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Thread: Turning woodworking dust and chips into burnable "logs"

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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    Turning woodworking dust and chips into burnable "logs"

    This week, I successfully burned a pressed log that I made solely out of dust and chips collected in the woodworking shed. For a long time, I have been crerating more dust and chips than I can easily dispose of. The city doesn’t want them either in garbage or in garden recycling material. I tried then as mulch, but the material tends to clump up and, so, later it becomes hard to work into the soil. It is possible to incorporate a bit of the dust and chips into my own compost bin where it is well mixed with other material. It is also possible to burn by throwing handfuls onto a fire in the stove my workshed, but that is messy. As a result of all this, I have now accumulated 5 very large paper bags of dust and chips. Here is a photo of two of the bags:

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    What to do? The clumping in the garden gave me an idea. I drilled some holes in a large can, made a removable wooden top, wet some dust and chips, pressed them into the can, then let the mixture dry for a couple of days. I thought that the clump would simply drop out of the inverted can, but that didn’t work. I had to take off the bottom and cut the can down the side in order to remove the log”.

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    After drying the log for another five days, I put some kindling under it in the stove, lit the kindling, and obtained a good fire. Here is one photo taken about five minutes after lighting the fire and another taken twenty minutes later:

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    By the way, the dried log held together fairly well before I burned it, but it certainly would have come apart if not handled gently.
    Cheers, Frank

  2. #2
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    Of course, I don’t want to cut a can apart for every log that I create so, this week, I built a form that can be used to make a large rectangular “log” block:

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    The form is designed to be temporarily held together with clamps. In the first picture below, the dust-chip-water mixture is being pressed into the form and in the second picture the lid has been hammered down pushing out as much water as possible:

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    After a couple of days, the form was removed:

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    There is a small crack about two thirds of the way from the left side of the block, but I don’t expect this to be a problem.

    The next time I make a block, I will mix in a little plaster of Paris, and see if that improves the solidity
    Cheers, Frank

  3. #3
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    Oct 2006
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    Tokyo Japan
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    Frank, how about a 6" piece of HD PVC pipe? Cap on one end, NOT the PVC ones as they are hard to remove, but a wooden one and then a small hydraulic jack? Got to be careful, as you would be making a lot of pressure.

    I think you should just buy your milk in the old style paper cartons, then pack the sawdust into the carton, they would lite easy too!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Ablett View Post
    Frank, how about a 6" piece of HD PVC pipe? Cap on one end, NOT the PVC ones as they are hard to remove, but a wooden one and then a small hydraulic jack? Got to be careful, as you would be making a lot of pressure.

    I think you should just buy your milk in the old style paper cartons, then pack the sawdust into the carton, they would lite easy too!
    Stuart, I like your second suggestion and will give it a try. The olny problem I see is that milk is more expensive in those containers.
    Cheers, Frank

  5. #5
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    Mar 2008
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    new york city burbs
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    Ive noticed on several occasions when I put out bags full of only sawdust, my trash collectors, one of them put the bags into the cab of the truck.
    I figured he must be using it for either his garden or some slippery and wet work area.
    I never asked him. Im happy they just haul it away and thats that.
    Human Test Dummy

  6. #6
    Sounds like a great idea,

    I was just thinking that a piece of PVC pipe would do a great job as the brick probably hangs up on the ridges of the can.

    Once again, back when I could do it, I used to take the dust and shavings out to my daughters property and scatter into the woods undergrowth. Also in the fall we would pack lifted flower bulbs in damp sawdust tucked safely in a dark corner of the basement. Also a neighbor of my daughters used to take it to scatter about in the mud around his barn and feedlot.

    The the dust/shavings log is a good idea if you can figure a quick and easy method of compressing. I believe those fire starters are simply wax and compressed dust. Keep trying to find a way to recycle dust and shavings as we all have a common problem.

  7. #7
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    Vancouver Island, Courtenay/Comox Valley, British Columbia
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    That's a terrific idea.
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  8. #8
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    Oct 2006
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    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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    I have been asked about the amount of water that I used in the mixture.

    The rectangular block is approximately 10cm x 10cm x 40cm and I used about 2 litres of water.
    Last edited by Frank Pellow; 11-01-2011 at 02:11 PM.
    Cheers, Frank

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
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    Although I haven't tried it, I have dreamed about the PVC pipe bit, and the shavings mixed with a small amount of flour. In old days, ordinary baking flour and water was used for paste (even as wallpaper paste), and when dry, flour burns. Therefore my untested plan included using flour in the water to make a better binder for the shavings in the log.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Oak Harbor Washington on Whidbey Island
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    Well well well how about a chunk of well casing or steel pipe, with weep holes all around with a lid held in place much like a paint pot. Welded into a frame work with a chunk of round plate to come up from the bottom & a hydrolic jack to press the water out.
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

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