10 Surprising Uses for Sawdust

Don’t toss all that leftover sawdust after you’ve completed your latest woodworking project. Surprisingly, what many think of as trash can be more valuable than you'd ever imagine.

By Joseph Farley

 

All avid woodworkers and weekend carpenters know one thing is inevitable when working with wood, like death and taxes—sawdust. All that drilling, sawing, and sanding create piles and piles of the stuff. Even if you hire an outside hand or a professional contractor for home construction, you’ll still be dealing with sawdust.

 

Oftentimes, cleaning the pesky stuff up can be as much work as the project itself that created it in the first place. If you’re going through all that trouble and have such an excess of leftover material, then you might as well go green and get something out of it.

 

Check out the 10 surprising uses for sawdust, and when you’re through reading this article, hopefully, you’ll be convinced that you’re sitting on a pile of treasure rather than trash.

 

1: Tough on Nasty Spills

The garage and driveway can often be a magnet for hard-to-clean spills like oil and gasoline – we’ve all had that car that hemorrhages oil all over the driveway at some point, haven’t we? Sawdust can be quite effective at cleaning those spills up at virtually no cost to you.

 

Sprinkle sawdust directly onto the stain, wait a few minutes, and then sweep the sawdust and the stain should come away with it- repeat as often as needed. There’s a reason the janitor at your school would throw some sawdust down after that kid who always vomited stuck again – it’s cheap and highly effective at soaking up nasty spills.

 

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2: Make Mulch

Instead of buying multiple bags of high-priced mulch for your garden, you can just as easily spread sawdust around the base of your flower garden. Often sawdust will do the job just as good as store-bought mulch at preventing weeds and retaining moisture – sometimes even better!

 

If you decide to use sawdust in place of mulch, just be sure to add a nitrogen component to your soil first. This is as easy as mixing it in shortly before you lay the mulch, and it’s recommended that you use 1 pound of nitrogen for every 50 pounds of sawdust.

 

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3: Perfect for Pets

Sawdust is great at soaking up moisture and odors, so it can be effectively used in place of kitty litter, which quite frankly, can be costly and smell awful. You can also use it for cleanup when your kitten inevitably misses the litter box or your brand new puppy doesn’t quite make it all the way outside.

 

Simply sprinkle sawdust over pet accidents for a quick and economical cleanup. Or, use it for caged pets like mice, gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs. They’ll love having fresh, clean sawdust to make a comfortable living area for themselves.  

 

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4: Starting Fires

Ditch the newspaper and all that potentially harmful ink next time you’re trying to get a fire going, sawdust is safer and far more effective. It doesn’t matter if you have a fireplace, a backyard fire pit, or are planning on a beach bonfire, sawdust can help get the fire going for you.

 

Sprinkle a generous amount of sawdust along the bottom to create a base, and then place your twigs and logs over it. You’ll find that you need way less (if any) newspaper to get the fire going anymore, and, it will burn faster.

 

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5: Great for Gardening

One of the most surprising uses for sawdust is how great it goes in the garden. If you pride yourself on your green thumb and you aren’t taking advantage of saw dust, are you truly getting the most from your garden? It can really work wonders for your soil.

 

Also, it can be great for growing delicious mushrooms. In nature, mushrooms grow on fallen trees and logs, or, in simpler terms, wood. So, it makes tons of sense that you can use sawdust to start your own mushroom bed. Just mix the sawdust with a little organic compost, add mushroom spawn, and keep the mixture moist.

 

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6: Fill Wood Holes

Here’s a great tip that the pros use to fill holes, cracks, and pesky gouges in wood: use sawdust. Mix the sawdust from the same wood you’d like to repair with wood glue until you get a putty-like consistency. Then, use it to fill in the damaged areas.

 

Bonus—the color of your filler will exactly match the wood you’re repairing, so no need to worry about aesthetically unappealing inconsistencies.

 

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7: Weed Killer

Sawdust from wood, especially walnut, is a natural weed killer. Weeds can be a serious pest in any garden, lawn, or driveway, so take advantage of some of the amazing properties of sawdust. You can simply sprinkle some in your garden or law, or sweep some of it into the cracks and crevices of your driveway. Sawdust contains Juglone, a chemical toxic to many plants that tend to pop up in undesirable areas.

Nobody likes the look of weeds on their property, as they often make it look run-down and abandoned. Never worry about that again as long as you remember to save your leftover sawdust.

 

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8: Great for Traction

When workers are logging in harsh conditions – like an ice-cold winter – they will often throw down a base of sawdust to give their trucks traction. It helps compact the snow, giving them safe passage and protection the ground beneath.

 

This can easily be extrapolated and used in your driveway and neighborhood during a snowstorm, and it makes for a great addition to any roadside safety kit, as you never know when you might need additional traction.

 

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9: Clean Floors

Sawdust isn’t just highly effective at soaking up nasty spills – it is also a subtle yet powerful cleaning agent. Take your excess sawdust, moisten it with a bit of water, and use it to sweep up your garage or patio floor.

 

Your wet sawdust will absorb and collect all that unwanted dirt and grime, leaving your floors looking spotless. This works especially well on concrete, which we will dive further into below.

 

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10: Protect Concrete

Extend the life of your concrete floors by using a wet sawdust cleaning solution every now and again. The sawdust will subtly bond with your concrete, giving it a softer surface that will make it more resistant to outside damage.

 

Sawdust works so well with all kinds of materials, and it has long been used to lighten up cement. The versatility of sawdust is truly incredible, and the fact that it can protect tougher materials is one of the most surprising uses of sawdust.

 

 

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When you’re working with wood, sawdust is unavoidable. You’d be shocked by the number of people who toss this versatile material into the trash without as much as a second thought.

 

But, if you start using some of the tips and tricks above, you’ll find that sawdust is more valuable then you ever imagined, and the 10 surprising uses for sawdust prove this in spades.

 

Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shutterstock.com

Next: 6 Tips to Give Old Artwork a Makeover