Sawyers vs. Sawdust
Cutting logs on a Woodland Mills portable sawmill creates many things for our sawyers; joy, satisfaction, cheap lumber, and of course - sawdust. It can make your workspace a mess and be a pain to dispose of, but once you find a use for it that you like, you may discover that you never have enough.
Here are a few great sawdust tips and tricks from your fellow Woodland Mills sawyers.
Most sawyers don't mind sawdust going directly on the ground, but some need to keep their workspace a bit tidier. It may seem simple but hanging a bucket to the side of your mill will catch the sawdust. People have used cardboard, bags, and other items to do essentially the same thing, but a bucket is a simple and commonly used method. Some sawyers have even added a vacuum to the bucket, so it doesn't need to be emptied quite as often.
It seems like a shame to throw all that sawdust out, so some of our sawyers choose to use it as free wood for their outdoor fire pits.
Burning straight sawdust can be dangerous so pick yourself up a cheap brick press. Mix your sawdust with a little bit of vegetable oil, put it in a brick press, and have some nice bricks to throw on the fire. Now just get out some marshmallows and you are all set.
Build With It
Some suggest experimenting with concrete when you need to use up a lot of sawdust at once. Mix your sawdust in with some cement, sand, and water to make an environmentally friendly substitute for concrete. Not only is it lightweight and affordable, but it is also a great insulator, absorbs sound, and is flame resistant because of the cement binder. It has the added benefit of acting like lumber when nailing or screwing into it.
Fill muffin papers with sawdust and poor melted wax on top to make the perfect little fire starters. It's a great way to use up your old candles at the same time!
Garden With It
Sawdust can be quite helpful in the garden. It is commonly used for compost, mulch, and even filling mud holes and pathways. Sawdust needs nitrogen to compost quickly, so mixing it with grass clippings, chicken manure, or simply buying some nitrogen from the store to mix in, will help tremendously.
When using sawdust as mulch make sure you know which tree varieties your sawdust is made up of. This can help you get the best results from your garden. Cedar is a very versatile mulch, while Pine is best on acid-loving plants like Hydrangeas, Dogwood, and Daffodils. Sorry to all of you milling Black Walnut out there. It might make beautiful live edge slabs but can be detrimental to your garden if used as mulch.
Clean With It
Mixing 6 cups of sawdust, 2 cups of rock salt, and 1.5 cups of mineral oil in a container makes a nice DIY sweeping compound. Make sure to store it in a sealed container away from open flames. It may seem counter-intuitive to sprinkle sawdust onto your floor to clean it but the oily sawdust and salt trap the dust and debris so that it does not become airborne. The result is an even cleaner floor. This works best on unfinished wood or concrete floors since the salt could cause scratching on finished flooring. When you are done, dispose of the compound according to local regulations.
Oil spill in the garage? No problem! Sprinkle a little bit of sawdust on it. For oil stains leave it covered for a few days. Sawdust is extremely absorbent so it should lift the oil right out of the concrete.