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Making planes - cautionary tale

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Flartybarty

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As those of you who were kind enough to comment on my previous post know, I have become very interested in making my own metal planes. I've just finished this one (below) which is a sort of short panel plane/long smoother. But what I would like to bring to your attention is the wood I used - which is Bolivian Rosewood. This timber is beautiful, very hard, and TOXIC (at least to me). If any of you are about to do any work with this timber, I urge you to wear a (good) mask. I usually do use a mask when working with any timber but the one I have been using was rather a poor thing and was not man enough for protection with this particular wood. I spent four days coughing my lungs up and trying to breath. Nighttime was even worse. For anyone who already has pulmonary problems, it think it could be quite serious. I have now shelled out enough dosh to buy a much better mask and used it to finish the plane - no problem.

Forgive me for preaching to the choir - I'm sure that most, if not all, are well aware of the problems associated with wood dust, which I believe is now ALL classed as potentially cancerous but I felt bound to bring it to your attention. European timber doesn't seem to be quite so nasty as tropical woods and not all of the latter leave you gasping on the workshop floor, but there are some - as above - which seem to be particularly noxious. I shall continue using such timber but now always with my new superduper dust mask !!

(The adjuster is a modified GTL adjuster from a broken plane - not Norris but close) (And the mouth is a little wider than I wanted - but still works OK).
STA72720.JPG
 

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sunnybob

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I work almost exclusively with hardwoods, and I think the main problem is that hardwood dust is MUCH finer than softwood dust.
People who work a lot with softer woods get a bit casual with dust masks as they can see the dust. At the moment I have a lot of bubinga under process and the red dust is so fine that even after vacuuming the workshop, theres another layer an hour later.
I use masks to FFP3 as a minimum. always.

I would love to go to a full face mask with air blower, but as I spend more than half the year working in 35 -40c its just not feasible to have that lot strapped to my head.
 

AndyT

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It's a warning that bears repeating, even if it risks distracting us from a rather handsome piece of work.

Just to clarify, when the problems arose, what tools had you been using?

Is the issue associated with powered sanding throwing a lot of fine dust into the sir? Could you handsaw and plane the wood ok without a reaction or is just handling freshly cut pieces enough to provoke one?
 

--Tom--

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sunnybob":txkuu92r said:
I would love to go to a full face mask with air blower, but as I spend more than half the year working in 35 -40c its just not feasible to have that lot strapped to my head.
Have you tried one? The one I tried was great in hot weather as it’s like having a fan blow on your face the whole time, very cooling. I’m saving for one of my own, as now I’ve tried it everything else just isn’t as good
 

Trainee neophyte

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sunnybob":1ohl06nq said:
I work almost exclusively with hardwoods, and I think the main problem is that hardwood dust is MUCH finer than softwood dust.
People who work a lot with softer woods get a bit casual with dust masks as they can see the dust. At the moment I have a lot of bubinga under process and the red dust is so fine that even after vacuuming the workshop, theres another layer an hour later.
I use masks to FFP3 as a minimum. always.

I would love to go to a full face mask with air blower, but as I spend more than half the year working in 35 -40c its just not feasible to have that lot strapped to my head.
Silly question, but wouldn't that be quite cooling? I've never used kit like that, but I am imagining a cool, fresh breeze washing over my face.

Given we have (almost) the same climate, I am definitely interested. Your average dust mask in 40 degrees is just nasty - you know it's hot when the breeze from the table saw is a welcome respite. I also use masks for spraying olive trees - fully dressed, hat, gloves, glasses, mask, the full kit and kaboodle, sprinting around spray painting olive trees in desert temperatures. There has to be a better way. I can lose 3 kg in a morning. Can't be healthy.

Edit: Tom says yes! Will investigate further :)
 

M_Chavez

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I think there are two separate issued here. Pao Ferro is very well known for causing allergic reactions, so it looks like you might have an allergy. From memory, it is a strong sensitizer, so will make you develop worse and worse allergies that can spread to other species. If I were you, i'd deep clean the workshop and never touch the stuff again. I'd think of this wood as if it was peanuts and I had a peanut allergy.

Micro dust (that's believed to be cancerogenic in large concentrations) applies to all woods and is a product of fast cutters (table saw, router are the usual offenders, then sanders, planers, etc) - I don't think pao ferro is to blame here - you'll have just as much of the stuff from european woods or softwoods. A large fan blowing out of your workshop door will likely reduce micro particle concentration in short time (according to my Dylos readings, it only takes 2 minutes to blow the dust out of my shed after a table saw or a router operation).

I'm no dust expert though.

Beautiful plane by the way!
 

thetyreman

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out of interest what mask did you use before and what mask have you got now? I have not had good experiences with rosewoods, not as bad as you but I started feeling ill, so just decided to stop working with it and probably won't touch them ever again. I really hope I am not sensitive to purpleheart because I plan on making a plane out of it soon, might upgrade my mask before starting.
 

sunnybob

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I havent been able to try a full face mask. I doubt theres one on the island. :roll:
But I know that wearing a baseball cap overheats my few remaining brain cells.

