View Full Version : Rosewood Dangers?

4th Jun 2004, 11:43 AM
Hi Guys,

I picked up a piece of NSW rosewood yesterday. A nice blank for turning, good price, well seasoned etc.

I started roughing it on the lathe about 20 minutes ago. I have never worked with rosewood before. Immediately I noticed super fine dust coming off it, and as it was coming off fast enough to sting my knuckles (first time for that).

I was wearing a face mask, and also had a 4" hose to the DC in front of the piece to syphon off any extra dust. The phone rang and I went inside to grab it, and as i was talking I decided to blow my nose. Super fine red dust all over the tissue.

5 minutes after that I am feeling headachey and very very congested in the sinuses.

I am going right now to carbatec to upgrade my 4" hose to some proper dust collecting stuff for the lathe, in the hopes that this will help.

But my question is... how dangerous is rosewood? I haven't seen NSW rosewood on the badwoods list. All that is listed there is "rosewood South East Asia, New Guinea Dermatitis, asthma "

4th Jun 2004, 12:24 PM
None of my references specify (nsw) Rosewood, but generally categorise it. The main reason is that not all of our timbers have been tested - and in general we expect similar results will be found if they were tested.

As you would have seen Rosewood in general is categorized as an irritant and sensitiser, with main impact sites being the eyes, skin and respiratory system. In comparison (of literature) it has proven to be more potent than blackwood which is fairly renowned for the problems it causes.

A couple of other things to look at include (given you are using a decent mask):

To start with what sort of mask are you using (brand/type) and what is its size?
Does it fit well and are you able to get a negative pressure seal - either cover over the filters with a piece of glad wrap or take off the filters and put your hand(s) over the inlet hole(s) so as to block them breath in - does air get in anywhere? (take it off and commence breathing again before you die of asphyxiation :D)
How often do you wash it out and is the exhalation valve working properly?
What sort of filters are you using - P1 or P2?

PS - to answer the question :D I believe it's a hardwood, be it PNG, Brazilian, Indian or a local spin off - therefore the dust is carcinogenic.

4th Jun 2004, 01:05 PM
I almost forgot to ask - you haven't by chance happened to have drilled a 6-8mm diameter hole through your filter or mask so as to be able to smoke a cigarete through it?

4th Jun 2004, 02:41 PM

Dust hazards are related to the particle size of the dust. Inspirable dust is the total dust the enters the nose the throat. Of that, only a fraction (depending on particle size) will enter the lungs. Some of the dust that enters the lungs stays there (ie it is not exhaled) - that it the part you really need to worry about re long term health effects.

Have a look at the link below...


You should be wearing at least a properly fitting P2 respirator - half face with eye protection. The fact that you have dust in your noise - whilst not good :rolleyes: , at least means that it is functioning as designed (ie to filter it out). :)

4th Jun 2004, 02:59 PM
I guess you've answered your own question ... for you this stuff is toxic. People vary in their sensitivities; redgum irritates my sinuses every time; silky oak doesn't. (But yes, there are so many 'rosewoods' on the market, it's often hard to know what your bit is).

Better intake into your DC may not help much - they aren't designed to suck up airborne dust. What kind of bag are you using on it? There are new units on the market now that are claimed to filter down to 1 micron. Older needle felt bags were supposed to go down to 2 or 3. Polyester to about 5.

FWIW When I sand I use an 8" flexible duct positioned right behind the piece I'm sanding, that connects to an old kitchen extractor fan venting outside. And a ceiling mounted air filter (sposed to be good down to 2/3 microns), and a Trend Airshield. I figure that you can aquire sensitivity after repeated exposure, and then you're cactus :(



4th Jun 2004, 04:22 PM
... I figure that you can aquire sensitivity after repeated exposure, and then you're cactus..

