The Avid Woodworker – AW Episode # 11 – 5 Simple Woodworking Dust Control Tips
In this episode, I talk about a 5 Simple Tips you can do to control dust in your shop as well as keep it out of your lungs, and your house. Before I get started with the tips, I briefly discuss why this should be taken very seriously.
For years, most woodworkers (myself included) have considered wood dust to be a nuisance. But, with the sinus problems I started to develop in 2005, I started to realize that wood dust is harmful and should be taken seriously. Frankly, the more research I performed, the more concerned I became and began to make changes in how I woodwork as it related to wood dust. Here is some of the information I have found:
Before 1985, OSHA regulated wood dust under its nuisance dust standard of 15 mg/m3 (29 CFR 1910.1000, Table Z-3). Today, it is considered a carcinogen. The Report on Carcinogens (RoC), US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and National Toxicology Program (NTP) identify and discuss agents, substances, mixtures, or exposure circumstances that may pose a health hazard due to their carcinogenicity. The listing of substances in the RoC only indicates a potential hazard and does not establish the exposure conditions that would pose cancer risks to individuals. Under NTP, Wood Dust [132 KB PDF, 3 pages] is classified as a known human carcinogen.
In addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks for Humans [37 KB PDF, 8 pages] lists wood dust as a carcinogen. Lastly, Toxic Woods [99 KB PDF, 4 pages] from Health and Safety Executive (HSE), (1997, October) identifies health effects of wood exposures and precautions, and includes a table of woods and their effects.
I could go on more, but I hopefully made my point.
5 Simple Woodworking Dust Control Tips
The first four tips are listed from least expensive to most expensive. I also have some tips on how to make your common dust collection methods more effective and arguably less expensive.
1) Dust Mask – A simple, inexpensive mask will keep dust out of your lungs and sinuses and protect you from a health standpoint. But, will not keep your area clean. If you work outside it does not matter. You can use disposable ones – I use the 3M tekk N95 approved sanding valved respirators. Here is an affiliant link in case you are interested. 3M 8511 Particulate Sanding N95 Respirator with Valve, 10-Pack I went to buy a Cloth dust mask the other day at the woodcraft store, but they were sold out. The advantage to the cloth ones is that you can wash and reuse them.
I also discussed the advantages to using a sinus rinse to help control dust that might collect in your sinuses. NeilMed Sinus Rinse, Premixed 50 Sachets
2) Ceiling mounted air cleaner. You do not have to spend a ton of money to clean the dust particles out of the ambient air. You can use an old box fan (or a new one) and attach a re-usable air filter to it. Here are some pictures to show what is hanging from our ceiling.
This is the back of the box fan – Time to clean the filter again.
Picture of the side of the fan
I hung the fan upside down so I could turn it on.
As I mention in the podcast, the fan is old, at least 20 years old, probably older. But, since it hand from the ceiling, I do not have to worry about kids putting their fingers into the blades.
3) Shop vac with dust collection cyclone.
If you can’t afford a dust cyclone yet, pick up some pantyhose and put them over your filter. I use a permanent air filter. When it is time to clean the filter, you just pull the pantyhose off and most of the dust falls off. It really extends the time you have before you have to clean the filter again. It is also work buying a decent extension hose and floor sweeper to pick the dust up off the ground and lying around your shop. I was lucky that my parents, who are avid garage sale shoppers, picked up a whole bunch of extra hose that I just bought connectors for.
Here are a couple examples of dust collection cyclones to improve your shop vac performance.
The Dust Deputy
There are many more.
There are many great options out there on the market. To get the most use out of it, you have to set things up so that it is easy to use. If it is a pain, you are less likely to use it. I set up mine up with a combination of flexible hosing and PVC Pipes.
The picture above is of the switch that turns on the shop vac when you turn on your power tools. Here is an affiliate link to it if you are interested in buying one yourself. i-socket 110m Tool and Vacuum Switch
5) Miscelaneous tips to keep the dust out of your house
Use a piece of scrap carpet on your entry and exit to your shop so that the dust on the bottom of your shoes does not drag into the house. Vacuum it often. Keep a bench brush and broom handy at all times. Use all the above steps to control the dust in your shop
A Few Updates from the previous episode
In episode #010, I talked about a Halloween Woodworking project which was arguably a little on the crafty side than on the purest woodworking side, but it continued to introduce my kids to certain woodworking principles such as how to plan your project (at a very simple level), how to take measurements, how to transfer those measurements to your project plans, how to transfer those measurements to your wood, and how to hand saw.
Well, I had planned on finishing up my wooden scarecrow and publishing the finished product as soon as I finished. Unfortunately, after recording that podcast, one weekend was lost to a visit to the hospital (no worries, I am healthy now, just some bizarre infection that the doctors could not clearly identify). Then, another weekend was spent working with the cubmobile race that I was in charge of. Fortunately, when I went down, I had a whole crew of other scout leaders to step up and help make sure we were prepare for the race. I had to spend part of one weekend finishing up the cubmobile for my den. Fortunately, both my sons helped finish the painting so it did not take too long. The good news is that the cubmobile that we made (which looks like a hammerhead shark), wound up winning the overall race with one of the scouts in my den.
Here is a picture of the cubmobile.
Until next time, I hope everyone can get into their shop and build useful works of art.