All Replies on What do you do with the wood chips and sawdust?

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View Jamie's profile

What do you do with the wood chips and sawdust?

by Jamie
posted 12-28-2007 08:54 AM

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73 replies

73 replies so far

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4388 days

#1 posted 12-28-2007 12:25 PM

So far I’ve just tossed it. There are so many clever people here, though, that I’ll bet some great ideas surface.

View relic's profile


343 posts in 4450 days

#2 posted 12-28-2007 03:18 PM

We recycle ours. Saw dust will rob the nitrogen from the surrounding soil, so we use urea pellets. A layer of saw dust, a layer of pellets. If you have a large compost pile mix the the dust/chips in with it. This will help break it down quicker. Just a little at a time. Hope this helps.

-- Andy

View jpw1995's profile


377 posts in 4811 days

#3 posted 12-28-2007 03:37 PM

A true Lumberjock uses sawdust to season his food. Who needs salt and pepper? Just use maple and walnut!

-- JP, Louisville, KY

View Paul's profile


660 posts in 4606 days

#4 posted 12-28-2007 04:12 PM

Relic -

Urea pellets? Where do you get those?

I throw them in a “compost” pile but I know it’s not a very good one since the only green matter that goes in the pile is when I wait too long to mow the grass and I have to rake.

If I’ve been working with plywood though, I just pitch the dust (glue contamination).

We talked about it some here:

-- Paul, Kentucky

View EGA's profile


223 posts in 4326 days

#5 posted 12-28-2007 04:19 PM

If you have any red cedar chips to mix with it, dosen’t take much and it will keep the critters like, flea’s, ticks and any other cooties out. I’ve seen red cedar shaving’s sold at a different variety of stores. One more thing, it will make ole rover smell more on the agreeable side. Semper Fi !


View relic's profile


343 posts in 4450 days

#6 posted 12-28-2007 04:21 PM

We use a product from the local feed store called “urea ice melter”. You could use a high nitrogen based fertilizer as well. Remember the more you turn your compost the faster in breaks down.

-- Andy

View relic's profile


343 posts in 4450 days

#7 posted 12-28-2007 04:27 PM

I just thought, if composting is a solution for you or your thinking about it, our sister site might be helpful.

-- Andy

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4407 days

#8 posted 12-28-2007 04:29 PM

I put just a tad in the garden every year with a load of manure

I put some on top of landscaping fabric under some of the large trees

but the bulk of it I lay down on a trail I am constantly expanding that goes through 14 acresof wetland forest.


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 4505 days

#9 posted 12-28-2007 05:05 PM

i burn most of mine in my wood furnace.

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 4379 days

#10 posted 12-28-2007 05:42 PM

I’ve heard of pressing the dust into wood pellets for a wood stove. I wish I had a stove and then a press for this… Currently, what I don’t breath or spread out to the rest of the house I collect on the floor and shop vac or sweep into a bin that goes straight out to the compost pile. Then my dog sleeps in it and brings it back into the house for us. One of those circle of life kind of things.

-- He said wood...

View Karson's profile


35202 posts in 4914 days

#11 posted 12-28-2007 07:06 PM

I have a garden area that I put about 2-3” of shaving and sawdust on and then rototill in. When I get around to actually planting a garden there I’ll take into account the nitrogen problem.

My pile after planing some Goncalo-Alves, Holly and Mineral Popular

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4051 posts in 4577 days

#12 posted 12-28-2007 07:14 PM

I mix mine with the lawn clippings and compost it behind the shop. I till it in occasionally and add composted cow manure to aid the nitrogen deficit. After it breaks down we use it as a top dressing around plants in the garden and add it to potting soil for Pam’s floral display pots.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View Jamie's profile


161 posts in 4327 days

#13 posted 12-28-2007 07:17 PM

I currently have a forced air propane heater in my shop, and I thought about getting rid of that for a wood (or pellet) stove. You can see the heater I have in my workshop pics. That would be an excellent idea for recycling (or at least getting rid of it)...

Anyone interested in buying a fairly new forced air propane heater? :)

-- Jamie, Kentucky

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4674 days

#14 posted 12-28-2007 07:19 PM

Mine goes in my dad’s garden, along with the grass clippings and such. So far it has not hurt any of the plants, and he loves it so it works out great.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Joey's profile


276 posts in 4329 days

#15 posted 12-29-2007 12:43 AM

Garden and compost piles are great, just remember or be aware that walnut can be very toxic to other plants. Not sure what is in it or why but it will kill some plants especially tomatoes.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4820 days

#16 posted 12-29-2007 01:28 AM

There’s always this “fire starter” topic that was discussed on lumberocks earlier…

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View Jody's profile


6 posts in 4335 days

#17 posted 12-29-2007 03:38 AM

I use some of my hardwood shavings in my side fire box meat smoker for added flavor. The rest I till into the garden or use them as ground cover for less hardy plants during the winter months. 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. 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.

