10 Things You Didn’t Know Sawdust Can Do

If you’re an avid woodworker, you know that cutting, screwing, sanding, drilling, and similar activities produce a lot of sawdust. All that wood waste can be a headache. It seeps into cracks and crevices along the floor, finds its way inside your gloves and clothes, and coats your workshop with a fine patina of pulverized wood. Sure, you can get rid of it with a thorough vacuuming and a once-over with a damp mop, but the next time you're confronted with piles of sawdust, think twice before you dump this DIY by-product. Instead, consider these 10 smart alternative uses for sawdust derived from natural, untreated wood.

  1. Make Your Own Mulch

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    Sawdust mulch

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    Why spend your hard-earned money on pricey bags of wood chips when you can achieve the same result with a pile of sawdust? Spreading sawdust around the base of your garden plants can prevent weeds, help retain moisture, and keep roots cooler—all the benefits of mulch without the high price tag! Just be sure to add a nitrogen component to your garden as well, in order to prevent nitrogen deficiency in the soil.


    Related: 19 "Zero Dollar" Garden Hacks

  2. Hack Your Pet Supplies

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    Sawdust hamster

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    Sawdust soaks up moisture and absorbs odors, which makes it an ideal substitute for commercial kitty litter. Homeowners can also plump up the stuffing inside a pet bed by adding sawdust to the fiberfill. Plus, little pocket pets like gerbils and guinea pigs will enjoy having a layer of fresh, clean sawdust spread on the floor of their cage as bedding every day.


    Related: 10 House Hacks Every Pet Owner Needs to Know

  3. Sop Up Spills

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    Sawdust oil spill

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    Sawdust is highly absorbent, which makes it great at soaking up oil, grease, and gasoline spills in the garage or on the driveway. Simply sprinkle sawdust on the spill, wait for it to absorb the liquid, then sweep it away. Repeat as needed until the mess is gone.


    Related: 11 Things Never to Keep in Your Garage

  4. Grow Your Own Mushrooms

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    Sawdust mushrooms

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    Mushrooms grow naturally on downed logs and fallen trees, so it makes sense that these wood-loving fungi would also thrive on a bed of sawdust. To make your own DIY mushroom bed, combine sawdust with organic compost, and keep the mixture moist.


    Related: 7 Things Your Lawn May Be Trying to Tell You

  5. Get Better Traction

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    Sawdust path

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    When scattered strategically in your garden or wooded lot, sawdust can create a natural pathway while also reducing soil erosion and preventing weeds. What’s more, homeowners can use sawdust to increase traction on snowy sidewalks in the winter. 


    Related: 7 Thrifty Designs for a DIY Walkway

  6. Dispose of Paint

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    Sawdust paint

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    Most municipalities will not let you throw away leftover paint with the garbage, and you should never pour the toxic material down the drain. Instead of hauling unused paint or stain to your local hazardous waste facility, you can dump sawdust into the can and let it sit, uncovered, until the paint solidifies and hardens. You can then safely throw the paint can in the trash without worrying about contamination.


    Related: 11 Insanely Easy 60-Minute Paint DIYs

  7. Make DIY Fire Starters

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    Sawdust fire starters

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    To prepare for summertime bonfires, whip up some do-it-yourself fire starters with sawdust. Simply melt leftover candle wax in a nonstick pot over low heat, add enough sawdust to thicken the wax, and pour the solution into an empty paper egg carton. Cool thoroughly, then separate the wax “briquettes” and use a few to start your next fire!


    Related: 10 Genius Ways to Make Your Backyard a Blast

  8. Fill Gaps in Wood

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    Sawdust wood

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    Take a tip from professional floor refinishers and use sawdust to fill holes, cracks, and gouges in wood. Create some sawdust from the wood you’d like to patch, then grind it into a fine, flour-like consistency. Mix the sawdust powder with wood glue to create a putty, and use it to fill in the damaged areas. The color of the DIY filler will be an exact match for the wood.


    Related: 21 Clever Little Things to Do with Scrap Wood

  9. Get Crafty

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    Sawdust crafts

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    Sawdust opens up a world of possibilities for crafters and hobbyists. Mix sawdust with white paint and glue to create fake snow for holiday decorating, or combine it with green paint and glue to mimic grass. Additionally, you can use sawdust as a stuffing for custom-made pincushions.


    Related: Bob Vila's Best DIY Projects for Beginners

  10. Heat Your Home

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    Sawdust heat

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    Some homeowners use wood stoves, pellet stoves, and fireplaces as supplemental heat sources. Leftover sawdust can help keep those home fires burning, but keep in mind that sawdust burns quickly, so it takes a heap of it to feed a fire.


    Related: 6 Overlooked Ways to Warm Up a Chilly Room

  11. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!