Another aspect often forgotten is dust falling onto exposed skin; arms and necks and also face. This can cause sensitization and allergic reactions.
One of the GOOD sides of working in my summer temps is I work wearing only swimming shorts, and every time I stop for coffee or food, I take an outdoor shower.
Its incredible how sticky dust and chips are. I can feel the dust on my skin, but just water isnt enough to wash it off. I have to use shower gel and actually rub it onto the wood to make it wash off me.
Come the winter (yes, we DO have winters :shock: ) My long sleeve shirt has to be left in the workshop or put straight in the laundry basket, and then I shower at the end of the working day.
I have watched stone workers blow the dust off themselves with air compressor hoses, maybe thats a way to go if you have the facility to do so.
 

Trainee neophyte

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sunnybob":2zrn5vt6 said:
I havent been able to try a full face mask. I doubt theres one on the island. :roll:
But I know that wearing a baseball cap overheats my few remaining brain cells.

Another aspect often forgotten is dust falling onto exposed skin; arms and necks and also face. This can cause sensitization and allergic reactions.
One of the GOOD sides of working in my summer temps is I work wearing only swimming shorts, and every time I stop for coffee or food, I take an outdoor shower.
Its incredible how sticky dust and chips are. I can feel the dust on my skin, but just water isnt enough to wash it off. I have to use shower gel and actually rub it onto the wood to make it wash off me.
Come the winter (yes, we DO have winters :shock: ) My long sleeve shirt has to be left in the workshop or put straight in the laundry basket, and then I shower at the end of the working day.
I have watched stone workers blow the dust off themselves with air compressor hoses, maybe thats a way to go if you have the facility to do so.
My compressor/air gun is the most used tool in the shop, because I don't have dust extraction. Everything gets blown down, including me, but I appreciate that this just puts it all up in the air to be sucked into lungs instead.

Maybe take up knitting?

Edit: we're getting off topic here, but I have found the solution! Blown, conditioned air, and I bet it keeps the dust off your face, too!!

[youtube]KTD-4C99Z6k[/youtube]
 

CHJ

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Trainee neophyte":2inugu3t said:
My compressor/air gun is the most used tool in the shop, because I don't have dust extraction. Everything gets blown down, including me, but I appreciate that this just puts it all up in the air to be sucked into lungs instead.
About the most dangerous workshop practice you could carry out apart from deliberately cutting off an appendage.

In a comercial environment it would be grounds for instant dismissal, and severe discipline of any supervisors who allowed you to do it.

Air embolisms can kill rapidly, dust on lungs stands a very high chance of crippling you eventually.
 

woodbloke66

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CHJ":2t71x7zx said:
Trainee neophyte":2t71x7zx said:
My compressor/air gun is the most used tool in the shop, because I don't have dust extraction. Everything gets blown down, including me, but I appreciate that this just puts it all up in the air to be sucked into lungs instead.
About the most dangerous workshop practice you could carry out apart from deliberately cutting off an appendage.

In a comercial environment it would be grounds for instant dismissal, and severe discipline of any supervisors who allowed you to do it.

Air embolisms can kill rapidly, dust on lungs stands a very high chance of crippling you eventually.
I'll second that one from Chas. Never, ever use a blower to clean down the 'shop and these days I rarely, if ever use a broom on the floor; instead a floor 'gulper' is used that's connected to the dx system - Rob
 

sunnybob

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Just to clarify my statement about blowing dust off with air, he was working outside, with no possible means of collecting the dust.
I was thinking in terms of us few who live in hot countries, blowing off excess dust OUTSIDE the workshop before entering the house to wash.
Aint no point in blowing dust up off the floor back in yer face, oh no oh no oh no. :roll:
 

Trainee neophyte

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CHJ":2lzalqqi said:
Trainee neophyte":2lzalqqi said:
My compressor/air gun is the most used tool in the shop, because I don't have dust extraction. Everything gets blown down, including me, but I appreciate that this just puts it all up in the air to be sucked into lungs instead.
About the most dangerous workshop practice you could carry out apart from deliberately cutting off an appendage.

In a comercial environment it would be grounds for instant dismissal, and severe discipline of any supervisors who allowed you to do it.

Air embolisms can kill rapidly, dust on lungs stands a very high chance of crippling you eventually.
Gosh! Thank you.

Whilst I did actually did sort of know that, remembering from metalwork class at school that it was bad practice, I have then seen every garage mechanic ever hose himself down t get rid of swarf and gunk. Now you mention the embolism risk, it seems quite obvious. I will stop immediately.

I know about the dust thing - I even wear a dust mask, sometime, but dust extraction doesn't actually help me make anything, unlike a tool, so it is on the list but not at the top.

