They say there are two things that are certain in life: death and taxes. But if you’re a woodworker, you can add “wasted wood” to that list as well. Sawdust, for starters, is a guaranteed byproduct of almost any woodworking job. Leftover wood shavings litter the floor of your shop after planing or chiseling. Every pass of the sander leaves a cloud of grainy particulate in its wake. And no matter how meticulous you are when selecting your boards and planning your cuts, accumulating a pile of scrap wood is inevitable.
Many municipalities forbid throwing woodshop scraps out with your weekly trash pickup, so this could be a problem for the regular woodworker. But fear not! There are so many ways you can put your spare wood to work, this list is virtually endless. From using sawdust and wood chips in landscaping to creating a comfy new home for a critter, here are some of our favorite tips for how to reuse sawdust and scrap wood.
Tips for reusing your scrap wood and sawdust.
Create fire starters. Smaller pieces of wood are best when you’re starting a fire – and nothing is smaller than sawdust. Take some of your coarser sawdust, mix it with some tiny wood chips, and grab a muffin pan. Then, melt some candle wax in a pot or pan on the stovetop, sprinkle in your wood mixture, stir it up, and pour it into your fire‑making muffin molds. Any candle wax will do, but this is a great opportunity to use wax from old candles around your house that would otherwise be thrown away. How’s that for killing two birds with one stone?
Patch things up. Sometimes your joints aren’t as perfect as you’d like. Sometimes you nail in the wrong place. Well, simply mix some of your finest sawdust with your preferred wood glue to create filler for small gaps or holes in virtually any wooden surface. If you’re patching a joint seam in a project where looks are especially important, consider using sawdust from the same type of wood and experiment with a few different wood glue mixtures first to ensure the color matches.
Get gardening. Did you know that most mulch contains wood chips? Create your own by combining some of your small‑ and medium‑size wood chips with a nitrogen supplement or fertilizer. If you do any sort of gardening, this is a great way to reuse your sawdust and scrap wood in a practical way while saving some money in the process. Your plants – and your wallet – will thank you.
Line a pet cage. If you don’t have a pet rabbit, hamster, guinea pig, or other furry critter, chances are you know someone who does. Wood chips and shavings are commonly used to line their cages and crates, so feel free to volunteer your scraps to someone who could use them. Some types of wood can be toxic and should not be used in pet cages, so be sure to do some research first if you plan to try this tip out.
Soak up nasty spills. Paper towels may be super absorbent, but they aren’t the best choice for cleaning up after poor little Timmy with the stomach flu couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time. Use the school janitor’s secret recipe instead – a blend of sawdust and wood shavings! It’s incredibly absorbent and great for any spill you’d rather clean up with minimal contact. This also works well for oil and paint spills in the shop.
Use as packing material. Here’s an especially useful tip for entrepreneurial types who frequently ship their finished projects to customers. Wood shavings are a nice, eco‑friendly alternative to packing peanuts and bubble wrap. Use them to fill the space around your items and prevent them from moving around too much in transit. Just be sure to cover any surfaces that might be scratched by them first.
Try something new. If you don’t already, start to see your scrap wood as a valuable opportunity to get better at woodworking. Do you drool over beautiful inlay work or flawless mortise and tenon joints as you scroll through Instagram? No matter how skilled or unskilled you think you are, your pile of scrap wood gives you risk‑free opportunities to try new things. If you are motivated to improve, practice and dedication will guarantee it.
Make pretty wooden flowers. Because wood shavings were born to be pretty flowers.
One last tip.
If all else fails, you can use some of your pieces of scrap wood as makeshift clamp pads by placing them between your projects and your high‑quality Pony Jorgensen clamps before clamping. Browse our collection of finely crafted clamps today and discover why woodworkers from all walks of life have trusted us since 1903.