28 Ways to Recycle and Reuse Sawdust and Woodchips

Being a thrifty fella, this thread over at Woodnet caught my attention: Where do you get rid of chips/sawdust? I used this thread as a starting point and then researched forums and other info sites to compile this post. THEN I tried to arrange all the ideas into a useful framework… Let me know how I did ;) All citation links are in the resource section at the end.

I pulled out a few highlights to whet your appetite before you dig down into the 28 uses:

Wackiest idea: Sawdust Toilet
Best Fuel-Making Description: The Fire Brick
For Industrial-Level Sawdust Reuse: Uses for Sawdust, Shavings, And Waste Chips (pdf)

Here are the categories:
>>>Gardening with Woodchips and Sawdust
>>>Burning Sawdust and Woodchips for Fuel, Etc…
>>>Sawdust Uses in the House/Body/Cooking
>>>Farm Animal Woodchip and Sawdust Ideas
>>>Sawdust Uses in the Shop
>>>Sawdust Uses in Projects
>>>Sell Your Woodchips and Sawdust
>>>Sawdust Tom Foolery – Jokes, Etc

>>>Gardening with Woodchips and Sawdust
Gardening ideas ranked #1, though sawdust apparently takes about a year or so to become really useful as a fertilizer… Here are several gardening ideas followed by some tips and warnings for gardening with sawdust.

1) Stwood:
Blow all of mine into a trailer, then dump in the compost pile in the garden. Let it rot for a year or so, then spread and till it in.

2) Kudzu:
Mulch around the landscaping. Mulch the fence rows. Mulch the garden….. did I mention mulch?

Peter O:
3) I just spoke with a guy who grows mushrooms. He was very excited about my sawdust pile, especially the Alder. He said the shavings from the planer and jointer are better than the dust from the saws, but apparently mushrooms love the stuff! Who knew?

4) isawfrizzy:
I take mine to the county compost

Landscaping:
5) If you have nature trails in your woods or know of those who do, use planer shavings, sawdust, etc. for reduced soil erosion and a clear comfortable path in which to walk.

Tips for Gardening with Sawdust:
john rafter:
If you use a lot of sawdust in your vegetable garden it might turn your soil acidic. Plants need a somewhat neutral PH to be able to pick up nutrients, so add some lime. Do a soil test to determine how much lime.

WoodWeb:
Walnut sawdust contains an herbicide and will kill tomatoes and other plants.

When using sawdust in gardens always add extra nitrogen, because the decay bacteria will use all available nitrogen and leave the plants with the “yellows.” Eventually the nitrogen is freed, but that may take a year or two.

The larger the pieces of wood, the less nitrogen starvation is a problem.

>>>Burning Sawdust and Woodchips for Fuel, Etc…
Burning sawdust for heat in the winter, or preparing it for other burning functions was popular too. There were several great ideas and lots of great resources.

6) We burn most of ours in the boiler to make the steam to dry wood.

7) ChaoticSeven:
I’ve just been putting it in a pile and lighting it up.

8) Another use for hardwood shavings and sawdust is in ceramic raku firings. It won’t use up great quantities of waste sawdust, but maybe you could get a free pot or two out of the deal, and it is fun to watch.

9) How to build and use a sawdust stove

10) the Fire Brick
I start with a large tub (about 2′ * 15″ * 15″) 3/4 full with sawdust. To this I add 15 – 20 litres (3-4 gallons) of the biodiesel byproduct and mix a bit. I leave this for a day or 2 and then mix again. I repeat this until the sawdust is evenly mixed. If it is too moist, I add more sawdust and mix this sawdust in the top layer. When I have sawdust which can be squeezed in my hand, and it retains its shape, but crumbles when pushed from the side or top, it is ready to be packed.

11) Firestarters from Old Candle Wax and Sawdust

More sawdust-as-fuel resources:
Sawdust-Fueled Boilers
Sawdust as fuel
sawdust brickette
burning saw dust

>>>Sawdust Uses in the House/Body/Cooking
Not surprisingly there are many uses for sawdust around the house. Though I’m not sure we’ll be switching to a sawdust toilet any time soon…

12) How to make and use a sawdust toilet

13) Clean a floor. Moisten a pile of sawdust with water and use a push broom to sweep it around the concrete floor of your garage, basement, or shop. The wet sawdust will capture and absorb fine dust and grime.

Peter Storey:
14) What i do with my left over sawdust is to usally mix it with some mud and spread it over my face. It is great for making your skin fell soft. I recomend it to anyone who has dry and sensitive skin.

Diamondee:
15) for areas that get snow..use untreated wood shavings for traction on sidewalks etc. better for the plants than using salt products.

cjgeo:
16) use sawdust to stuff decorative pincushions for gifts at holiday time. Pins and needles won’t rust.

