Where do all my shavings go?

5 October 2013, Woodturning in practice, Would you like to leave a comment?

Apologies for the lack of blog posts of late – as you may have guessed, I’ve been fairly busy with C-Art over the last couple of weeks and that has just come to a close. I’ve now got all my orders to complete and there’s a lot of other stuff to do…

People often ask me were my shavings go, or if I have a use for them. I’d love to say that I’m able to compress them into pellets for the stove, or sell them to pet shops for bedding – if only it was all that easy! However, they do still have some uses.

During the rough turning stage, the irregular chunks of wood must have about 60% of their weight turned into shavings – and that is before they are slimmed down during the finishing stage. Even when chain sawing, there are loads of shavings produced.

The top image shows the mere start of a turning session! Below, the shavings have been bagged and are ready to be taken away…


Lots of bowls make lots of shavings!...


They all need to go somewhere, so here’s a couple of ideas I’ve come up with...

Dump them in a big pile, somewhere out of sight!...


Okay, this isn’t quite true, but the pile has been growing for about a year. The idea here, is that the shavings will be used as a mulch and will hopefully suppress the grass, which was once a vegetable plot. They can then be dug/rotovated in and will break down eventually. This probably won’t suit everyone, but option 2 might…

Surface improvement for wet areas...


I've used them for garden paths, borders, rough tracks and driveways. On this occasion, I was approached by the owner of the woodland, who had problems with a very boggy access path. The shavings mix in with the mud and knit it all together. They do eventually rot down, but turn into what is more like leaf mould, than sloppy mud. Each year, I can keep on adding more and they always seem to disappear!

I have in the past taken them to the local recycling center and dumped them in the composting bin. However, I’m always keen to find a use for something and prefer not to throw things away.

Jonathan Leech

Written by Jonathan Leech

Jonathan Leech is a woodturner working and living in Cumbria. He specialises in making bowls, dishes and platters from local sustainably sourced timber. Read more or about Jonathan or see a selection of his work.

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