View Full Version : Woodturning longevity

26th Dec 2009, 11:09 AM
I have had some nice blackwood sitting in a corner ready to use but last time I turned it, I remember coughing and feeling a bit unwell. I am going to have another go at it but I wondered about what would be the best way to counter some of the hazards of woodturning. I know some woodturners who have been turning for decades that have regular coughs but they just dismiss it as a minor inconvenience for doing something that they love. I have adequate dust extraction at the lathe but need to go a little further to ensure that I can turn wood for years to come. It would seem to me that it's the dust that is the big problem so you turn your object and then the extractor comes on when you're ready to sand. Even with the extractor, it's probably not enough for me, so I need something that is quick to put on (when it's time to sand) and take off, is reasonably comfortable and hopefully (but perhaps unrealistic) not too expensive. Any ideas?

26th Dec 2009, 11:14 AM
Yes, dust can be pretty toxic. And you can build up sensitivity over time; getting that with Blackwood is not uncommon.

Many folk speak well of the Dust-be-gone mask Tiger.

Fine particles will float around for hours in the shed so it's either the mask on full-time or some system for removing or filtering all the air in short order.

Sawdust Maker
26th Dec 2009, 12:21 PM
Dust-bee-gone masks seem to be ok - see carrolls for one

I'm saving up for one of these (http://www.microclene.com.au/product.mc.1000.asp) (and am hoping the price comes down)

26th Dec 2009, 12:34 PM
Yes, good move Nick.

Frankly I think you need all three: a dusty for sucking up as much as possible at source, an air scrubber like that one and a face mask.

Wood dust is a carcinogen as well as causing allergic reactions in some.

26th Dec 2009, 01:18 PM
I need something that is quick to put on (when it's time to sand) and take off, is reasonably comfortable and hopefully (but perhaps unrealistic) not too expensive. Any ideas?

I have a 12" fan beside me at head height and that blows most of the chips to the side and away from my face.

Maybe a 12" pedestal fan placed behind you will help to blow the dust away from you and into the extractor.


26th Dec 2009, 02:20 PM
G`day I think the Microclene or something similer is the way to go.

26th Dec 2009, 08:16 PM
I don't think there is any single cure. Not 100% anyway.

But I have noticed a marked improvement this week with the swampy on full and plenty of water in the air. Much better than a dusty and mask.

Not sure that will work over the winter though...... :rolleyes::rolleyes:

EX's Timber
26th Dec 2009, 08:22 PM
From your post, it sounds like you're only running the dusty when sanding, if this is correct, Turn it on before you start turning and leave it running the entire time and for a little while after you've finished and if possible have the dusty outside or exhausting outdoors.

26th Dec 2009, 09:35 PM
Do I recall that Blackwood is not used in schools anymore because of something called blackwood itch or cough or some such.

27th Dec 2009, 06:20 PM
Thanks for the replies. The Dust-be-gone mask sounds like a good idea, anyone here used one?

I tend to run the dust extractor only when sanding as it's located right up against a fence and I don't wish to bother the neighbours with the noise.

Am considering the Triton respirator but haven't seen many woodturners use or endorse it.

27th Dec 2009, 06:34 PM
A simple method of improving your air quality is to set up cross flow ventilation. Either naturally by taking advantage of the prevailing breeze etc or extraction fans at either end. It does not have to be expensive Bunnies were selling them for $20 or so, two or thee at each end of the shed etc would make a big difference to the air quality and they do not make much noise so neighbours aren't an issue.

27th Dec 2009, 09:42 PM
I agree with pretty much all of the above.
I have an air cleaner that is switched on when I enter the shop and continues running when I've finished, a dust extractor with a pleated filter and a big gulp hood the is used all the time when turning or power carving and a respirator that is only taken of if I plan on leaving the shop immediately.
I have been using a 3M 7500 series respirator for the last three years and will definitely be buying the same when it's time to replace it.
The dust-be-gones have their followers but they are not NIOSH approved and are only effective down to 3 microns (according to their website). P2 filters will filter out %95 of particles 0.3 microns and larger and it's the smaller particles that are the dangerous ones.

28th Dec 2009, 12:39 PM
Yep, I agree with the above.
I have a Dust-be-Gone and for the most it is pretty good, not much chop for sanding dusty timber like redgum ( I still get a red moustache no matter how firm the fit) but it is better that any other passive mask I have tried and it is washable/re-usable so the initial high price ($70 ish) is recouped eventually. I think a coulple of "el cheapo" pedestal fans in suitable places will do wonders as well, if you can, ceiling or wall exhaust fans can assist - leave them running all the time.

