Sanding, planing, drilling, cutting, and sawing will result in heaps of sawdust or wood shavings. While it can be troublesome to collect and clean them up, it is an often-overlooked resource that can be useful for many tasks!
With proper use and management, this free resource can be valuable. So, our woodworking team will share the uses for sawdust as well as a few important tips.
What Type of Sawdust Can I Use?
Not all sawdust is safe and can be used in your home or garden. Some sawdust is, in fact, toxic. Some species that contain harmful substances include Taxus spp, also known as yew.
In addition, those from particle boards and wood pellets are also considered hazardous.
Also, do away from contaminated sawdust. Make sure to use sawdust that is fresh or dry wood shavings from untreated wood.
Species of wood known to be safe for sawdust use are oak, maple, ash, cherry, cedar, and fir, among other common fruit trees.
16 Creative Ways to Utilize Sawdust
You will be surprised by the various purposes of sawdust. You can use the fine particles to grow mushrooms, grow potatoes, and even feed plants. To know how to properly utilize them for these purposes, read on below:
#1: Prevent Slipping on the Ground and Surfaces
Using sawdust is an effective way of adding traction to paths. It is a good and environmentally friendly alternative to salt or chemical ice that can be harmful and seep into soils during the warm months.
Sawdust and wood chips can be used in large quantities to make your compost pile. The sawdust allows spaces in the compost pile, which allows oxygen to allow the compost to work. Furthermore, it breaks down more easily than other brown material sources.
Make sure to alternate sawdust layers with green compost. It is considered a “brown” compost material and a good source of carbon and food for microorganisms found in green and natural materials such as grass clippings.
Do away from black walnut sawdust when adding sawdust to your compost pile if you want a natural weed killer.
You can use and add sawdust as mulch. Add sawdust or wood chips at the base of your garden plants three to four inches deep. Do not use fresh sawdust from black walnut wood.
Sawdust mulch can help retain soil moisture, keep the surrounding soil cooler, and prevent the growth of weeds. To prevent nitrogen loss, add some fertilizer alongside the sawdust mixed mulch.
Adding mulch to your garden can reduce soil splash from the rain. Furthermore, it can reduce the growth of soil-borne plant diseases and increase the growth of beneficial fungi like mycorrhizae.
Nitrogen deficiency may occur since nitrogen is used up by microorganisms during the decomposition process. Thus it is best to add nitrogen to the mix regularly. This will ensure that nitrogen is present in the soil.
#4: Absorb Spills
Keep a bucket of fine sawdust handy for accidents like spills. Sawdust is known to be highly absorbent and colloquially known as a wooden sponge. Any spill on your workshop can be solved with some sawdust.
Spread sawdust to efficiently soak up liquid spills such as oil spills. It can also absorb grease, paint, and gasoline.
To do this, once you spread the sawdust to the oil spill, wait for a few more minutes to allow it to absorb the liquid. You can easily sweep it away once the sawdust has absorbed most of the spill. Repeat the process until necessary.
#5: Start a Fire
One of the most brilliant uses for sawdust is for initiating fire. Sawdust can be easily made into a fire starter and all you need are sawdust and old candle wax.
Melt candle wax, paraffin wax, or old food-grade cooking oils in a nonstick pot over low heat and add enough sawdust to thicken the mix.
Pour the resulting sawdust and candle wax solution into an improvised mold such as an empty paper egg carton. You can also opt to use silicone muffin pans to dry. Once cooled down it can be cut into smaller parts.
Allow the mix to cool thoroughly and store it properly. When ready to use the sawdust mixed wax as a fire starter, you can separate the “briquettes” and light it up, and see it burn.
#6: Wood and Hole Filler
Post woodworking, gather all the sawdust you have, and you can use it as a wood filler. It can fill holes, cracks, gouges, and other defects in your wood. This will help create a professional finish for your wood pieces.
Finely grind the sawdust into a fine, flour-like consistency. The resulting material can be called wood flour. Mix the wood flour with wood glue or resin to produce a putty. Make sure to know the drying time of the wood glue you will use for this.
Try to use the same sawdust from the wood itself. Color the putty the same as the wood, then use it to fill the holes. You now have your very own wood filler at no cost. You can also finish it with sandpaper post application.
#7: Garden or Dirt Path
Homeowners can use fine sawdust as garden linings for garden paths or dirt paths. Sawdust can create a natural pathway, especially when laid out strategically and aesthetically.
It is also cheaper than conventional garden or dirt path materials. You can also further accentuate these outdoor paths with rocks and garden liners. However, be mindful when adding treated wood to where animals might dig into it.
Sawdust reduces soil erosion as well as prevents the growth of weeds in your garden, reducing, dust, and mud. Furthermore, sawdust adds traction to sidewalks during the winter. It is a good alternative to salt or chemical ice melts.
