Shavings for Sale

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The always resourceful sawyer crowd discusses the packaging and marketing of wood chips. February 9, 2005

I have been running a small custom moulding shop now for about a year. I have been giving my shavings away in 350-500lb topsoil bags, which I get from a local greenhouse. Apparently, the local feed store sells 25lb bails of wet chips for +-$4.00. I have sourced 4mm poly bags for bagging the shavings and have labor available to bag them. My question is about compaction. Has anyone ever tried to draw a small vacuum on a poly bag of shavings to compress them a bit? I can't press them in the bag because it will tear, but can I suck some of the air out?

Forum Responses
(Value Added Wood Processing Forum)
I sell bulk for animal bedding. Forget the handling. I'd rather have the shop time at my rate than worry about getting a few pennies more for a few bags of chips.

From Steve Bratkovich, forum technical advisor:
This is a good example of a potential value-added enterprise. Selling shavings by the individual bag will likely bring a higher unit price to the seller, as compared to selling bulk. If your bottom line can be improved by bagging the shavings, then you have a true value-added situation. However, if your added costs to bag are greater than the increase in selling price, then bagging the shavings is a money loser. You just have to run the numbers and see how it looks.

I collect shavings off the planer and shaper with a dust collector. I use plastic feed bags as large as I can find. All mine go for cattle bedding (the horse people also use lots). You can sell all you can produce. Get them to bring your bags back for refill.

I have my chip collector ducted to the back of an enclosed trailer. I've been giving the chips away, but production has been increasing (small part time business expanding) and now I am thinking of marketing the shavings/chips. They are pine, coming out of a Logosol 4-head moulder. Would landscape companies be interested in this? I've been told that the horse stables won't want it because of the occasional splinters that are in it. Have you found that to be the case? Maybe locally owned pet stores?

Depending on where you are, those chips are of value. Anytime you can bag and sell to a niche market, look at the dollars and cents. I run a large Organic Recycling business in California. I make soil and compost, etc. for wholesale and retail. I am retooling to mill lumber and downsize my operation from 5 f/t employees to just me. Bagging and selling shavings to pet retailers and home owners is a good market.

Horse people love shavings, too. Walnut is not good for horses. Also, some people don't mind chipout (we call it splinters) for bedding, and some people are fussy (they don't touch anything "dusty").

I have 30 yd dumpsters collecting wood and wood byproducts. Often I get a horse person asking if they can leave a trailer at the site to collect the shavings. You can charge them a fee for the material and let them hassle with the removal. But have a backup plan when they break down and can't haul it away immediately. There are good bagging machines that are moderately priced that will fill, compress and seal the bags. Smaller bags sell for more. It's a funny world.

Also, find some landscapers or supply that might be interested in the product. I would make sample bags and put an all inclusive list of whatever could be in the material on the bag and offer it. You might get someone that will take it all, and pay you.

It's a commodity - charge something for it. Ask around about what costs are and be familiar with the local market. If you have a lot of area, you could spend a few dollars and add nitrogen to it and sell it as nitrolized sawdust. Wholesale market is about $20.00/cubic yard in my area. I will soon be running my Logosol and bagging the chips.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor K:
I pay for shavings. The kild dried pine are the most desirable bedding for horses. When it comes to keeping horses bedded, the bigger chips and flakes and occasional chunks will be disregarded. There are certain hardwoods that can kill horses or create severe reactions - that would be a horseowner's only concern.

In MI I paid $200.00 for 18yrds delivered. In PA I have paid anywhere between $45-$120 for the same amount to be delivered. The shavings I have been getting in PA are green. If you decide to offer delivery, it is really important that you keep to a schedule. Having bags available for customers to come pick up from you removes the urgency of keeping delivery dates.