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  • Writer's pictureMarkBuildsIt

What Do I Do With All My Shavings?

Every woodworker struggles with this question.

I've made every effort to keep as much of my business waste as possible out of the landfill. I recycle all my cardboard and paper. Metal too. We burn scraps for heat or sell them by the barrel to local wood turners.

But what to do with the mountain of shavings that piles up in the yard as workbenches go out the door?

When I had a small furniture company we had as many as 5 employees. With 3 of them dedicated to making furniture, and thus shavings, we had a lot of volume to move. We didn't make enough to justify an industrial pellet press. And they didn't make the small presses you can buy now. But it was too much to dispose of by making mulch rings around every tree we could find.

Find Yourself a Good Mule Breeder

Horse breeders will work too. Anyone with large animals that poop. All we had to do was call our guy up when the outdoor cyclone bin was full and he would be over within a few days to clean it out. He could fill the bed of his truck with 30 gallon trash bags two or three times before the bin was empty again.

Now I pretty much work alone. During my busy season I only fill up four or five 55 gallon bags every couple weeks. I use walnut pretty regularly these days too, which could cause problems with his mules. It's no longer worth his time to drive out for just a few bags. And it's not worth my time to empty out the collector every time I need to work with walnut.

Build Yourself a Composter

This spring we finally got around to building a composter. I found this plan and expanded it to allow for more volume as well as longer composting time. I made it taller than the plan too, but I wouldn't recommend you do the same, as you will see in the video.

Chickens Provide Nitrogen

We trade some of our shavings off to a small egg farmer for chicken litter. We send them away as waste and they come back a few moths later full of nitrogen. The Egg man gets the same deal. Chicken waste for clean bedding. Everybody wins. And raising chickens is all the rage these days. I'm sure you can find someone willing to make the same trade.

Shovel. Add Water. Shovel. Add Water...

After you've got the basic ingredients its just a matter of time and effort before you've got some great amendments for your soil.

I hope you enjoy this video. I'll try to update you on the process in the next few weeks.

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