Turning Sawdust and Shavings into Fuel

Shop owners discuss machinery that makes logs or briquettes out of wood waste. April 30, 2006

We are finally up and running with our millwork shop, and I'd like to know what manufacturers make sawdust pellet or sawdust log machines. I don't know anything about them, but we need to do something with the curls we are generating. It doesn't seem very responsible to throw it all away, and our landscape division could never use all of what we produce. We can't burn it in our shop for insurance reasons, and would like to do more with it than give it away to farmers on a random basis. That just seems like we're doing a lot of work for them, and if they don't pick it up when the bin is full, then what?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor F:
I think you may be out of luck on that score. I have worked for outfits that pay a recycling service to keep a bin on the property that the sawdust gets blown into by the dust collection system. If you are disposing of your sawdust for free, then you are better off than some others. I give mine to people that keep horses for keeping the stalls tidy.

From contributor D:
There are European manufacturers of the briquette machines, an electric/hydraulic high pressure affair with a hopper, screw feed, compression chamber and extrusion outlet. You might try looking in Ex-Factory. I have never had direct exposure to these, and understand moisture content, species and type of dust/shaving is a factor. The log types require a wax additive to bind it all together. It is a good idea on more than one level, and why they aren't more available is a question. They are expensive, but 3-4 years of landfilling will pay for one.

From contributor J:
You should find a company similar to the one we use (New England wood pellet). Our shavings blow right into one of their 40' trailers. When it's close to full, we call them and they swap it for an empty one. I think they give us 100 bucks for a load and we don't have to worry about a thing!

From contributor M:
Weima US sells briquetters that take just the sawdust and compress it without the addition of any extra binders. They are costly, though.

From contributor R:
We have a barter agreement with a company that makes industrial abrasives. Similar to one above, they park a trailer and swap it out when we call. We do not pay them, they do not charge us.

From contributor C:
We have a briquetter from Comafer. In Europe they are used a lot in small to mid size shops. Ours will brick about 80kg per hour with a 7 HP motor. Not enough to keep up with the moulder if we run for more than 1 hour. Larger outputs are available. They work by compressing the shavings with 2 hydraulic rams. All natural and they burn clean in a stove. Shavings brick better than wide belt dust or fine dust from the saws. They make special machines to work with fine powder from large MDF or plywood cutting operations. Ours is usually 80% shavings, so no problem. We heat our home and have plans to heat the shop if gas prices keep rising. I have had limited success selling them but have not advertised because the interruptions of retail customers stopping to buy a couple bags might get costly.

As fuel and disposal costs keep rising, you will see more of this type waste disposal equipment on the market. If you can get someone to pick up a trailer like a couple posters mentioned, that would be the most cost effective. Just not possible in our rural area.

From contributor E:
We have a silo that it is piped into from there. It is either sold to the horse people for I think 25.00 a truck load or, in the winter, it is piped into a blast furnace to heat the kilns.