The most abundant material you generate in your woodworking workshop is sawdust. Although sawdust and wood shavings are two types of waste that come from woodworking, there is a surprisingly large number of ways to use this waste.
Woodworkers do various things with sawdust. You don’t have to throw away the sawdust and wood shavings generated during woodworking. This material finds numerous uses, which helps to recycle the waste instead of cluttering landfills already full to overflowing. You can put sawdust to good use and get benefits from it.
The more woodworking you do while cutting, sanding, drilling, and planing, you generate huge amounts of sawdust. It can be annoying and even hazardous. It gets into cracks and crevices to clog up and make a mess.
Regular vacuuming or an efficient sawdust extractor can take care of this issue. But before you think of disposing of the piles of sawdust you collect in your workshop, consider using it in the following ways:
#1 Wood Filler
One of the commonest uses of sawdust is to make wood filler. If you mix various adhesives with sawdust, you can make a cheap but excellent paint-grade wood filler. It serves well to fill holes, gaps, and gouges in wood.
The most suitable adhesives to use are carpenter’s glue, epoxy, white glue, waterproof glue, and expanding glues. After the wood filler dries, you can sand it down and paint it over it.
#2 Clean Up Spills
Sawdust works like a sponge. Although wood is already an absorbent material, in sawdust form, it sucks up even more liquids. Store a quantity of sawdust in a container in a convenient location.
When you spill liquids like oil, varnish, or chemicals, on the floor sprinkle a bit of sawdust on it. When you sweep up the sawdust, the spilled liquid will also come along with the sawdust. In the meanwhile, the sawdust reduces the danger of slipping in the spillage.
Even as a general practice, you can sprinkle some sawdust on the floor when you are mopping up. The fine dust and grime stick to the wet sawdust, cleaning the floor better than using only a wet mop.
#3 Get Rid of Old Paint
It is usually illegal to dispose of liquid paint in the trash or empty it into the drain. You can wait for a can of used paint to dry and then dispose of it once it becomes solid. But maybe you don’t want to wait that long.
Mix sawdust into used liquid paint to make a slurry. Wait for the slurry to solidify. You can now dispose of the solid mass along with the rest of your solid waste.
#4 Drying Fresh Wood
As you know, sawdust is super absorbent. But is also very dry. These properties of sawdust make it an excellent drying agent for wood.
When wood first comes from the mill it can have a high moisture content. If you cover freshly milled boards with dry sawdust, it will accelerate the drying process by preventing humid air from getting to your wood.
#5 Useful for Outdoor Paths
If you live in a place with freezing temperatures during winter, then your pathways can get rather slippery with snow or ice. Sprinkle a bit of sawdust on your paths. It will gradually improve the traction on your path, gradually making it more robust.
You can demarcate your path with a few rocks or garden liners. Be aware, however, that treated wood contains harmful chemicals. So, avoid using sawdust from treated wood on your pathways to keep your pets safe.
#6 Sawdust Creates Good Mulch
If you are into gardening as well as woodworking, then you might be surprised that you can use old sawdust to create mulch. Walnut sawdust is a natural weed killer. So, you would do well to add it in between the pavers in your garden path.
Mulch has multiple benefits like conserving moisture, enhancing soil nutrients, reducing the effects of pesticides, heavy metals, and fertilizers, and controlling erosion. Sprinkle some sawdust around your plants and hedges but do so sparingly so as not to stunt the growth of your plants.
#7 Sawdust Makes Good Compost
You can compost sawdust if it comes from natural, untreated wood. You can prepare sawdust compost just the way you would for regular compost. Add your sawdust to the compost pile and mix it in.
Wait for the usual time that it takes to make regular compost. After the required time, use the compost in the usual way.
#8 Animal Beds
If you have pets like rabbits, hamsters, Guinea pigs, or even horses, you will find sawdust to be a versatile medium for lining their cages or hutches or stables. You can also use wood shavings.
You must keep in mind that animals are allergic to certain types of wood. For example, walnut wood chips and sawdust is harmful to horses, and it’s better to avoid using them for any pets.
Similarly, rabbits are highly allergic to pinewood. So, before using sawdust, wood shavings, or wood chips for animal beds, it would be advisable to do a bit of research.
#9 Smoking Meat
Smoked meat is tastier than regular meat and generally more expensive. But you can burn sawdust and wood chips to smoke meat at home. You may need to do a bit of setting up.
Once you have your setup, adding your waste sawdust and wood chips to your smoking chamber or onto your barbecue coals will become a routine. Avoid walnut woods but fruit woods like apple and cherry create palatable flavors.
You might even end up making your meat-smoking enterprise into a side hustle and earn a bit of extra money!
#10 As Fire Starters
Starting a fire is somewhat of an art that everyone isn’t good at, especially when it comes to outdoor fires. The wood could be wet or the weather windy. This simple recipe will solve all your fire-starting woes for good.
All you need are a few old, used candles and a whole lot of sawdust. Melt some old candles in a muffin tray and mix in some sawdust and allow the mixture to cool down.
Once you remove the solid wax-sawdust layer, you can cut it into small slabs to use as briquettes to start your fire. Alternatively, you can pour the melted wax-sawdust mixture into empty egg cartons to get readymade briquettes once the mixture has cooled down and solidified.
As you can see, there are countless ways you can use old sawdust. Use your imagination, and in line with these useful ideas, we are sure that you can come up with a few good ones of your own.
Always be aware that sawdust can be harmful to health, so exercise caution while handling it, and wear adequate protective gear. Be especially careful while scattering it outdoors as some types of sawdust are toxic.
We hope these ten things we have featured here that woodworkers do with sawdust add to your woodworking experience. When you work on your woodworking projects, you should not be too concerned about what to do with the huge amounts of sawdust you produce.