Monday, December 3, 2012

DIY Sawdust Fire Log

This weekends activities brought many adventures to the Mini Farm and instead of cramming it all in one post, I decided to share a little throughout the week. 

Believe it or not I found myself bored at one point during the two day weekend. I was sitting in my shop trying to think of something to do and coming up empty. I searched through my project list and soon found many items on the list that were still out of reach or they would have taken several days to build.
All I was looking for was a quick one hour job and I actually found it by tripping over it.

On my way out the door to stand outside, scratch my head and look around for my next great build I tripped over my sawdust bucket. I save all my sawdust in the shop for help with starting fires in the pit. The buckets were piling up getting in the way and I needed to do something with them. I also save all the shredded paper from the house for the same reason and also to put in the compost bin. I also save my wood ash from the fire place for the gardens and for the chickens to dust in. That is when it hit me. I needed something so I can get rid of this stuff and maybe combine them all together. That is when I can up with the Saw Dust Log Press.

I took some cedar 1x6 and some scrap 1x2 with a little hardware and started to build.

This picture is what I finally came up with. I didn't take the time to research this and I am sure there are many designs out there a lot better than this one but I think this design will fit my needs. 

 With the press built I was on a mission to gather all the materials and mix it up to see if this will work.
Taking a few big hand fulls of shredded paper, A two gal bucket of sifted sawdust and a couple of hand fulls of wood ash. I mixed all that with water to a soup like effect. 
 After letting the mixture sit for about an hour to soak, I took hand fulls of the mixture, squeezed out as much water as I could and then began to fill the form all the way to the top.
 Once the form was full I pushed the plunger down by hand as hard as I could to squeeze out some water and then placed a couple weights on the handle to give it some down pressure.
Whenever I thought about it I would go by and push down on the handle to expel out more water. I did this until there was no more water to push out.     

I let the form sit in the sun for a day and then disassembled it to reveal a nice pressed sawdust log.
The log will still need to dry for about a week just like an adobe brick to harden and cure. At this stage it is a little spongy, but it is stiffing up really good.
 I can't wait to see how this thing burns. 

So there you go, a quick and simple way to find another use for all that stuff you are saving. This log can be burnt all by it's self or broke off in sections and used as fire starters.


  1. did you use sherdded news paper also? and how about dryer lint could that go in there to?

    maybe left over candle chips would burn also?
    just asking love your idea and have some of this stuff lefover also

  2. Anony, After making the combo I have read that people do use wax chips as a binder. I did use shredded paper and that is the binding like straw is to an adobe brick. The ash mixed with the water makes like a mortar to help it all stay together. The amount is undetermined at this point. If I want a stiffer log next time I will use more paper and ash. If it is burning too slow then I will add more paper and less saw dust.
    Dryer lent is a fire starter in it's self. I don't know how it would bond with the sawdust and paper.
    I hope to make these all year and have several for next winter.

  3. Nothing like trying to keep yourself busy and not bored. Great idea my friend!

  4. Genious! I am still stuffing paper towel & TP rolls w/lint, adding a 'wick' & covering w/wax on each end for my fire starters. I have so many now, that I've asked people to stop bringing me their lint.

  5. Thanks DFW but I don't know about the genius part.
    I have never really used dryer lint for starting fires. I know it works great but I just never done it. I guess I need to make some up just so I can say I did.

  6. How did it burn? We have loads of smaller animals and as a result have buckets of sawdust left. I got the idea and found your blog. You said you'd check out how it burned. So how was it? I really hope it burned well as I hope to do the same as you.

    Already thought of some mods I'd put into place. Small holes to let the water out, but cover the holes with fine wine mesh, to keep the particles in.

    Very impressed with your build, simple but effective!

    Great job.

    1. Thanks Anony,
      They burnt a little slow. I had to add more paper, less sawdust and lass water. Then I had to let them dry a little longer. Just tweak your recipe on it till you get it right.
      They work great if broke up and used for fire starters or I also just throw them in the fire pit outside.
      Good luck with yours and let me know how they turn out.

    2. The longer you let the paper soak the better. I dry mine on a old sliding door screen suspended on lawn chairs. No need for sawdust. I use sawdust as a fire starter with egg cartons and wax. After the wax dry's, break the pods apart and light it.

  7. Just seen this it looks good do you have any measurements please

    1. Thanks alwyn, Sorry no measurements. I just decided what size log I wanted and kept it small enough so it would dry quicker. I would say the logs are about 1' x 4" x 4".
      I hope this helps

  8. That's the coolest fire log I have ever seen in my entire life. Great invention.

  9. So old crayons could be ground up in a pencil sharpener and used as a binder/accelerator and those oak and mesquite twigs should also probably be thrown in too. Wonder if a metal box and press plate could be set up in a hydraulic log splitter for a super press? Maybe a 6" pipe and an iron plate piston?

  10. Oh, boy! I have access to LOTS of sawdust from the wood shop at the local high school. I'm going to PLAY with this....thanks for the idea

  11. Probably good to be careful what you make the logs of, if you plan to burn them in a fire pit with people sitting around enjoying the fire. Dryer lint will burn well (just ask someone who was not diligent in keeping the lint screen clean) but if there are man made fibers in it, it may give off toxic fumes. Same with using sawdust from treated wood.

  12. Horse or cow manure could be used to make fire bricks too. I might give it a try.

    1. Witnessed cow manure as fuel first-hand in India a few years back. They just mixed it up by hand into a ball that they slapped onto the side of a sunny wall to dry. When dry they just popped off. I can tell you they smell terrific when they burn, no joke, and they burn hot and slow with little smoke. I failed to notice what, if anything, was mixed into the 'chips' besides the manure.

  13. Hi I am in the UK and saw your post. Totally brilliant, but I have cheated and bought a press recently, and I have been diligently making my "bricks". So far nearly 100, and they are quick to make. I use a good mix of paper (not the glossy stuff) and sawdust from logs I saw up. The press makes a solid sturdy brick. As it is cool still here I have a few drying out on the hearth near my stove.

    I have found that a mixture of white paper and newspaper and 5th of sawdust has given the best result in my two days of pressing. At the rate I am going I will have about 1000 before the Autumn arrives.

    Thanks for sharing. Love the press.

  14. If you built a solar oven / kiln, you would greatly reduced drying time. I have been toying with making something as I cut logs every summer and end up with a largenerous pile of sawdust.