Introduction: Bio Fuel Briquettes, Compress Paper Pulp and Sawdust Into Fuel Bricks.

Picture of Bio Fuel Briquettes, Compress Paper Pulp and Sawdust Into Fuel Bricks.


To find a use for the large amount of sawdust produced from wood turning sawing firewood etc, the 2 choices  had was to dunp / compost  it or burn it. 

loose sawdust can be burned in a wood burner but can easily kill the fire and cause a lot of smoke. decide to try and compress it back into bricks that would burn better.

I researched the options of either dry compacting and the forces need where just to beyond my capabilities.

My only other option is to compress a wet mixture and use a binder such as news pulp.

I researched on youtube and instructables to see what the other people where using.

I found all the info needed but found some of the method where a bit fiddly for me as i have a few old hand injury's that make fiddly not an option. other option made small briquettes or the process was just to slow for the amount of sawdust i had lying around about 12 fertilizer bags full to be exact.

Ive done nothing new here, just added my 2 cents worth to the mix and try to improve what others have done before to inspire my own effort.  Enjoy. :-)

Thanks for looking and I hope you like my idea

Step 1: The Plan.

Picture of The Plan.

Even a little bit of wood turning creates a large amount of sawdust..

I decided to build a mould  that would be easy to fill and compress but would would produce a larger brick than that I had seen, and have a press that would be faster to operate.

I was lucky that I had the chance to buy a Sealy No2 bench press a few months back and had yet to fin a job for it.  I decided that I could modify the pressto use for this job and more usefull for other jobs.

I decided to use only what I had at hand. this would be a no budget build.

Materials used:
3/4" plywood (I do like the 3/4" plywood)
6" sewer pipe.

Step 2: The Mould.

Picture of The Mould.

The mould is made from a 6" length of sewer pipe cut square on a friends band saw My own saw has only 4" throat.  If have access to  a few friends large saws when I need to do jobs like this.

The pipe was marked with the use of a set square the lines are the ruler blades width apart and actually worked out very evenly spaced, 5 hole where drilled at 1" intervals along each line. I used a 6mm drill bit in the pillar drill to do this, the sewer pipe is quite easy to drill.

I used the wood back plate on my wood lathe and turned 2 disks of 3/4" plywood.

One was the same as the outer diameter of the pipe with a 6mm recess cut on one edge a snug fit for the inner diameter of the pipe, this would be the base plate.

the other would be 1-2mm smaller than the inner diameter of the pipe, this would be the plunger.

That is the mould taken care of.

Step 3: Update, Better Bottom Plate

Picture of Update, Better Bottom Plate

I found that the small recess I had used on the first bottom plate was starting to get built up with loose fibers of the pulp and this had lead to the ass falling out of the mould and causing a right mess and some strong language.

to solve this I made a disk with a deeper recess and a wider lip so the pipe  now fits on easier and will not be able to slip off

The new disk is again made of 3/4" plywood but is recessed about 8-10 mm and is a slightly loose fit for the pipe.

Step 4: The Press

Picture of The Press

I only had to add a flat steel plate to the press, was going to do that anyway to make it more usefull than before.

A friend said he would profile me some plate steel disks for this and another lathe project. a load spreading plate on the the press would make the press more usable.

Other than add an old bike crossbar to the arm of the press to give it more leverage and get more water out with less effort.

The press is rated at about 2 tonne of pressure, the longer arm increased this so much that the solid steel arm started it bend  from me pressing hay to hard, I just rotated the arm 180* and use to much force to bend it straight again.  I now know the right amount of force to use not to bend the arm again.

Step 5: The Mixture and Mixer

Picture of The Mixture and Mixer

The mixture is 2 parts sawdust to 1 part paper pulp.

Some people soak shredded newspapers over night and then mix then. some say to soak the sawdust over night, here is mu recipe.

If the heating has been on and I have hot water to spare, I use warm water to soak the paper after only about 5mins you can use the paint mixer and it will be in pulp in a few minutes, if i have cold water about an 30 mins will have it softened up and will not take long to be in pulp.

For course sawdust I just add it to the paper pulp and turn the hose into the mix until it looks about right, it should be very a very sloppy slurry so the mixer can do its stuff.

I find that very fine dust is best mixed with the pulp and then left to soaked over night.

I use builder's plaster trugs to do my mixing as they are flexible and large enough to mix a decent sized batch.

I am going to try an electric cement mixer to do the mixing which should make the job much faster with less effort.

UPDATE:  I have found that for a fine sawdust you may need to add more paper pulp to the mix or the bricks will have a tendency to crumble.