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4590 days

#18 posted 12-29-2007 04:41 AM

I use the shavings from my planer for our pet chickens. I use mostly spruce and poplar.

You may want to look around your local are to see if there are any chicken owners who may be greatful for the bedding.

-- BLOG -

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4613 days

#19 posted 12-29-2007 04:47 AM

#1. Don’t get rid of the propane heater. You already have it installed.

#2. You can add wood or pellet heat. Use the propane on a minimum setting to keep the shop from freezing in case you don’t have wood or you go away for a few days.

I use some saw dust in compost but not black walnut or pine. They have toxicity and acidic issues that are hostile to other plants and animals when breathed in.

I bag and throw most of it away. 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.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Dave Nagy's profile

Dave Nagy

1 post in 4319 days

#20 posted 01-01-2008 10:25 PM

Since I work mostly with pine, the sawdust goes to a compost pile, usually with table scraps that will be used in gardening in a year or so. Sometimes, the sawdust goes into the trash if I’ve picked up non-organic material from the floor or if it’s mixed with plywood or treated lumber dust. Recently, my wife and daughter used some planer residue to make fire starters for our use. One consideration is to put it in a bag and ask if the local girl scout or boy scout or another youth organization in your area would use it for fire starters or other purposes.

Dave Nagy

-- Dave

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 4312 days

#21 posted 01-02-2008 03:11 AM

I leave mine near a low rent trailer park so they can use it as fuel to cook meth… Not really.. I bag it and give it to a friend that uses it for fuel in his wood burning stove.

-- making sawdust....

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4683 days

#22 posted 01-02-2008 04:07 AM

Mine goes to my daughter. She has two horses and uses it for bedding then recycles it again in her garden.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View Robert Smith's profile

Robert Smith

102 posts in 4434 days

#23 posted 01-03-2008 12:53 AM

It makes a great mulch but Black Walnut, dust or shavings will kill plants.

-- Robert, [email protected]

View DocK16's profile


1186 posts in 4600 days

#24 posted 01-03-2008 01:55 AM

Composting is the best way to get rid of sawdust but it takes a long tiime for it fully breakdown to good organic material, as long as 5 years. Composting is dependant on air and moisture, if the center of your compost pile is dry or cold get out the pitch fork and mix it up. A mixture of green and brown (grass and leaves) along with table scraps (not meat) and a little sawdust (50% or less) makes great organic material. Ditto on the walnut toxicity.

View jude's profile


147 posts in 4462 days

#25 posted 01-03-2008 07:37 PM

Eleven useful ways (and one not-so-useful way) to recycle sawdust:

1. Mulching out weeds in the backyard.
2. Give it away for pet cages like hamsters and rabbits.
3. Make fire starters (use an old egg carton – the paper kind, fill each section with sawdust, melt wax, pour wax into each section, (be careful with the hot wax),then rip one off when you need it.
4. Soak up dripping fluids and spills in a garage.
5. Put into compost piles. Sawdust balances the green stuff like grass trimmings. You can bag it in 40 gal trash bags and give it to gardeners. (BUT: walnut sawdust can be to your plants because walnuts and other members of the same family (butternut, hickory, etc.) produce a toxin in their leaves, roots and bark that’s designed to kill off other vegetation around them. The toxin is called “juglone” and it’s basically a way for walnuts to ensure they have less competition for light, nutrients, etc. The theory is that if you put fresh walnut shavings in your garden some of the toxin can leach down into your soil and kill your plants. However, not all plants are susceptible to it and theoretically the wood itself does not contain nearly as much of the toxin as the other parts of the tree.)
6. A person with livestock might want to take it off your hands (BUT:The dust from a hobby shop is not the same as shavings from an industrial mill. The hobby shop saw dust is fine enough to harm the animals. Wood shavings are better to use with livestock because they are larger.)
7. Hank Phillips uses oak sawdust in the smoker when he runs out of wood chips. He moistens a few heaping handfuls with some beer, and throws a clump or two in when it needed it.
8. The ‘Furniture Guys’ use wood shavings to rub down furniture when cleaning the finish with Napha. They like it better than steel wool because it removes the finish without scratching the wood underneath.
9. Mark Page: “I have a high composition of clay in the soil here, that’s why it’s Clay county here in Missouri. Sawdust first goes into the flower beds and garden. Any left gets sprinkled into the lawn. Another note that I follow and I guess it is right, is that sawdust takes nitrogen out of the soil to decompose, so you have to supplement with nitrogen fertilizer.”
10. Raku pottery uses sawdust in their process. This includes filling a steel garbage can with sawdust and newspaper. Then you take the pottery out of the kiln and put it into the sawdust while it is still red hot, where it quickly lights a fire. The sawdust creates a unique finish for the pottery.
11. John Bailey: “I save my bandsaw dust to use as epoxy filler. Dust from the random orbital sander is good also.”

