All this SAWDUST!

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Forum topic by Gabe C. posted 01-16-2012 04:09 AM 1806 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Gabe C.

288 posts in 2365 days

01-16-2012 04:09 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question sawdust compost

So I was just blessed to obtain a new DeWalt 12 1/2” Planer, and after cleaning up a stack of salvaged lumber, I had created a sizable pile of sawdust and shavings. When my gal came out to see how I liked my new toy, she commented, “Hey, we could throw all that in the compost, couldn’t we?”. As I will probably avoid doing that seeing as I have NO idea where those dirty pallets have been…it got me thinking. What does one do with all this sawdust? So I pose the question: What do you do with all the piles of tiny pieces of wood that you spend your time making? Are there practical avenues one could go down to create a product, or any other way to use or apply it instead of throwing it in the trash or fire pit? Also, what species’ of wood should I AVOID throwing in the compost, which will eventually find it’s way into the vegetable garden? Let me know, thanks!

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

16 replies so far

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3021 days

#1 posted 01-16-2012 04:15 AM

Avoid TREATED Lumber sawdust.
The other use of clean dust could be….Rabbit cages, some pig farms use sawdust as bedding when hauling animals. Some use it in horse trailers to soak up wastes.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View yammi450's profile


25 posts in 2685 days

#2 posted 01-16-2012 04:19 AM

what about MDF, partical board, or any other man made fiber board?

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2866 days

#3 posted 01-16-2012 05:21 AM

The mess made by old pallets I’m afraid would have to go to the curb. Keep plenty of garbage bags in the shop. I do.
For clean wood though:
Fine wood makes a good floor dry in the shop. It soaks up water real well.
Fine sawdust soaks up oil so well on concrete that it’ll “pull” it up from the concrete. Leave enough on, sweep it up, it’s like the oil spill never happened.
Pig farmers use pretty much any untreated sawdust and chips.
Horse stables use cedar chavings for bedding and stable stalls.
Hamster owners use cedar chavings in cages.
I use a wood heater in the shop. Very course shavings burn good in wood heaters.
If you have an out of way place to do it, and like fishing, make a bed about three inches thick of sawdust over the darkest dirt you can find. Keep it wet. I mean do not let it dry at all. Put waer on it every few days. Before long, turn sawdust and pick worms for fishing.
Anything else, if it’s clean, throw in the conposter. However, if you’ve done much composting, you may already know that without enough organic matter such as food scraps, all you’ll wind up with is an outdoor pile of sawdust.


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Gabe C.

288 posts in 2365 days

#4 posted 01-16-2012 05:25 AM

I do love to fish. That’s a great tip!

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

View woodnewbee's profile


76 posts in 3130 days

#5 posted 01-16-2012 05:40 AM

No cedar recommended in the compost otherwise whatever you want. if you mow grass and bag it on third wood (finer better) and two thirds fresh cut grass stirred to keep oxygen in it and you have great compost

View Zboom's profile


72 posts in 2378 days

#6 posted 01-16-2012 06:44 AM

If you like to camp check out the and search for the peterman press 2. We use these to start fires when we camp and you can also do it with paper. I also use it in compost. Check out the sawdust cannon on mythbusters although I dont recommend it ;)


-- Michael,

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Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2517 days

#7 posted 01-16-2012 02:47 PM

You’ll also want to avoid having any walnut in your compost ( something called juglone, I think) since it can be toxic not only to plant life, but put in stables can cause problems for horses and other livestock. An odd use around here (ag country) is that meat producers occasionally have to cull animals from the crop. To dispose of the carcass, many of them put it in a shed, cover it with sawdust, and within 6 weeks (for hogs) or so the carcass has dissolved into the sawdust. The sawdust is then spread onto the crop fields. The state highway dept. has recently taken to covering road kills with sawdust/chips and leaving them in place. They used to pick them up and haul them to off to decay.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View ChuckV's profile


3123 posts in 3551 days

#8 posted 01-16-2012 03:25 PM

I work mostly with local New England wood species. We use everything, except for black walnut, as mentioned above. We are not overly careful about this. In other words, if I mill just a few walnut boards, we don’t discard the whole container.

The larger pieces from the separator become bedding for our goats and chickens. The smaller stuff from the collector bag goes into the gardens with acid-loving plants, such as blueberries. This time of year, when the ground is frozen, we put the dust into the compost instead.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

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Jim Finn

2657 posts in 2946 days

#9 posted 01-16-2012 04:58 PM

I have one of my contacts (through selling my woodworking products) pick it up for composting. He takes all I can produce.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3092 days

#10 posted 01-16-2012 06:23 PM

Don’t use walnut around horses. It can cause laminitis which can permanently cripple a horse.

Particle board, MDF, and plywood aren’t good compost fodder because of the glues they contain.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3984 days

#11 posted 01-16-2012 06:32 PM

MDF and plywood are not good for planers either. Partical board will chew up your blades in a heartbeat.


View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2511 days

#12 posted 01-16-2012 06:44 PM

I cut up so much different stuff that I would be afraid to use it for anything but mulch in places that are shady, moist and haven’t grown anything in years. On our mild slopes where the rought and then rain and then more drought and more rain has caused erosion I use it as a stabilizer by wrapping it in landscape fabric and tieing it into long rolls.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View chrisstef's profile


17423 posts in 3030 days

#13 posted 01-16-2012 06:51 PM

I typically chuck it all in with the grass and lawn clipping in the back yard pile. Itll be dirt soon enough.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3098 days

#14 posted 01-16-2012 09:32 PM

I’m fortunate to own a lot that is 1.25 acres. The back portion is still uncultivated with lots of trees, brush and wild grasses.

I’ve been dumping sawdust back there for a while. I have a pile of sawdust that would probably not fit in the bed of a typical full sized pickup. Some animals have burrowed holes in it. I often wonder what I would find if I dug into it.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2714 days

#15 posted 01-17-2012 12:42 AM

I put all my sawdust and shavings in the flower beds. It has never harmed a plant that I can tell and it really helps hold moisture and decreases the frequency of watering. Sawdust/shavings seem to compost into black dirt on its own in the flower beds in less than a year. I have used walnut, treated, etc over the years.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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