Step 6: The Method

Picture of The Method

First place the mould on the the base plate firmly and fill with the pulp mixture.

level of the mixture and place the plunger on the top and gently press down.

Now carefully place the mould in place on the press without letting the base plate falling out.

And the load spreading plate if it not fixed to the press, i used on load plate at first and the plywood finally split in 2.

Press the mould until water stop running out, if you you slack of and press again only foam should press out, its just about right at this stage.

To remove the brick from the press I turn it upside down and use the rack in the press in the
up position to tap the plunger out and this forces out the brick.

Once you get the hang of things you can press a brick about ever 30 - 40 seconds, a full trug makes on average about 15 bricks.

The press needs to be clamped down to the work surface , I have the press mounted to a work bench, the bench is weighed down with 4  12" concrete blocks.  the work bench is not coping well with the pressure and is now just about goosed, i need to build a very solid bench just for the press.

Step 7: And Here's Some We Made Earlier.

Picture of And Here's Some We Made Earlier.

The pressed bricks are stacked to dry outside for a few days, if it looks like rain I cover the pile with a tarpaulin. once they are starting to dry out well I re stack then in a shed with a good air flow where they can take their time to dry out fully.

Once fully dry I move them into storage.

I have about 400 + made, and have still not used all the sawdust.

My stove is out of action and I have not got a chance to to see how well they burn, they are claimed to have the same btu value as coal but I cant say anything yet.

I did just set a dry one alight outside to see if it burned but threw it into the mixing bucket again when it started to get out of control.

I have a rough plan as how to build a box section press that would be suitable if you don't have a workshop press, if you would like to see my idea just ask and I can sketch it up and post it.

Well that my 2 cents worth on the subject.

Comments and ideas welcome.

Thanks for looking.


GarethH3 (author)2017-10-29

Hi Dr Qui,

I've been following the block making principles for a while now, so i bought a £80 twig shredder for the garden since I have so much small wood to shred every year, which in previous years i have merely burned to ash in the garden. I have three purposes for the shredded wood. 1) compost ingredient, about 1/3 of compost. 2) path lay instead of gravel, the latter becoming somewhat intrusive.

3) biofuel.

I have invested in a fire hod since putting "shred" on the household hearth fire is a bit messy, but would it be worthwhile to make blocks to give the matter more solidity or do you think making the fire with hod is sufficient. I wouldnt be adding water to shredded wood though... would I?

I've got a Stainless steel hand driven cider press which presses the juice out of apples to make what is called the "Cake" (more compost) with the juice extracted, and it also make the Cheese by extracting the Whey water from the curdled milk. More you press out the water the harder the cheese.

Do you think it would be too laborious to do this without a machine driven apparatus for fire blocks?

What I can do is estimate my Kw value from all the wood that i do shred and use on the fire before deciding to invest in a machine driven Cider press of similar make at a later date.

I only use the cider press a couple of days a year, I thought I would use it for more cheese making but hours in the day, and hygiene, make it impractical for my own use.

I certainly have 200 blocks of your size there of potential chippings to get on with at the moment, but will be a long job both the shredding and the blockmaking, but worthwhile in energy saving for this 1/3 acre, 1/6ha, which has many trees and shrubs. Happy block making!! Gar

gasson (author)2016-04-20

Thank you its really helpful, i want to do lots,but dont have the money to buy a mechanical one plus just a million reasons why. all said and done i must start somewhere and your plan is perfect!!

Mandulo (author)2016-03-21

I'll love to try it but can it be done at a bigger scale to create employment for community an keeping the environment clean buy using the garbage to produced something useful

JohnC29 (author)2015-02-10

what about using a wood splitter/ hydraulic as a base for the press??

HilaryS5 (author)JohnC292016-02-02

briquettemachine (author)2015-03-20

it is true that the briquetting system needs high pressure to agglomerate the powders & fines. To know more about briquetter.

check this two tonne baby out

savingthepennies (author)2015-10-30

Love the instructable. Have softwood chips with horse manure composting on heap plus small quantity of household paper and cardboard plus some woodshavings (hardwood). Any ideas about making briquettes and what proportion to start with.

They seem to use animal waste in some parts of the world.

we have sold one to a larma farm!

HilaryS5 (author)2016-02-02

Street-Wise Irish (author)2015-12-29

Could you please give a video of these being burned ?

MatthewW11 (author)2015-04-01

Business Opportunity: Industrial paper dust is a problem for lots of factories. They have to use a dust collector to keep it out of the air and then typically bail it, but it's too fine for recyclers to be interested in. The bales usually end up in a landfill. If anyone's interested in making lots of these, the dust should be a steady, free source that would cut out the shredding/blending work. If you're in the Birmingham, Alabama area, and would like some to try, just reply to my post.

smarico58 (author)MatthewW112015-08-13

Hey Matt!