Too true - some substances will trigger a specific reaction from the body - if you are skeptical try sniffing pepper (pepper is not a known sensitiser - just an example). Imagine if you sniffed pepper a fair bit - your nose might run, you'd sneeze, perhaps your eyes will water, etc. One day you sit down to breakfast, sniff some pepper and instead of just the normal 'wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee' type sneeze your chest tightens, you break out in a rash across your face or neck, you can't breath properly and your nose swells up. That's sensitisation and from now on whenever you get even the most minor whiff of pepper you'll suffer similar aggravated signs/symptoms.<O:p</O:p

A large number of timber dusts have been classified as sensitiser, and in reality it often pays to heed the initial warning and cross that timber off the list for future use.<O:p</O:p

6th Jun 2004, 07:24 PM
Thanks for the responses guys.

First off - getting a better dust extraction system going worked a treat. All the fine dust is sucked straight down the chute. I haven't had a problem with the rosewood since.

I hate to say it eastie, but I am not using a proper dust mask. As i'm fairly new to turning I dont have one yet. Definitely a purchase for the future. I just can't currently justify a dust mask setup that would cost more than my lathe.

I have however been using my "surgical" masks. These would definitely be better than nothing, but nowhere near as good as a powered filtered mask.

Just out of curiosity, do you guys all use these expensive masks? or do you go without? Whats the norm?

6th Jun 2004, 10:04 PM
M-R I use a $40ish dollar setup from Kmart because I too am busy spending my money on people smaller than me. Have found it adaquete but not what a $500 one would be worth.

6th Jun 2004, 10:15 PM
First off - getting a better dust extraction system going worked a treat.

More information please!

I have spent an inordinate amount of time over the years researching dust collection methods various, and have not been able to draw conclusions on lathes.

Most web sites usually have notes like "lathe dust collection system is behind Uncle Joe in this picture!".

What works (nothing I gather), what nearly works then?



6th Jun 2004, 11:26 PM
this is by no means definitive, this is what i've found from a couple of days of experimenting.

first off, i got a bench grinder to sharpen my tools more regularly. I dont know how you guys find this, but the sharper my tools are, the larger the dust. Really sharp tools tend to kick off alot less fine dust and alot more large curly shavings. The fine dust then is pretty much sucked straight down the pipes, the curly shavings tend to fall straight to the floor, if they are near enough to a vent they get sucked into it.

Has anyone thought of modifying a toolrest to have a dust collection port inside it? I dont know if this would work, but it would kill alot of space, and probably catch almost all of the fine dust kicked off the blade.

Anyhow, I have attached a picture of what seems to work for me.

I should add that there is a hell of a lot of dust around on top and around the lathe, which discredits what I have said. Note that that was there before I put that new setup in. :)

7th Jun 2004, 12:32 AM
I set up dust extraction for my lathe today. I bought it from Carbatec (BS 100) was the part number I think. Can't find it on their on line catalogue. Basically it is a tripod type stand that is adjustable in height and with a wide narrow mouth dust chute that is adjustable angle on it. It is placed from behind the lathe and I find it works well. It doesn't collect everything but does get all the fine dust and a fair bit of the larger stuff as well.
As for dust mask, I use the Triton positive air respirator. It is a little cumbersome but when compared in price to the "Trend" I am prepared to put up with the extra bulk. Don't be putting off your respirator purchase for too long. The last thing you want is to be getting ill because of your hobby then not being able to par-take in it.
Regards Vasco

7th Jun 2004, 07:46 AM
I did actually consider the chute on a stand. One of the guys showed it to me.

We briefly discussed using a floor sweep with a piece of backing on it to accomplish the same thing - but this would be great for spindle work, not so great for bowl turning - at least thats what we worked out.

John Saxton
7th Jun 2004, 09:00 PM
M-R The dust extraction set up for your lathe should be as close as you can have it to the turning piece and probably needs to be adjusted as you turn down your piece.
Consideration has got to be given more for the maximum suction allowable with the system you're using .When I first started turning some years back I had the suction hose mounted on a vertical stand but with upgrading to a different lathe and which is permanantly floor mounted I have had to adjust the dust extraction system now mounted off the wall with a clip but able to be moved in or out depending on the size of the piece and is able to be remounted on the stand it turning on the outboard end.
Please consider all timbers hazardous not only when turning but handling as well.
Cheers :)