#8: Prevent Weeds
Sawdust is an excellent soil amendment and an environmentally friendly herbicide. When sawdust, especially from black walnut wood, is added to your garden soil, it stomps out and suppresses the growth of weeds.
It is best to sprinkle sawdust in cracks between rocks and pavers in the garden pathways. This will effectively suppress the growth of weeds.
The active compound found in walnut wood is called juglone. It is known as a natural weed killer. Juglone will be broken down and used over time, so it is necessary to reapply sawdust.
#9: Floor Cleaning
Sawdust can also be used to clean floors. Spread some sawdust on the floor to help clean it.
Proceed to wet some sawdust with water and use it to sweep around spaces like garages, basements, or concrete floors with a push broom. The moistened sawdust will absorb dust and dirt.
#10: Ice Storage
Saw dust can be used to insulate ice. Adding layers of sawdust to ice is one of the oldest methods of insulating ice. Not only can you use sawdust to store ice but also to store root crops.
Dry sawdust is useful for storing root vegetables and bulbs during the winter. Add sawdust at the bottom of your storage containers, such as wooden boxes and plastic totes.
#11: Fake Snow
Instead of throwing sawdust away, you can turn it into fake snow. Mix equal parts of the sawdust with white paint glue.
You can now proceed to cover holiday crafts and Christmas-related accessories with the artificial snow mixture.
#12: Dry Paint
Disposing of leftover latex paint can be very trivial. Most garbage collecting companies do not allow you to throw away used paint alongside domestic trash. Thus, other disposal measures are recommended, or best to contact your local waste department.
But, mixing sawdust to paint is a quicker way of disposing of old paint. You can start with one part pain and three parts sawdust and mix. Once incorporated, remove the lid from the can, allow it to dry, and throw it away.
Furthermore, sawdust can only be mixed with latex paint. Do not mix sawdust with oil-based paint since this type of paint is extremely toxic.
#13: Add in Cement Mix
You may be surprised, but one of the tested uses for sawdust is for construction, particularly in cement. You can also mix sawdust with cement to lighten it up, especially when erecting cordwood walls, houses, and more.
The resulting sawdust mixed with cement can aid in bonding logs together. This is a sustainable method for house construction.
The mixture consists of 3 parts sawdust, 2 parts sand, and 1 part cement. The resulting mix has beneficial properties, which include insect-proof, anti-fungal, poriferous, and durable. Furthermore, it does not dissolve and decay easily.
#14: Animal Bed
Furthermore, sawdust from uncontaminated wood can be used as stuffing for animal bedding. This is a wonderful way of recycling it while providing a comfortable place for your pets to sleep.
Add a layer or several layers of sawdust to your pet’s cage and change it when necessary. Furthermore, it has the advantage of repelling fleas and bedbugs .
#15: Cat Litter
You can also use sawdust to replace conventional cat litter, especially since sawdust can hold moisture and absorb odors. Add a layer of it to your kitty litter. Add more sawdust to the kitty litter when necessary and change it out.
Do not use walnut sawdust for pet bedding. Walnut sawdust contains toxic elements that may harm your pets.
#16: Furniture Stripper
You can also use sawdust to remove furniture strippers and refine wood projects. A lot of old furniture is finished with shellac, which dissolves into gunk upon application of a paint stripper.
Mix sawdust into the stripper and let it settle for a few minutes. The sawdust will absorb the stripper to make it easier to wipe the gunk off later on.
Where to Get Sawdust
If you deal with woodwork daily, you can easily get access to it. You can collect fine dust from the dust bag found on your orbital sander or dust collection system. Collect the accumulated sawdust and place them in a garbage bag.
Purchasing sawdust is also an option if you do not regularly work with wood. You can get some from your local sawmill. You can also check online marketplaces and businesses to purchase one.
Where to Sell Sawdust
With the different known and tried ways to use sawdust, selling it will not be difficult. Sawdust can also be profitable if you know where to sell it. One of the ways to sell sawdust is through online marketplaces and online businesses.
You have complete control over the volume of sawdust you sell and its packaging. Due to its inherent value, you can get a sizeable profit for good quality sawdust.
Cautions When Reusing Sawdust
You can utilize sawdust in many different ways for your garden and house, however, use it with caution. Sawdust from MDF, plywood, OSB, particle-board and pressure-treated lumber may contain chemicals that may pose harm to plants, pets, and humans.
Avoid treated wood as much as possible. Additives that may have been added to the wood can be dangerous.
Also, take extra caution when working with this material as it can irritate the eyes and be harmful to the lungs. It is recommended to wear protective gear such as a mask when dealing with sawdust.
Alternatively, you may opt to install a reliable air filtration system for your woodshop to protect yourself from the harmful effects of sawdust.
Home improvement projects that involve woodworking produce a lot of sawdust. Do not throw the pile away. There are many uses for sawdust for your house, garden, and crafts. If you do not intend to use it, you can put it up for sale online.