelly Craig

    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.

  5. claudehall


  6. David L Cleary

    Thanks for the great tips! Very useful

  7. Jim Van Kirk

    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.

  8. Barbara

    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.

  9. dick guggenheim

    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.

  10. Bob Weaver

    Sawdust can also be mixed into leftover latex paint to dry it, allowing for disposal in a landfill.