Jody:
17) I use some of my hardwood shavings in my side fire box meat smoker for added flavor.

>>>Farm Animal Woodchip and Sawdust Ideas
Certain species of woodchips and sawdust make great bedding for cows, horses, chickens, pigs and other farm animals. Beware Black Walnut though… it’s highly toxic to animals.

floor guy:
18) i give them to a farmer friend of mine he uses them for his cows

Woodchips and Sawdust For Pets:
19) I also bag some (red cedar) up in burlap bags and sell them for $10 as dog bedding.

Animal Care Woodchip Warnings
20) If using or selling shavings for livestock bedding, keep black walnut shavings separate. Black walnut is extremely toxic to equines when ingested, even in minute quantities.

>>>Sawdust Uses in the Wood Shop
Some people find uses for sawdust in its natural environment – the shop.

Todd A. Clippinger:
21) I occasionally go through my old cans of paint, finish, and stain to throw away. By law in Montana you can’t throw those as a liquid in the landfill. But you can if they are dry. I pour the liquids into a bucket of saw dust until it is absorbed nicely and let it dry. Then I dispose of it.

Jody:
22) And lastly if my dog accidentally pees on my shop floor, I just sprinkle some sawdust over it, let it dry, sweep it up, and toss it out with the garbage.

23) I use mine to protect the concrete floor of my shop. I have found that a 50mm thick layer prevents scratching of the delicate concrete surface and deadens the noise of falling tools.

>>>Sawdust Uses in Projects
Here are a couple ideas for using your sawdust in projects. You might not get rid of much this way though…
Jody:
24) The wood flour from my sanders I put in small ziplock sandwich bags, label them as to wood type and save for project repairs or repairs to wood structures around the house.

This Old House:
25) Lighten up cement. Sawdust mixed into mortar has long been used when erecting cordwood walls to aid in bonding the logs together. Do the same when casting lightweight vessels and moisture-loving planters.

>>>Sell Your Woodchips and Sawdust
26) I cut a lot of Eastern redcedar and I bag the sawdust up and sell it. I get $3 a plastic garbage bag, using kitchen bags (I believe they are 15 gallon).

>>>Give it Away on Craigslist:
27) Aram:
Craiglist. Thanks to CL, I have a regular picker-upper now. I let her know, leave them out, and she hauls them away.

>>>Sawdust Tom Foolery – Jokes, Etc:
jpw1995:
28) A true Lumberjock uses sawdust to season his food. Who needs salt and pepper? Just use maple and walnut!

More Sawdust and Woodchip Reuse Resources:
Uses for Sawdust, Shavings, And Waste Chips (at more of an industrial level…) This 48 page document breaks uses down into uses based on special physical qualities, fuel uses, fiber and wood-base board uses and chemical uses.
Sawdust Uses (WoodWeb)
What do you do with the wood chips and sawdust?
Uses for Sawdust and Wood Chips (ThriftyFun)
What to do with sawdust (WoodWorkForums)
How many uses are there?? (infopop)
10 Uses for Sawdust (This Old House)
Eleven Good (And One Not So Good) Uses For Sawdust
Where do you get rid of chips/sawdust?

Other Resources:
11 Ideas for Wood Cut Offs
11 Cheap, Recycled or Free Items Useful in the Wood Shop
Cheap, DIY Clamp Alternatives

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5 Responses to 28 Ways to Recycle and Reuse Sawdust and Woodchips

  1. This is a great post. Over the years in my cabinet shop I have had so much saw dust just go to waste. Finding new ways to make use of it I would recommend to all who are in this business. I know have mine picked up but a local friend who has it used for earth friendly projects.

  2. Chainsaw says:

    Great tips!

    Every spring our county hires tree trimmers to trim back tree branches around the power and telephone lines.

    I beg these men every chance I see them to dump their wood chips at my house. I use the shavings to keep the weeds down on my garden paths first I lay down 5-6 layers of old newspaper and then top with the wood chips. My pathways stay weed free all summer!

  3. Rocky says:

    We are involved in community development in the Western Cape, South Africa. We have access to tons of sawdust from a local sawmill in the area.
    Would like to start up a sustainable project with the local community, which has a 40% unemployment rate.
    If you have any idea, please contact us on volunteers@wwisa.co.za
    We may need funding to support any big initiatives

  4. I prefer to use mine for kindling when I go out camping that way im not searching for small pieces of wood to start a fire!

  5. VolkgartenbySquirrel says:

    Sorry, no website yet.

    Thank you very much for this website, which includes TONS of usefuls. I would like to know how to make bales from waste wood,your site has provided several leads and resources. Thank you very much!

    V\S

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