28th Dec 2009, 02:20 PM
Here is a list of toxic woods:

Toxic Woods List (http://www.mimf.com/archives/toxic.htm)

My lathe is about 2 meters at a 45 degree angle from my shed door. I have a 500mm box fan hung in the top of the doorway that I run blowing out when I am turning or sanding. The air flow is from my left rear and across the headstock and out.

I also use a well used linen dinner napkin folded corner to corner and tied over my nose and mouth bandit style. I have a bushy beard, so the cloth works as well or better than a rubber mask.

These two things have almost completely stopped the stuffy, runny, nose and cough. I found a medical ventilator used for sleep apnea in a junk store for less than $10.

I plan to make a supplied air mask using a face shield and about 4 meters of light plastic over spiral hose. I will mount the ventilator upwind of the lathe and put a HEPA filter from an vacuum on the intake.

A small squirrel cage fan would do as well to supply air.

Look at catalogs to see how the and then prowl around flea markets, yard sales, and junk stores. I am amazed at what can be recycled into useful things at great savings in cost.

joe greiner
28th Dec 2009, 09:47 PM
All of the above, but strenuous exercise can help, too. As well as reducing weight.

George Burns (lived to about 100, IIRC) used to 'joke' about a doctor asking him, "Do you ever cough?"
Burns replied, "Yes."
Doctor asked, "Do you ever cough anything up?"
Burns: "Sure; that's what coughing is for."


29th Dec 2009, 09:41 AM
Without detracting from any of the reply posts, I have found that a good dust extractor strategically placed over the piece to be a terrrific help as long as you have a sound mask system. About 12 months ago I bought a Triton respirator (on E Bay) and it is a godsend. It lasts about 4 hours without recharging and importantly it not only keeps out the dust but also you can wear your glasses without any fogging which I have found to be a problem when using the face shield with a mask. Needless to say I dont use it all the time but I do always use it when sanding giving the toxicity of most species. I dont know what others have experienced with respirators but they are not too cumbersome - the battery is simply hooked to a belt (supplied) around your waist. Costs if you can get one are about $200 - but worth it. Hope this helps - Drillit.

Manuka Jock
29th Dec 2009, 05:08 PM
Here is a list of toxic woods:

Toxic Woods List (http://www.mimf.com/archives/toxic.htm)

There is a list of some toxic woods , in some parts of the world :rolleyes:

29th Dec 2009, 08:59 PM
I read with interest the list of "toxic" woods. A lot of problem Australian timbers are not listed.
Black Bean (Castanospermum australe), can and does cause sneezing and recently caused me two nose bleeds.
Red siris, Mackay Cedar, Acacia Cedar (Albizia Toona) will also cause sneezing.
Northern Silky Oak, Bull Oak (Cardwellius Sublimus) If I get splinters from this, they will fester within two hours.
Who knows what the dust will do in your lungs.

woodwork wally
31st Dec 2009, 11:58 AM
gidday tigre I am using a triton and it is great especially on blackwood and cyprus pine etc but also use the extractor as much as possible The fan across your face is a good idea and when it comes to health do something to quieten the extraction fan cos blackwood in its various forms is a TOXIN not to be taken internally . it can even cause rashes on sensitive skin and flairing of exma . a beautifull wood & once sealed quite safe cheers ww.wallt
Am considering the Triton respirator but haven't seen many woodturners use or endorse it.[/QUOTE]

Sawdust Maker
31st Dec 2009, 01:52 PM
I've a Triton respirator - I generally don't use it for turning - The adjustment knob at the back annoys me if used for any length of time.

I tend to use it for routing - face shield, air and earmufs in one :2tsup:

1st Jan 2010, 02:19 AM
Ok, what's a "swampy" please. Still working on vocabulary.

1st Jan 2010, 02:59 AM
Swampy = Air cooler. It operates by forcing air through weted pads (of various materials) and is usually sited on the house roof. It is an alternative to refrigerated air-conditioning,, and is not overly efficient on very humid days.


1st Jan 2010, 04:09 AM
Aha, an evaporative cooler. Absorbs 1,000 Btu per pound of water evaporated (IIRC). Thanks Soth.

joe greiner
1st Jan 2010, 09:26 PM
AKA "Swamp Cooler" in southern California.