I do not live in that area, but think that that would be a really interesting way to reduce and reuse some waste. What kinds of factories should I ask about taking their paper dust off their hands? Or is more of a common problem that I could just ask around and likely find some people willing to help me out?



jam1701 (author)MatthewW112015-04-09

Matthew, I think that's a great idea. could you msg me on kik?

KenW5 (author)2015-05-31

Hello! My dad used to use all natural hardwood lumps for bbq, but I thought that many trees were cut down when he bought the package, so I decided to give the biomass briquettes a try! Now we use half biomass and half lumps.

For people who has no sawdust, it is fine to use 100% paper!

67spyder (author)2010-07-17

I am envisioning a centerfuge that would have several swinging cups with holes in them. If all the cups are the same size you should be able to fill them quickly to the top and have the whole aparatus balance. It may take a few minutes to spin the water out but you could do something else while it is spinning, like more wood turning ;-) It would not need to spin very fast as long as you are willing to let it spin for a while, a washing machine only sipns about 100 rpm. If it takes 5 minutes but produces 10 bricks then you are still faster.

Dr Qui (author)67spyder2010-07-17

Over complicated, sounds unbelievably dangerous, and would not produce a decent brick but just a loose lump of pulp.

Most engineers work on the KISS system - Keep It Simple, stupid.
Your idea would require way to much precision engineering would require perfect balance and would be way slower than using a press.

A centrifuge would only remove the water from the pulp, it would not apply the pressure needed to compress the brick and lock the fibers of the pulp together.

swimspud (author)Dr Qui2015-01-21

I live by the KISS method to engineering!

flavio.mery (author)2014-11-26

Did you try the cement mixer? Did it work?

flavio.mery (author)2014-11-25

Did you try the cement mixer? Did it work?

shaddyx (author)2014-08-19

This kind of home making winter fuel is a cool stuff. I have also at home some simple press, similar to yours - but I use a car jack. Secondly, for faster dry you should implement a (again) simple "thing". Insert a pipe inside the mold and drill a hole on the top cover. The briquettes will get a hole in the center so can dry faster also can burn more efficiently. Second, if you wish to get more dense briquettes and get rid off the crumbling issue add some flour in the mix. Do not use a lot of it because the drilled holes in the mold will clog. I use half kilogram flour for 50 kg mix. The rate is similar to yours, - 3 units of pulp and 4 units of sawdust. Water as like to get the mix in proper "shape". The mix should be used up to 15 minutes after adding the flour. For me the 50 kg mix is briquetted in some 10 minutes. And yeah - the pressed out water goes again inside the tank for paper soaking. As calculated there can be used (recycled) around 70% of the water.

Again, nice job - keep up rollin'

josephine.moma (author)2014-08-13

As hubby has a wood and metal working shop there's always plenty enough saw dust to go around...too much. Seeing as how this burns practically smoke free, going to try this certain type of grass I saw at a model forest that was labeled as bio fuel quality, grow some and add it to the mix and see what happens. Thanks for the great idea!!! :)

SLEDHEDONE (author)2014-04-27

what about adding used coffee grounds to the mix?

dan3008 (author)SLEDHEDONE2014-06-03

should work quite well, I've been making coffee logs of late, but 1 log takes about 6 weeks of coffee to make... going to try a new mix soon, and this has given me many ideas :)

johnswimcat (author)2013-11-23

Hi, very interesting. I have a lot of tree trimmings so have designed a press to make several (9,16 or 25) briquettes at a time fairly quickly. The mix will be comprised of wood chip, shredded paper and cardboard, water and anything else (within reason of course!) that will burn. The pressing force will be applied from above by a ten tonne bottle jack within a strong steel frame (two jacks could be used next to each other) and after pressing the mould assembly will slide across to clear the pressing plate and allow the briquettes to be ejected downwards onto a chicken wire drying rack. I expect to make the press next spring after finishing my new secondary combustion stove and make the briquettes in the summer so they will be ready for next winter. I will post drawings and photos in due course. Good wishes, John

raviolikid (author)2013-06-05

Interesting project! Thanks for sharing it.

lukeyj15 (author)2011-01-19

I was thinking that instead of making bricks with the sawdust, would it work if I injected the sawdust into an air stream and burnt it that way. I have tried burning sawdust myself and it tends to form a smoldering pile on the bottom of my fireplace. I think it does that when it has insufficient air to burn with. Due to the nature of sawdust, it tends to smother itself. But I remember seeing an instructable where you can breathe fire by using cornflour or some other fine powder by making a cloud of the stuff and igniting it. Similar thing with canola oil. By itself, a puddle of oil won't ignite, but when it is sucked through a wick it burns.

