sawdust chipped off from a pencil
Photo: Laura Johansen
Manufacturers use this common by-product in countless ways: to make particleboard or as a fuel source for boilers, for example. If you're working on a home-improvement project, chances are you've got a few piles of sawdust in your garage, too. Here are some ways to keep it out of the trash bin:

1. Make fake snow. Mix sawdust with white paint and glue to cover holiday crafts with simulated snow.

2. Get a grip. Winter loggers spread sawdust on their truck paths. It provides traction and strengthens compacted snow while protecting the ground underneath.

3. Soak up spills. Keep a bucket handy for accidents. Sawdust is highly absorbent and can quickly contain spills of oil or paint.

4. Feed your plants. Sawdust mixed with manure or a nitrogen supplement keeps your plants healthy and moist, too.

5. Make a fire starter. Melt candle wax in a nonstick pot, add sawdust until the liquid thickens, pour into an empty egg carton, and let cool. Use the briquettes to help get a fire going.

6. Fill wood holes and defects. Used by professional floor refinishers, very fine sawdust or "wood flour" makes an excellent, stainable filler when mixed into a putty with wood glue.

7. Pack a path. Tamp sawdust into a dirt walkway to curtail erosion and create a soft, fragrant pathway through your garden or wooded lot.

8. Chase away weeds. Sawdust from walnut wood is a natural weed killer. Sweep this variety between the cracks of your walkway.

9. Lighten up cement. Sawdust mixed into mortar has long been used when erecting cordwood walls to aid in bonding the logs together. Do the same when casting lightweight vessels and moisture-loving planters.

10. Clean a floor. Moisten a pile of sawdust with water and use a push broom to sweep it around the concrete floor of your garage, basement, or shop. The wet sawdust will capture and absorb fine dust and grime.
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