and not so good, #12. “A number of years ago I went on a tour of Winnebago Industries in Forest City Iowa (in fact I went a few times while waiting for service on my RV). The tour included the cabinet shops where large amounts of Sawdust was produced most from MDF, particle board or plywood the same material any cabinet shop would produce. Their dust and scrap collection was impressive. Piles upon piles were left outside. It was explained that Pig Farmers would take all they could as Food for their pigs. I questioned the composition of the waste and was told that since the company was formed in the 50s, this was how they disposed of their sawdust.”

-- life can always be weaved into a song.

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4504 days

#26 posted 01-03-2008 09:39 PM

My dog lies in it while my grandson plows it and loads it into his Tonka trucks, and then the three of us end up tracking it thru the house…which gets the little woman screamin, and all that produces heat! I’ve also found out that if you give her a breath mint first, then you’ll have an air freshener too.

  • No, she doesn’t read this. Why do you ask?

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View CaptnA's profile


116 posts in 4326 days

#27 posted 01-03-2008 10:56 PM

Why would you do anything with it? I suck it up and when the vacuum is full its time to throw it out and buy another one. Right??
As always good reading. I had never heard of the toxicity of walnut et al. Maybe that’s why my tomato plants do so poorly at times. I have heard of using walnut and or cedar in bedding for dogs to keep fleas and ticks away. Better start segregating my dust/chips.
I remember seeing something on “dirty jobs” where they cast bells with animal dung – maybe they’d like to try sawdust instead!
I try to save some dust/chips to use on spills and it works well and is more affordable than the clay materials ( kitty litter etc).

-- CaptnA - "When someone hurts you, write it in the sand so the winds of forgiveness will scatter the memory... "

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4813 days

#28 posted 01-03-2008 11:48 PM

I spread my shavings on paths up at my lake property, I don’t have to mow the paths.

I have a hard time getting grass to grow under my Black walnut tree. This article explains it.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4388 days

#29 posted 04-08-2008 11:24 PM

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?

-- -- --

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 4422 days

#30 posted 04-08-2008 11:41 PM

I just let it collect on the floor in my garage shop, then when I get yelled at for the umpteenth time by my better half, I break out the yard blower and force it out onto the driveway and then under the trees in my front yard. Some of it goes around other plantings as mulch…. no need to waste a natural thing.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 4279 days

#31 posted 04-09-2008 01:09 AM

From what I know, if you don’t burn it, use it as bedding for pets or in paths, etc…... it should be pitched. I’m one of the “greenest” guys you’ll find, but wood shavings can cause big problems in the compost pile or as garden mulch.

View Earle Wright's profile

Earle Wright

121 posts in 4233 days

#32 posted 04-09-2008 01:18 AM

A lot of stables can use sawdust for stable bedding, but be sure not to contaminate your offerings with walnut dust and shavings ….... bad news for horses.

-- Earle Wright, Lenoir City, Tennessee

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4388 days

#33 posted 04-09-2008 04:59 AM

Yeah, the guy I talked to confirmed that it shouldn’t be used for regular garden compost – the sawdust robs nitrogen from the soil – but apparently that’s not a problem for the ‘shrooms.

-- -- --

View cronk's profile


33 posts in 4635 days

#34 posted 04-09-2008 05:28 AM

yes, fresh sawdust does require more N to break down. it still is a viable use just remember to add extra N when using it fresh. Blue berries like fresh mulch. our problem at the Gnarly Wood Shoppe is black walnut as we have been using quite a bit lately. keeps everything down as a mulch because of a growth inhibitor that it secretes.

-- cronk, oregon

View Twiglet's profile


1 post in 3840 days

#35 posted 04-16-2009 10:33 PM

If you have potters in your area that have a kiln they love the sawdust (maybe wood chips too) for Raku pottery. They surround the pots with sawdust in the kiln and produce a beautiful irredescent glaze.