Dr Qui (author)lukeyj152011-05-21

A high pressure air stream capable of moving sawdust , sawdust and fire would be the 3 key ingredients for a dust explosion.

lukeyj15 (author)Dr Qui2011-05-23

Yes, but so would gas coming out of a stove. The key is control. Only having a small amount of sawdust burning at a time. Same with a car. It has thousands of explosions a minute in the cylinders, but they are controlled.

_soapy_ (author)lukeyj152013-06-01

However, the day it went wrong, much like a gas stove, might well be your last. Is it worth it when there is no gain?

thepelton (author)lukeyj152011-05-06

My brother dropped a loose handful of sawdust on a lit match, and it flared up. If you could continuously drop loose sawdust onto a heat source it would burn more efficiently than piling it up. The stuff at the bottom tends to get smothered by the surrounding burnt ash.

Dr Qui (author)lukeyj152011-01-23

When you compress the sawdust into briquettes they burn much better than loose sawdust, they don't smother themselves. 

I burned a few dozen over the Christmas holidays and they burn very well, they light quickly and burn like charcoal.

jsy982002 (author)2011-11-28


I saw your post regarding the conversion of sawdust to solid blocks.

I would just like to ask how much is the difference of the compressed saw dust to
solid blocks of wood in term of Density and heat output.

I am planning to use this as firewood in my Boiler, do you think it would be advisable?


-Justin Sy

Dr Qui (author)jsy9820022011-11-28

I honestly don't know, I did this method because I had an excess of sawdust and waste paper, the wet compressed blocks are the easiest for me to male as dry compressed blocks or pellets require a serious amount of hydraulic pressure and the sawdust need to be ground to a uniform consistency.

There is a Who its made that shows how the compressed

Solid wood burns well on its own i tend to keep this briquets for use in the open fire in my house as it only takes a few minutes to get a fire going.

I burn scrap wood in the wood stove in my shed but it has no boiler.

I would suggest that you contact the boiler manufacturer as some woods like pine can cause a build up of resin in the flue that can build up and block the flue, my first flue made was 3" (also poorly made) and blocked up with resin, I have i replace with 5" now which draws much better and has less chance of getting blocked.

jsy982002 (author)Dr Qui2011-12-04

Hi sir,

Sorry for the extremely delayed response.

I have been busy with an upcoming conference and was not able to attend to your reply.

Thanks for the detailed response. There is actually no problem regarding the blockage of the flue as I am already using actual firewood of the same wood specie to run my boiler.

I am just trying to find some use for the sawdust (same wood specie) produced in our sawmill.

Just in terms of density, can you still remember if the wet compresses briquettes were comparable or even close to actual firewood?

Thank you and sorry for the trouble.


Dr Qui (author)jsy9820022011-12-10


I did this as a way to get sawdust to burn without dampening the fire out as it usually does if thrown on loose.  I never put any thought into the fuel value of the end product,

I'm happy that they burn but the general view is that they have the same fuel value as coal, but i cant vouch for this as i would not know how you would go about a comparison test.

A friend of mine uses the commercial compressed bricks and they seem to burn pound for pound at the same rate a scrap timber that i have given him

Depends on how you define comparable, the answer is that they burn well in mu opinion 4-6 of them placed in an open fireplace (all i have used them for) either started with a fire lighter or a spray of wd40 or other oil or anything flammable if im lazy or want heat now, they light quite quickly and look as if they are going to burn out very quickly.

They actually turn to red hot coals and sit in the hearth glowing red for quite some time, once the fire is light 2-3 are added every 30 mins or so as needed, i find that about 10-12 will burn for an evening, i have only used them for when we have visitors and want a bit of fire going just for sake of it.

If you have a commercial sawmill you should look into building a sawdust compressor, a couple of places in my area that ued to give sawdust to any farmers that would come take it away have now built or installed brick compressors to make a salable product out of their waste, they sell well and are a good earner if you have a constant supply.

this seems to be a piton based thing, a hopper with auger that feeds small amounts of dust into a chamber with a piston that reciprocates and compresses the dust into a tube, the tube seems to need to be about 20feet long or so < i think this is so the back pressure can build up to the amount needed to compress the bricks. heavy flywheels are needed to keep the momentum up on the piston.  this method seems to be the simplest method for the diy builder, if i had a constant supply of sawdust i would build something like this.

