Ever wondered what to do with the thick coating of wood dust all over the shop? Getting rid of wood shavings and sawdust is a problem every wood-worker faces, and not every community is as welcoming of the waste as others. Some of these creative ways to dispose of your wood waste can help clean out the shop and even give back to others.
Reuse & Recycle!
Throwing away a resource like sawdust isn’t exactly a go green attitude, and in most cases, a township won’t accept that kind of waste anyway. Instead, considering reusing and recycling your wood dust. There are endless ways to dispose of it in a way that is great for the planet and also helpful around the shop. In some cases, you can even make money off of your sawdust and wood chips left over from woodworking projects.
Top 8 Ways To Creatively Dispose Of Sawdust
Those bags of sawdust sitting in the corner taking up space can actually be put to work in a whole new way, and here are 8 awesome ideas to help you dispose of the mess while completing more projects.
Using old wood waste as kindling and firestarters is the most popular and useful way to dispose of your wood chips. It’s pretty easy to do as well, and there are multiple DIY methods of doing it. I’ll link the best video I’ve found that will give you step by step details on how to build your own fire starter. Basically, you’ll need some wood glue and a container to build it in. Some people use empty egg cartons, others use lids, so get creative .
Next, mix your sawdust with a moderate amount of wood glue until you’ve got a thick, gloopy paste, and allow to dry in your mold. Once it’s finished hardening, you’ve got a perfect firestarter.
- Very handy use
- Easy to make and always in demand
- A fun craft
- You have to be willing to do these extra steps
- Not great for winter or cooler months
Here’s a video showing you step by step on how to create your own fire starter. If you follow the steps on the video, here are the supplies that you will need (links all go to Amazon).
2. Animal bedding
Hamsters, horses, and even outdoor dogs and barn cats love soft wood shavings as their bedding material. Many wood types are great for this, and there are a few different ways you can prepare the wood shavings to be ideal for your animals. Smoking or kiln drying sometimes helps, but even just on their own, pine and fir are excellent for livestock.
Blending together absorbent, soft wood chips and different drying methods and having fun playing with your options will help you discover what works best. You can also create the bedding and sell it, similar to a couple of the other options on this list, if you have more than you can use at home for your animals.
- Potential to make money
- Serves your pets and livestock
- Saves you money when you don’t have to purchase your own bedding
- Not all wood types are acceptable! Black walnut is dangerous to horses and other animals.
- Has more than 1 step involved
- Only good for wood shavings, not so much the dust
3. Cleaning up
Having a bag or bucket of sawdust and thin wood shavings nearby is perfect for cleaning up any sort of spill or mess. It will soak up oils from a spilled can of wood stain or remover, as well as water, soda, and coffee spills. Just toss some of the wood dust down over the mess, wait a moment, and sweep it up easily. Perfect for those oops moments.
You can also use it for general shop cleaning. Putting some on the ground and dampen it, and use a broom to push it around and grab all those hard-to-reach debris in corners and lying on the floor. It will capture it all up together in a nice pile and it’s easily thrown away.
- Cheaper than cleaning products
- Helps prevent things from staining your floors
- Great for bulk wood dust supply
- Technically, you’re still throwing it away in the end
4. Donate to farmers
Many farmers are always looking for spare sawdust and wood chips, and they have plenty of ways to use it, too. If you don’t want to go through the trouble or repurposing it yourself, consider giving it away to a local farmer. From mulch to bedding to repair projects, they’ll use it for many of the things on this list, but it’s off of your hands so you won’t have to worry about it a bit.
Donating is also just a generally nice thing to do, and though you could probably sell it and get a profit, many farmers are appreciative of your wood shavings. Maybe you’ll see a nice return in some fresh eggs or milk, or any other sort of favor you may need down the line.
- Great for bulk removal
- Helps others
- You don’t have to do anything, they’ll handle it all
- Unlike some options, you won’t make a profit
- It doesn’t directly benefit you
5. Sell online
Piggy-backing off of the former idea, if donation isn’t your style, sell it. Farmers, craftsmen, and others are always willing to spare a few bucks in exchange for more wood dust, so you could actually make a little extra pocket change for the bags of junk.
You’ll want to keep your prices low and utilize local selling options. Maybe a Facebook garage group or the marketplace, or Craigslist for a lot of bulk bags of wood dust. Either way, keep in mind that many others give it away for free, so don’t go looking to become rich quick with this method.
- Get a profit!
- Helps out others
- You could even get into bartering for things you need
- Great for bulk disposal
- You have to deal with online marketplaces
- No guarantee you’ll have a buyer
- More complicated and time consuming than other methods
6. Community Green Bin
While some towns and cities may have rules about not allowing wood waste in their society bins, others encourage it and even have stations set up that accept organic resources for disposal. These Green-minded communities take it and reuse it in ways that best fit the area.
Check in with your recycling rules and disposal rules for your area. The municipal building should know, or you can call the mayor’s office to find out the exact rules and restrictions regarding wood waste disposal. If you have access to a recycling plant that accepts sawdust and wood shavings, use it to your advantage!
- Easiest way to get rid of your wood waste
- You know it’s going to a good use
- Requires some research
- Not applicable for everyone
- Doesn’t directly benefit you
7. Get crafty with it
If you have lots of wood dust sitting around, you’re probably pretty familiar with making things. If you have many woodworking projects, you’ll probably know all too well the issue with dents, holes, knots, and imperfections. In furniture making, this is especially relevant, since the various attachments may not always fit as desired.
Using your wood shavings in your projects to patch, fill, or improve your creations can be a great, efficient way to get rid of it while also reusing it. Mixing your sawdust with invisible wood glue or a patching agent for loose spots or fills.
- You can make better creations
- Easily patches and fixes problems
- Little effort involved
- Won’t actually use that much of your wood waste
- Not as many options for bulk wood dust
- Not ideal for larger shavings
Probably the most popular way of repurposing your wood dust and shavings is by making into food for your plants! Mulch is a great way to take your mass source of wood waste and turn it into something beneficial for your planet, and it’s not even hard to do it. In fact, there are tons of online tutorials and suggestions, and even companies that will do it for you.
Adding nitrogen into your sawdust and using it to build your garden soil will have a massive return in healthy planting. Till your fresh wood shavings and sawdust in with a nitrogenous fertilizer, only 1-1 ½ inches into the ground, and reap the benefits.
- Reduces pests
- Improves your soil and plant health and encourages stronger growth and larger harvest
- Quickly uses lots of bulk wood dust waste
- Not all wood is safe for this method! Acidic woods like black walnut, and even cedar can have adverse effects on your soil
- If you mess up, you could ruin your harvest
- It’s technically a fire hazard in hot, dry months
The Biggest Danger – Black Walnut & Cedar
This was mentioned in the list, but you need to take careful measure when it comes to using your wood dust and shavings for living things. Animals and plants aren’t going to be able to handle the effects of Black Walnut or Cedar, so do your research and keep these dangerous types away from those that grow.