View johnpoolesc's profile


246 posts in 3873 days

#36 posted 04-16-2009 10:42 PM

compost, but not walnut or some of the other high oil woods.. they get used as firestarter. every year when i work up the veg garden i plow in a truck load of shavings.. holds water and adds worm food. after doing that for 20 years, the garden has great soil

-- It's not a sickness, i can stop buying tools anytime.

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

273 posts in 4266 days

#37 posted 04-17-2009 07:37 AM

Currently, mine blows out the back window and goes into a compost pile. The stuff on the floor goes into the wood stove. It gives off alot of heat quick.

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

View i82much's profile


25 posts in 3900 days

#38 posted 04-17-2009 05:18 PM

I’m involved is Scouts, so I take a couple of handfulls along with some dyer lint and place in a small paper lunch sack and staple closed.
Works great as a fire starter
Havent had to use the air pump for mattress to “help” things along since.

-- At the end of my life...When I meet my Maker...Will I be seen as...a giver or a taker

View Mike's profile


391 posts in 4130 days

#39 posted 04-18-2009 02:03 AM

Depends, I have used some to fill with a little glue, roll it in a ball and fill a nail hole.

I also burn the dust in My outdoor fireplace, Chips depends what kind Cherry I use in a smoker, oak and some others also.

Nothing like a little cherry flavored steak.

-- Measure once cut twice....oh wait....ooops.

View's profile

262 posts in 3922 days

#40 posted 04-18-2009 02:57 AM

I find it dries up muddy spots in the yard pretty good. It turns the mud into carpet.

-- "Safe woodworking isn't just about avoiding injury, it is also about avoiding extinction." CKG

View juju's profile


2 posts in 3650 days

#41 posted 10-24-2009 05:23 AM

Just a little note- Red Maple, cherry and Walnut sawdust or chips can kill a horse. Just walking on or inhaling the dust or walnut can give your horse founder, so please don’t use that for bedding or trail material. Rabbits and other small caged animals can also die from it. Walnut, pecan, buttternut, and hickory all produce juglone, the chemical that kills animals and plants around those trees. Red Maple can kill a horse, too, so be warned. Just thought some who were using it as bedding might want to know this.

View tonycr28's profile


62 posts in 3650 days

#42 posted 10-25-2009 01:11 PM

I use the pine sawdust for horse stalls. Everything else I just dump over the hill. Good reminder juju about the various other sawdusts in relation to horses.

-- Tony, Pliny,WV "Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one."- Robert E. Lee

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 3680 days

#43 posted 10-27-2009 04:11 PM

My neighbor takes all I can give them for Cattle bedding.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View AaronK's profile


1508 posts in 3978 days

#44 posted 10-27-2009 04:38 PM

ive been using it as mulch around shrubs and small trees for a few months now (trying it out). so far so good.

-not in the garden mulch or compost, on account of the nitrogen imbalance. i figure as beds on shrubs it just sits on top and prevents weeds and doesnt interact too closely with the soil underneath.

View SEE's profile


119 posts in 3680 days

#45 posted 10-28-2009 02:20 AM

I use the larger shavings for starting fires in the woodstoves in the house and shop. Sometimes I’ll add a little to the compost pile. (Don’t use walnut shavings or dust for any plants. They don’t like it!). It also makes for good bedding for dog houses, and chicken coops, as others have pointed out already. This time of year I burn most that I generate.

-- Build for the joy of it!

View almidaltd's profile


2 posts in 3496 days

#46 posted 03-26-2010 07:53 PM

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[email protected]

-- [email protected]

View fladdy's profile


95 posts in 3526 days

#47 posted 03-27-2010 02:48 PM

My dad uses his sawdust for traction in the snow when he gets stuck or the neighbors get stuck. I’ve never tried it, but he swears by it.

-- Fladdy

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3499 days

#48 posted 03-27-2010 04:19 PM

I make paper. :D

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4287 days

#49 posted 03-27-2010 06:30 PM

We have two big composters for our garden and turn it into compost. In the winter I spread it on the garden and till it in the spring. We also use it in the flower beads.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3994 days

#50 posted 03-27-2010 07:53 PM

We toss ours here, but my father composts his (nothing special, just a big pile behind his shop, turns it once in a while mixing it with kitchen compost, and after a few years you’ve got rich black top soil for a garden), I’ve also heard of using a pelatizer so it can be burned in a fire place with little danger of flash fire.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

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