Introduction: Fuel Sausages

About: Maker with an obsession for the 8-bit!

Wood burner fuel made from waste sawdust and toilet roll tubes! By making a simple mold, this is a way to squeeze extra use out of waste materials and heat your home!

I'm particularly happy with this 'ible because it felt like the moment I turned from an insane hoarder to a resourceful maker. For years I've been saving up toilet roll tubes, and now....finally....I've found something to do with them!

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Step 1: You Will Need....

For each sausage -

  • Toilet roll tubes
  • Coarse Sawdust

To make the mold -

  • Chunk of softwood
  • Saw
  • Long screws
  • Drill w/ hole cutter
  • Clamp

Please note that you'll want to avoid using sawdust from any woods that have glue in them (mdf/ply/OSB/etc) as they probably give off some nasty fumes when burned. I happened to have collected a bag of sawdust purely from thicknessing hardwoods, and I set this aside for my sausages.

Step 2: Make a Mold

To stop the toilet roll tube from just falling apart when compressing wet sawdust in, I made a mold.

I had a lump of pine from a broken table someone had left in the street, and I cut it up into 7cm squares that would stack up to about 15cm high. These were attached together using glue and some long screws. You can probably skip the glue, but it helped hold the squares together for the beast screws.

Using a 54mm hole cutter (a little bit bigger than the diameter of the tube) I drilled a tunnel out, leaving the last square so it wasn't going all the way through. I saved a couple of the circles that were cut out...more on that later.

Last up is to drill a 10mm hole in the middle the bottom square.

Step 3: Line the Inside of the Mold

Using a knife and ruler I cut a little rectangle out of some thin plastic sheet and curled it around the inside.

Now take one of the disks from when you drilled the tunnel, and push it to the bottom of the mold. I lined the face of my disk with a little plastic, but you'll probably be alright leaving it bare. do the plastic step again, so another bit is curled up inside resting on top of the disk. This will push out with the disk when you need to remove your sausage from the mold.

When you drop a toilet roll tube in, it should be a nice snug fit.

We're now ready for stuffing!

Step 4: Sausage Filling

To fill a sausage it's basically just squashing in as much wet sawdust as I could!

I played around a bit and landed on a ratio of 3 little cups sawdust to 1 little cup water. I'm not sure why, but the water seems to help it bind together under pressure. If anyone has any experience with getting sawdust to bond together in a burnable way please shout. I think i read somewhere that if you add a little flour it helps, but I haven't tried it.

This bit's a little messy so get a tray or something to catch water, and just stuff it in there! Get as much in as poss, then ram it down with another disk, and add more sawdust. When I couldn't push it down by hand any more I pulled a clamp into play and kept adding more, and re-squashing it until it was pretty solid.

I then left it for a few minutes to let as much water to drain out as possible.

Step 5: Remove From Mold and Dry

Remember that 10mm hole in the bottom? Get a bit of 9mm dowel (or something that fits through the hole) and whack it down to force the whole lot out.

If everything's doing its job it should slide out (if a little reluctantly) and the plastic will pull itself off the sausage.

The mold is good to use over and over again, so every now and then I just make a load until I'm bored.

A lot of the water got squeezed out in the stuffing step, but it'll still be a bit soggy. I leave my sausages sitting on a radiator for a good few days, or on a little grill on top of the wood burner (not directly on burner top though). Given enough time they'll dry pretty much anywhere that's a little warm.

Step 6: Burrrrrrn!

After getting the fire started with kindling and a log or two as normal, I just top it up with sausages to keep it going. They hold their shape remarkably well, burn for a surprising long time, and smell nice. In the city where getting hold of fuel for a wood burner can be a little pricey, I've found this is a great way to enjoy a lovely fire frequently without needing a big stash of logs, and making use of stuff I'd just throw away.

If you've got any experience or advice on this sort of thing, or give it a go yourself, please leave a comment!