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Make the most of sawdust

Pouring liquid into cup of sawdust
These dozen ways to recycle sawdust might even make you question thin-kerf blades.

First-rate firestarters

Pack sawdust into paper muffin cups, above, or a cardboard egg carton. Melt paraffin wax or old candles in a double boiler, pour over the sawdust and allow to cool. Slow-burning when lit, these hotcakes make great starters for a fireplace or campfire.

Spill soaker

Sprinkle sawdust on oil or finish spills to absorb the mess, then complete the cleanup with the appropriate solvent or soap.

Sawdust on a grease spot

Wood filler

Drizzle a little glue in that less-than-perfect dovetail, box joint, or finish-nail hole, hit it with the random-orbit sander and watch the imperfection fade away. Use this technique under clear coats because stains and oil finishes may reveal dried glue.

2 photo of dovejoints

Board dryer

A garbage bag or cardboard box full of sawdust from kiln-dried lumber absorbs moisture and speeds the air-drying of green boards and turning blanks.

Cold-weather mastery
For traction, sprinkle sawdust on icy walks and driveways. Darker shavings absorb sunlight to speed melting.

Mulch
On established garden plants, sawdust suppresses weeds. It robs nitrogen from the soil as it breaks down, stealing sustenance from shallow-rooted weeds. Particularly toxic to plants, walnut sawdust should be avoided as a mulch, but as a weed and grass killer, it shines.

Putting board into bag

Compost

Mix a ratio of three green (lawn clippings, kitchen scraps, etc.) to one dry (sawdust, dried leaves, etc.) in your composter for garden-enriching compost.

Aromatic sachets
Working with aromatic cedar? Collect the shavings, bundle them in a fabric, such as tulle or cheesecloth, and tie them off with a pretty ribbon for a closet-scenting gift bag.

Green compost containers

Meat smoker

Pile slow-smoldering sawdust among your smoker's chips to ramp up the smoke output. Hint: Use apple, pear, and cherry-wood sawdust for fish and poultry; hickory, maple, and oak for beef and pork.

Warning: Never burn sawdust and chips from pressure-treated lumber, MDF, plywood, particleboard, or any processed wood containing glues, finishes, or chemical treatments. Burning these generates toxic smoke and ash.

Putting sawdust on coals

Animal bedding

Poultry farms and horse stables use sawdust as both bedding and bathroom. Pets, such as gerbils and hamsters, benefit from cedar or other odor-masking wood shavings.

Warning: Never supply walnut sawdust for horse bedding. Toxic elements in walnut
absorb through hooves, inducing a crippling -- or even fatal -- disease called founder.

Horse on sawdust

Pottery kiln fodder

Copper-laden Raku glazes achieve their beauty in a sawdust-fueled secondary firing. The intense flare-up followed by a quick smothering creates a variegated coloring in the glazed areas and carbon blackening on unglazed surfaces.

Trade commodity
When you've used all you can possibly use, share that sawdust wealth. List it on online classifieds boards, such as craigslist.org, and wait for the offers.

2 pictures of pots

Pouring liquid into cup of sawdust
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