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Working with English Yew

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Riot van

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I'm quite new to woodworking but I'm wanting to make coffee tables, cabinets and coasters with the goal to sell at Boot sales and craft fairs etc.

Some of the wood available locally is Yew I'm concerned having read this is toxic. I plan to seal all my projects with gloss epoxy resin but should I still avoid this type of wood? I don't plan to make any cups, bowels or food related stuff just tables, shelves and coasters

In addition what precautions should I take whilst cutting and sanding wood in general? Are basic disposable dust masks OK? I never realised before that wood dust could be dangerous. :shock: my uncles been a pro joiner for decades an I've never seen him use a mask

If I used a vacuum to collect all the wood dust from my garage how would I dispose of it? Should it be sent to specific waste centers similar to asbestos Or am overreacting?
 

MikeG.

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Yew is an irritant, not a poison (but don't actually eat it, will you), and yes, you should be careful with the dust when working with it. However, the finished articles are perfectly safe...no need t o encase them in plastic which would rather spoil the beauty of the wood.
 

Trevanion

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Riot van":2b8us2uf said:
Or am overreacting?
A little.

Make every effort to cut down on dust at the source, whether that be sanding, sawing or any other operation which creates dust. Dust masks are a "last resort" piece of equipment compared with other dust reduction methods, but they still should be worn. Invest in a good quality half mask such as the Elipse P3 or the 3M 7500 rather than paper masks, they are 100x better at keeping dust out properly.

Yew is toxic to a degree, some people have different reactions to it which can be sometimes severe. I've never personally had any reaction to working with it but some people will get very nasty rashes, coughing fits, sore eyes, and some other effects, there are a few other timbers that can do this also such as Iroko or some Rosewoods which the reactions can even become worse the more you're exposed to the dust, these are called "sensitiser woods". With sensitiser woods the more you're exposed to them the worse your reactions will get, this also may extend into dust from other timbers that you never had a reaction with before and it has stopped people from doing their line of work because they simply cannot do it anymore because of coughing fits or rashes when they come into contact with the dust. I don't believe Yew is a sensitiser wood, so long as you wear a good mask while working with it and you don't get rashes from it you should be OK to work with it, if you begin getting rashes it's probably best to stop working with it.

As Mike said, once the Yew is sealed it's completely fine to handle and use day-to-day.

Check with your local recycling centre if they accept wood shavings in either the wood disposal or garden waste areas.
 

Yojevol

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Just a warning on the practicalities of working with yew. It can be very frustrating due to splitting but if you can accept this it can add character to the item. It can be very bitty leading to a large amount of wastage. Planing can be difficult as the grain is often all over the place. However it can be sanded to a beautiful finish with just a wax polish on completion.
Brian
 

marcros

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I do like yew, but it isn't a timber that I imagine appealing to many people. If you are making things to sell rather than making things to order, I would go with something more subtle, and easier to work with. By that I mean that if you were to use oak, you don't need to deal with bark inclusions, gaps, odd shapes, trying to join boards of different coloured timber etc. With oak, beech, ash etc you can usually get nice wide boards that you can join fairly easily and that don't stand out a mile when you do so.
 

Riot van

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Thanks for the advice I'm not sure if it's seasoned or not but my local supplier has lots of different slabs in so I can always ask for another wood.

My aim is to Make river tables, this is basically multiple oddly shaped bits of Wood with coloured resin filling the gaps between them. The more oddly shaped the bits the more interesting the patterns.
 

profchris

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I had to give up working yew. The first few times I had mild skin itching, and then a little wheezing, and finally a trip to A&E with breathing problems. But I know others who dont suffer at all.

So keep dust down, and if you find it mildly irritating then move to another wood and give up yew. I have no problems with most other species.
 

MikeG.

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You're new to woodworking, but taking on the task of making river tables for sale? Well, the very best of luck to you. I hope you don't let too many clients down.
 

woodbloke66

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Yew is great stuff but will warp, split and crack at the drop of the proverbial chapeau. It needs very careful, slow seasoning and you're lucky you may find yourself with a quantity of prime timber...but you need to get lucky! Only this afternoon I was contemplating sawing up a small log in the round, (sawn about five years ago) to make a box, but then I remembered it was in an outside shed and probably had a moisture content of around 20%. Bringing it into a warmIsh workshop and converting on the bandsaw would almost instantly cause it to crack - Rob
 

Riot van

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MikeG.":3aqtv9x4 said:
You're new to woodworking, but taking on the task of making river tables for sale? Well, the very best of luck to you. I hope you don't let too many clients down.
I don't have any clients I'm just going to have a go at it until my results are good and then try sell them at Boot sales and summer craft fairs. I've researched a lot into every step of the build process and have all the tools required.

I'd love to think in a few years I could be good enough to have clients placing orders but right now I'm just starting out.
 

worn thumbs

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While we have toxicity as a subject, are you really comfortable with using epoxy as a finish? It isn't hugely toxic but anything less than great care when handling it can lead to sensitisation affecting the user.It never goes away and can manifest itself in a number of ways.Once completely cured it is pretty inert.
 

Trevanion

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If you go by the HSE Toxic Woods info sheet it seems most domestic timbers pose some kind of threat:


 

Riot van

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worn thumbs":1p0eq8t1 said:
While we have toxicity as a subject, are you really comfortable with using epoxy as a finish? It isn't hugely toxic but anything less than great care when handling it can lead to sensitisation affecting the user.It never goes away and can manifest itself in a number of ways.Once completely cured it is pretty inert.
I'm comfortable using it. I use my workshop as a paint stripping/prepping and spray booth quite often so I have all the usual PPE and don't mind using chemicals.

I've heard mixed opinions while looking into resin, some wear no PPE and others use gloves, mask, aprons etc. I usually lean more toward better safe than sorry when it comes to PPE I don't care if some think that's "p#ssy" as some people feel about taking precaution
 

Trainee neophyte

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Trevanion":264ww4z4 said:
If you go by the HSE Toxic Woods info sheet it seems most domestic timbers pose some kind of threat:


That's it! I'm taking up mine clearance in Angola as a hobby - much safer than this woodworking lark!
 

MikeG.

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Riot van":152pfqkv said:
........I've researched a lot into every step of the build process and have all the tools required..........
Yet you missed any research into whether timber for furniture needs to be seasoned or not. :roll:

Were you planning on making your own timber sub-structure, or were you going to use something made of steel?
 

Phil Pascoe

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Riot van":2xa4cp2l said:
...I use my workshop as a paint stripping/prepping and spray booth quite often ...
So you're sanding hard woods, coloured resins etc. AND using the place as a spray both? ................. right .................. :?
 

Riot van

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phil.p":2dpasu08 said:
Riot van":2dpasu08 said:
...I use my workshop as a paint stripping/prepping and spray booth quite often ...
So you're sanding hard woods, coloured resins etc. AND using the place as a spray both? ................. right .................. :?
Did I say that? No that's not what I said. I said I've sprayed stuff in the workshop before, in the past not that I'll be doing it at the same time as this project.

Yes I only have one workshop unfortunately perhaps you own several, one for every project.
 

AndyT

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Back on the question of how to work with Yew, in my limited experience the swirling grain and colours can look fantastic but are difficult to plane smooth.
I got decent results by planing with an old toothing plane, scraping with a bench scraper, then finish sanding with Abranet.
I used tru-oil to finish. On close grained woods like yew it builds to a durable glossy finish quite quickly, I think I only needed two or three coats, wiped on with a rag.
 

marcros

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Manor wood on YouTube is worth watching. He does a lot of river tables, including some with yew.
 
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