Sawdust and wood shavings. As woodworkers, we produce considerable amount of this ‘waste’ material on a regular basis. My bag-fulls usually end up in the ‘Green Bin’ at the local Recycling Centre. Small amount can be useful for cleaning up oil spills or even starting a fire. As a child, I can recall plunging my hand in to a Lucky Dip barrel, full of prizes hidden inside the bin full of wood dust!
I’m sure a lot of you will be reading this and thinking, ‘what about animal bedding?‘. Well, despite what you might think, planer thicknessers do produce a fair amount of fine dust. It’s so small you probably won’t be able to see it until it’s settled – if you run an air filter in your workshop, clean the filters before hand and then inspect them again once you’ve finished planing! It is for this reason that I wouldn’t like to someone to use my shavings for small animal bedding. Or, am I being pedantic about the hazards of wood dust?
This morning, I’ve finally ordered the Nilfisk-Alto Aero 25-21 vacuum extractor, which should mean that most of the fine dust I produce (bandsaw, disc sander, router, etc.) ends up in a different bag to the larger particles. Hopefully, that will be with me tomorrow!
There is one company near me (Mendip Wood Shavings) who supply shavings for such purposes. I think (or, at least, I like to think!) that they do more in the way of ‘filtering’ their products before packaging them ready up for sale… As I drive past them regularly with each visit to Interesting Timbers, I suppose I should investigate whether they would purchase these bags from me!
For the past few months, since I noticed some of these things in an Axminster catalogue, I’ve had it in mind to build my own small-scale briquette press; so that I can could turn my waste in to a fuel product and sell it locally (for very little, if any, profit)… A quick Google search this morning tells me I’m already far behind several others who’ve had the same idea – there goes my shot of appearing on Dragons’ Den next year, then!!
If you have a look on YouTube, there are already some very good ideas on there on small units which look simple to build with high ‘green credentials’, as they don’t run off a mains or any form of carbon-emitting energy. [Nick, if you’re reading this, I think it would be an excellent article for Living Woods magazine, one day!!]
There are a couple of designs out there where you can form several briquettes in one operation. However, with all the water being squeezed out, they do seem to produce quite a bit of mess – probably not ideal for most workshops. Another downside is that they take several days to dry (all dependant on the season and weather conditions) so, you’d need somewhere you could store them safely.
This isn’t something I’m going to rush in to for the above reasons. However, once I’ve put a roof space over my head [could be either side of Christmas now – I’m losing patience with myself!!], I should have somewhere to dry the briquettes and a little more space near the garage door for all the manual work.
Would you consider something like this in your workshop?
I doubt there’s much (if any!) money to be made from the sort of scale we would be producing. But, if you’re only charging for the time it takes you to press them then, with no other overheads, it doesn’t sound as bad.