Making Sawdust

Now that the workshop is finished, Hubby has started his first real project.

He is building cabinets for the closet in our bedroom. It’s a walk-through closet (the idea of which we hate) between the master bedroom and bathroom. The builder installed shelves that were of shoddy construction and poor design. Plus, despite having a tile floor in the bathroom and hardwood in the bedroom, there was carpet on the closet floor.

The whole closet was just dumb. So Hubby is correcting it by building cabinets. We’ll still have to walk through the closet to get to the bathroom, but it is sure going to look WAY better when he is finished.

Step one of the closet project was buying the lumber. He got it a month or so ago. Wood needs time to acclimate to its surroundings (adjust to the humidity level).

Hubby with his pile of lumber.

As you can see in that picture, he bought lots of lumber. The darker wood (from his hand down to just below his hip) on top is soft maple. He’ll be using that for the cabinet faces. The lighter lumber at the bottom is poplar. He’ll be using that for one of the closet drawers and another project.

He purchased rough, unfinished lumber. It is WAY cheaper than buying finished wood, especially when you get into hardwoods.

The lumber most of you are probably used to seeing is the finished, dimensional lumber sold at places like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Builder’s Supply, etc. The most-common size of dimensional lumber is the two-by-four.

A two-by-four, which is sold in various lengths, actually measures 1 1/2 inches tall by 3 1/2 inches wide. It is sold by and referred to as its nominal or starting size.  The finishing or smoothing out of the wood takes an average of a quarter inch off of each side.

How do you take a quarter inch off? Sanding is one way. But that would take a LONG time. When you need to flatten, reduce the thickness of, and create a smooth surface on a rough piece of lumber, you use a plane (when done by hand) or planer (when powered by electricity).

While I was away on my girls’ weekend at the end of February, Hubby spent the weekend making sawdust. Literally.

Hubby running a piece of unfinished lumber through the planer.

Get this… he filled NINE, 42-gallon trash bags full of sawdust.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of those bags filling about a quarter of our garage.

"Ze Planer, Ze Planer!"

It takes multiple passes on each surface of the wood to get it to the right smoothness/thickness. But even just one pass makes a huge difference.

A side-by-side comparison.

You have probably figured out that the board on the left is after being run through the planer while the board on the right is the rough wood.

Like most people, I’m more used to seeing the finished stuff. When Hubby showed up with trailer full of rough lumber, my first thought was, “What’s he doing with that junky wood?”

Finished vs Unfinished

There’s the same wood from a wider angle.

Rough lumber is much thicker than the finished piece.

In that last shot, you can see how much thicker the rough wood is when compared to the finished piece. The vertical piece of wood upon which the rough lumber rests, which is 3/4″, is an example of the thickness Hubby had to take each board down to.

Scroll back up to the first shot of Hubby with his lumber pile and perhaps you can imagine how he ended up with NINE bags of sawdust.

What does one do with nine bags of premium sawdust? You could take it to the dump, or you could do the responsible thing (like Hubby) and give it away.

Another unique aspect of horse country is that sawdust is actually in huge demand. Farmers use it as horse bedding. Perhaps other large animals need it, too? Not sure. What I do know is that the lady who responded to Hubby’s ad on Craigslist for free sawdust was THRILLED. Turns out she has some young sons in 4H raising chickens, and chickens love sawdust. Sawdust isn’t cheap.

It was a win-win situation. We got our garage back and she got plenty of free sawdust. She called a couple of days later to report that her chickens, which hadn’t laid an egg for months, were now laying in the sawdust.

Next time we amass a collection of sawdust to share, she’ll bring us some fresh eggs in trade.

Step two of the closet project, which I’ll address in the near future, is demolition.

Any idea how long this entire process is going to take? Let’s just say we’ll be living in a construction zone for a while.

3 Replies to “Making Sawdust”

  1. I am in awe – you sure have a handy hubby! I wouldn’t have thought there was much demand for sawdust; good solution to get rid of 36 gallons (that must be about 100,000 liters! :-)). Can’t wait to see the pictures of the finished thing.

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