I saw an episode of how its made that showed the compressed brick method for those fancy logs that city folk burn in their trendy wood stoves. The dusts need to be very uniform and to use anything rather than saw dust Ie bark wood shavings and cuttings required a heavy duty shredder to grind the dust uniform.

You can also have a hydraulic machine check youtube for these as i cant seem to find what i found there. the hydraulic method is more complicated and slower.

In summary for small amounts ie 20kg or so of dust every once in a while i would go with the wet brick method. for a constant supply from a saw mill i would put the effort in and build a piston based machine as it would give you a additional income from the waste and in theory should pay for its self in next to no time. 

over here a 10kg bag of compressed logs are around £5  and seem to be sold in every garage or convenience store i walk into,

hope this helps.


nickmccullough (author)2011-05-09

Have you ever thought about adding grass clippings to the mixture? Ive got a lotta sawdust, but really, i think that this could be very benificial to me, so I wouldnt be able to keep up the sawdust output with how much i would burn, so i would have a continuous supply of more than enough grass clippings every week... you think it would work?

Dr Qui (author)nickmccullough2011-05-21

Problem is trying to get the grass clipping 100% dried out as they tend to start composting if there is any moisture left in them.

nickmccullough (author)Dr Qui2011-05-22

hmmmm, ok, well i think sometime ill give it a try, with some 1" brickets since those should dry out faster so they wont have as much time to compost

lennyb (author)2010-07-18

good instructable. i wonder could you put them in a charcoal barrel and char them to make cooking briquets? ive seen briquets with that shape for sale at the dollar store for a buck each. i doubt very much if they used fine hardwood for that.

Dr Qui (author)lennyb2011-05-21

I have since burned a few of the bricks, as soon as the catch fire they almost instantly turn to a block of red hot smoldering ash that slowly burns away.

I recon that they would be perfect for use on a BBQ and i hope to try this out sometime.

djsc (author)lennyb2011-05-05

I think they will tend to insulate their own centres from the heat, nice thin pieces might be good for biochar, and some uncharred briquettes could provide at least half the heat source to do the charcoalling. worth a try.

Dr Qui (author)lennyb2010-07-19


From what I have see on youtube etc they are OK to use on a BBQ as is

I have not burned any yet in my stove as its to warm to need to light it.

I have burned one to see what it was like and it looked similar to that of a BBQ coal.

thepelton (author)2011-02-24

I wasn't thinking of burning them, but inoculating them with edible cellulose eating mushrooms, such as Pleurotis Ostreatus. I wonder how well that would work?

Dr Qui (author)thepelton2011-02-24

I dunno to be honest, i recon there would be to much bad bacteria in the sawdust that you may have difficulty in getting the mushrooms started.

A few years ago a friend was selling mushroom and truffle kits in his shop, they all used boiled rice as the food source and demanded almost sterile conditions.

From what I know re mushroom houses and how they work there is a web like nerve system that is about 2 - 3" under the surface of mushroom compost, it almost like like a buried spider web that is the thing that acutely gets the mushrooms to grow. To farm mushrooms you have to emulate and maintain perfect growing condition all the time.

Some mushrooms and truffles have a symbiotic relationship with certain genus of trees. Can't remember what show this was on , probably BBC's life on earth with David Attenbourough.

Being neither plant nor animal mushrooms are literally mindblowing if you start to investigate how they work.

capt.tagon (author)Dr Qui2011-04-03

Truffles live under Oaks and Pines in the US Pacific Northwest.

thepelton (author)capt.tagon2011-05-06

I understand the concept of symbiosis. There are species of mushrooms that only grow near aspens in Colorado, and black morels are always found near a species of orchid.

kretzlord (author)thepelton2011-05-05

to get sterile conditions, take the final product and stick it in a pressure cooker for about 20 minutes, should be fine after that.

djsc (author)2010-07-15

I like the idea of a multipurpose press; I have a bottle jack that I am using to build a cider press, never though of using it to compress paper briquettes.

Dr Qui (author)djsc2010-07-17

I have seen some other videos of guy using bottle jacks and scissor jacks, these work fine but I just found them to be to slow to allow you to work at a decent production speed for large volumes of material.

The bottle jack will be prefect for your cider press because you want more pressure to get as much juice out as possible.

I would like to see you cider press design as I have a small orchard that produces more than we can eat or give away and i have often thought of making juice or cider.


About This Instructable



Bio: Learning to live with Fibromyalgia brought on be numerous injuries some old some quite recent. Currently under no fixed agenda, just going with the flow ... More »
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