Amateurs are always dangerous, and farmers are just insane, so an amateur farmer woodworker - it's a wonder I have any fingers at all!

(I just had a quick look for actual cases of death by embolism, and can't find any due to air compressors, but did find an electrician who had an air line put up his bum for a joke (not good, apparently), and two ladies who died after suffering embolisms during sex. Just waiting for HSE to outlaw sex now.)
 

lurker

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HSE only have a remit for safety in the workplace.
So until prostitution is legalised it is unlikely to happen.
 

sunnybob

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It is legalised.
A prostitute is now a sex worker and can claim tax relief on expenses incurred while carrying out his/ her occupation.

But Mr. Neophite... shame on you. You get one set of eyes, and one set of lungs. looking after them should be at the top of the roundtoit list, not at the bottom.
 

Flartybarty

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Well, lots of good info and advice here. The dust I've been suffering is generated principally by my belt sander . I used my table saw and bandsaw only for a few minutes on this particular job but I think it was the sander that kicked up the most dust. The following day I wore the mask when hand sanding but just before I left the shop, I did a little chisel work without it and even that caused a mild, but noticeable, reaction. By comparison, I've spent this afternoon working with green Oak and, by way of an experiment, have only used the mask when sawing. Absolutely no probs. The first mask I wore was one of those cheapo things you buy by the dozen. My new mask is one with two filters and is supposed to be proof against EVERYTHING. Sorry, can't remember the name and I'm too lasy to go and look at the mask. A friend who is a turner, has a full face mask with fan but I can't really justify that sort of expense. After all, I'm just doing what I do for fun, not as a living.

Sunnybob, haven't you been busy ! I also made a rack for a Katana and a Wakizashi (the short sword) but never added the tanto. BTW, the swords are supposed to be placed so that the cutting edge is uppermost and thus doesn't come into contact with anything which might dull it. Yes, I know, they're not 16th century antiques (if only).
STA72723.JPG


Thanks to all who replied to my post, all very informative and also a little scary. I shall be very choosy about which timbers I work with in the future, especially the exotics.
 

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Trainee neophyte

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lurker":19fc92c7 said:
HSE only have a remit for safety in the workplace.
So until prostitution is legalised it is unlikely to happen.
I have no knowledge of whether or not they were ladies of "negotiable affection" or purely friendly. May even have been married, faithful and true. It was a medical study, and they don't give you all the gory details, just the fatal ones.

Surely there is a duty of care, and government need to be involved in all aspects of citizens activities, entirely for their own good,obviously. I blame Brexit - civil service taking their eye of the ball.
 

Trainee neophyte

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sunnybob":2wd0ltd9 said:
It is legalised.
A prostitute is now a sex worker and can claim tax relief on expenses incurred while carrying out his/ her occupation.

But Mr. Neophite... shame on you. You get one set of eyes, and one set of lungs. looking after them should be at the top of the roundtoit list, not at the bottom.
You're right. Already making changes (picked up the air gun yesterday, and put it back down again, unused), and I have an idea about dust extraction - still working on it. I am also smitten with the hat with a fan and cool-block in it - that's going to make a difference.

I am such a beginner, and it shows, sometimes. Still, I'm here to learn, so thanks to all for taking the time.

It rained today! Twice!! First in 4 months - much less dust.
 

D_W

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It's person by person, I guess. I've turned a bunch of pau ferro and (I don't do it any longer, but) walked into the basement bathroom to wash hands or clean my face only to see a dirt trail from cocobolo going right up my nostrils.

I've got asthma and get bronchitis twice a year, and sanding cherry if I do it more than just a little will create a breathing restriction that induces coughing (which begets more breathing restriction).

But no problems from the exotics yet, and these days, I try to carve and scrape whatever I can rather than sand (partially due to health, but also because early use of sandpaper leads to pretty dull looking elements).

Lots of options (but many cost money) to avoid the dust. My father used to make raw materials for my mother to paint and sell. Not tasteful to my eye, but they could make money doing what they were doing. Sanding was a huge part of his assignment and he'd store what he needed to sand and then wait for a nice day and literally sand (power) hundreds of things in the course of a day because he could walk the sander outside, put a fan behind him and blow the dust away into the prevailing winds.

One of the other fellows who ran the craft circuit with my parents was a toy maker. he made almost all of his toys in pine....and then developed a severe sensitivity (like medical attention level) to both touching and breathing (dust) anything pine stock. For a while, he made all of his tools out of maple and walnut, and eventually quit. No sensitivity to anything else, just pine.

If there's a lesson, I guess it's that you may work on something that sends your neighbor to the hospital, no problem. They may do the converse with something else, and then whatever it is you're comfortable with, one day it may light you up, too. It seems clear that limiting inhalation of dust in general is a great idea, and it doesn't have to involve a howling cyclone or a four figure specialized sanding table.
 
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