Can you use Sawdust to help dry lumber?

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Forum topic by JCam posted 11-07-2013 09:10 PM 3303 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 1823 days

11-07-2013 09:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hey guys, I was wondering if you could use sawdust to help dry smaller pieces of lumber?

A decade and some change ago I did my first oil change and failed to tighten the oil filter enough, bad advice from someone who said it only needed to be hand tightened, and when I started the car about three quarts dumped out all over my father’s garage. Cleaned most of it up with rags but concrete floor was still extremely slick. I dumped a shop vac full of saw dust over the area and rubbed it in and it was as if nothing had happened after a couple hours.

If I built a simple box, 2×2x3 and filled with saw dust, to throw small branches in that neighbors have discarded would it help to properly pull out moisture from the wood or increase the chances of splitting and warping from drying too quickly.

-- -- Cameron --

18 replies so far

View robscastle's profile


4888 posts in 2174 days

#1 posted 11-07-2013 09:19 PM

Sawdust as you have found out absorbs moisture so it may work in reverse if you cannot reactivate it.

Best to use simple air drying and test for moisture as it seasons.

It will be interesting to monitor the results of the saw dust use just the same

-- Regards Robert

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3071 days

#2 posted 11-07-2013 09:35 PM

I find this to be the fastest, most complete way of drying logs I intend to use and it sucks the moisture out of the shop in general…..........................

-- mike...............

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

28973 posts in 2308 days

#3 posted 11-07-2013 09:49 PM

If your sawdust is very dry to start with it may help. However, it could hold the moisture in just as easy. Proper stacking out of the weather with a fan blowing over it is still the best.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View JollyGreen67's profile


1663 posts in 2732 days

#4 posted 11-07-2013 10:35 PM

As us woodturners do – put your small piece in a cardboard box, surrounded by sawdust, check once a week for dryness.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected !

View mahdee's profile


3874 posts in 1737 days

#5 posted 11-07-2013 11:21 PM

If you are in humid environment, the sawdust will absorb the humidity very fast and perhaps creates a slow process of drying time. Those cedar logs you have will hardly ever check or split if you don’t introduce heat too fast such as during turning and especially sanding.


View JCam's profile


13 posts in 1823 days

#6 posted 11-08-2013 02:00 AM

Thank you for the responses, I appreciate the feedback.

-- -- Cameron --

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3440 days

#7 posted 11-08-2013 02:22 AM

all saw dust is dry right? :/

View GOOD LUCK TO ALL's profile


418 posts in 1697 days

#8 posted 11-08-2013 02:35 AM

Can you use Sawdust to help dry lumber?

If you light it on fire….:>O

View JollyGreen67's profile


1663 posts in 2732 days

#9 posted 11-11-2013 03:31 AM

Well ;o) , I stand corrected about the saw dust in a HUMID environment – but – out here in the wild west of dust dry New Mexico, the saw dust and box method works best.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected !

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3547 days

#10 posted 11-11-2013 04:41 AM

Good air flow in a dry warm atmosphere works best.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3637 days

#11 posted 11-11-2013 12:07 PM

No, the moisture is INSIDE the wood. Sawdust might soak up a bit of moisture from the outside of the wood but in the long run, it would actually retard drying, by restricting airflow around the lumber.

As I was told by a very accomplished turner, the reason greenwood is packed in bags of sawdust, is to slow down the drying of thin turnings, helping to avoid cracks.

Dry heat, moving air and time are the options.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2928 days

#12 posted 11-11-2013 04:19 PM

Sawdust will slow down the drying as it inhibits air flow around the piece. It will allow the piece to get as dry as the environment it is setting in, but of course no dryer.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Post_Oakie's profile


84 posts in 2123 days

#13 posted 11-13-2013 03:02 PM

You’re right about not wanting the pieces to dry too quickly. Better than sawdust, would be to end coat the pieces with a couple of coats of latex paint (any color). I end coat logs with a product called Anchor Seal before putting them on my sawmill, and it really helps. This keeps moisture from moving out through the ends of the pieces too quickly, which is the main cause of splitting. How dry the wood needs to be depends on how you plan to use it. A lot of techniques, such a wedges in a trestle table, allow the wood to shrink even after the piece has been built without damaging it.

-- Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.

View nineiron's profile


9 posts in 1671 days

#14 posted 12-06-2013 11:39 PM

Yes sawdust is great for drying green timber after turing.
Simply roughturn the green timber.Place in a bib and surround with the saw dustor shavings from previos turings.
Place in a cool dry place and wait for about 3 mounths.
Timber should be ready to fin ish turn.

-- Brian, Australia N/I

View TerryDowning's profile


1076 posts in 2087 days

#15 posted 12-07-2013 12:36 AM

from the wood turner’s perspective using shavings (not Sawdust) from the project to regulate moisture content while drying a rough turned item is a proven practice. It actually extends the drying time though and helps control cracking.

I would not use sawdust to accelerate dying lumber or logs though.

Seal the ends to control the moisture content until ready to process. Once processed into lumber, sticker it for drying.

-- - Terry

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