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Hardwood saftey


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Seeking advice on the risks of sanding hardwoods. My personal research on the internet has basically concluded that some hardwood dust can cause irritation and basically wear a dust mask if in doubt. Long sleeves, wrap around goggles, etc. I want to make a handle out of what I suspect is gumwood (rub rail from an old fishing trawler) am I safe to just sand it with a dust mask and maybe a fan blowing the dust away?

Thanks!

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If you are doing a lot of power sanding on wood use a ducted dust collection system or shop vac OUTSIDE as the fines that pass through the duct collector are the real problem. The larger dust that falls to the floor and doesn't float in air is not a problem, unless allergies are involved.

Use of PVC pipe for temporary setups is marginal as a serious static charge can build. That said, I use a 10' stick of PVC as an extension for my shop vac all the time (and get zapped on occasion.) I can clean my house gutters without a ladder!

Phil

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A lot of tropical hardwoods that knifemakers like to use can cause allergic reactions once you become sensitized. Avoiding all dust is healthier!

North American black walnut is another one I know of as I worked with a fellow in a custom wood shop that was very sensitive to it. Sanding it in the far corner of the massive shop building (had a 7 ton wood's moulder in it, gang saw, etc) would cause his nose to start bleeding.

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Ironwolf I'm a bit further north than you I'm in British Columbia! Brrr it's cold up here, lol.

So I set up a shop vac to catch the dust coming off of my sander, and I'm under the impression I won't need a dust mask now? I think it's catching nearly 100% of the dust coming off. Maybe I'm being overly paranoid I heard the dust can be really toxic but the more research I do the less toxic it's sounding. Always better to err(or?) on the side of caution!

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YEP you would be way north LOL :rolleyes: you can cancel my visit then I hate putting chains on lol PS you mind keeping the rain/snow up there Idd like to dry out this summer

you can also use a caged fan and a piece of ducking to pull dust away from you and duct it outside

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Make sure you protect the ol airbags - even if it isn't a hardwood keep it out o' your lungs! Phil's right - a standard dust collector doesn't do much for the real fine stuff so take some extra measures to deal with it.
I use a LOT of IPE and Bankarai in my work - nasty stuff both dust and splinter-wise. The IPE especially creates a real oily talcum like dust that sticks to everything!

As I don't like extra hoses hanging off of my Dynabrades when I sand, I built a down draft table with a separate filter on it and hooked into my dust collection system. Does a real good job of keeping it out of the air and my face but even with that, I still wear a respirator and keep the shop really well ventilated. The cheapo paper masks are all but worthless - use a proper fitting face-mask and filters for the job. It may be uncomfortable but it's worth it.

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Better quality cartridge filter masks are more comfortable than cheaper cartridge filter masks. I have owned a couple, and the more expensive ones are easier to breathe through, even though all had separate exhaust valves.

Remember that you need to be "clean shaved" where the mask rides for them to work properly. Beards are not good filters.

Phil

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You need to remember that trees are just large plants and that some of those trees are in the same family as Poison Ivy and Nightshade.I personally know folks who picked up attractive pieces of tropical wood(like Cocobolo and Mansonia)and ended up in the DR`s office or ER due to breathing problems or severe rashes caused by very little dust.
There is also the problem of becoming sensitized to a particular type of wood.Walnut is one US hardwood known for this but my wife is very sensitive to Red Oak,even the smell of fresh cut will give her sinus headaches.Having been around Mahogany sawdust for years in the boatyards if I now walk into a shop where it`s being worked my nose runs like a leaky faucet.

All this is really secondary to the fact that fine sawdust is known to cause cancer,sinus abnormalities and lung problems.When working with wood I wear either the same respirator I wear for grinding or a supplied air helmet.I also think about the rest of my family and blow off my clothes before leaving the shop and getting into the car and as soon as I get home I change my shirt and pants.When working in the shop I try to wear a pair of coveralls that stays in the shop but frequently forget to put them on till after the work has begun.
I`m sure I`m not the only one who can`t wait to get to work,right? :)

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i didnt know that wood dust was so bad for you i figured just dont breath to mush dust and you would be ok. along these same lines at work we changed our mulch providers and have been spreading red oak mulch and its dry and dusty one of my co workers got a migrane so bad he didnt come in the next day

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  • 8 months later...

Personally I avoid the most hazardous woods... exotic stuff like cocobolo and indeed, all of the rosewood family. Of north american woods walnut is about the worst but has VERY minor toxicity compared to the rosewoods and especially cocobolo. Sassafras can also be bad. I try to limit exposure as much as possible with all woods... just the dust is BAD no matter what it's content and more exposure means higher odds of developing an allergic reaction that can be quite a nuisance or even a very serious limitation.

I have embraced the wisdom of handworking! By riving my wood from the logs I save money and gas that would otherwise be spent on trips to the lumber yards. I also get much nicer wood to work with! I can work the wood green with hand tools avoiding most dusty operations and also (for the most part) eliminating the need for sanding (the WORST dust offender of all). The REAL payoff is in much nicer finished projects but I also benefit from a healthier and FAR more satisfying work strategy!

You have to spend a few years running milling machinery to properly appreciate the deeply satisfying experience of splitting out a few handle blanks and deftly slicing them to shape with swift strokes of the drawknife... piles of shavings gathering around your legs (they make GREAT fire starter BTW). I am including a pic here of a recently forged trowel and osage orange wood handle... nothing special at all about this handle I make ones like it for ALL my tools.

post-5493-0-10978400-1294586134_thumb.jp

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