View Full Version : cutting plwood in my home

Blaine Grant
02-01-2015, 11:29 AM
Hi all. I have a small desktop laser in my office with a Bofa Hepa Ad350 (which has a chemical filter) which filters straight back into the room. I am doing a fair bit of cutting plywood (hpc laser ply if this makes a difference) lately and i need to know im doing the right thing before i carry on, so i have a few questions

1) will my filter remove all of the VOCs from this and anything else harmful
2) once the ply has been cut, are the cut edges still giving off any vapour after engraving? if so how long for and is this something to be concerned about, if i have cut pieces of wood hanging about my home
3) this leaves a fair bit of resin on the bed of the engraver which i obviously clean off, is this resin harmful if any way if i get it on my hands? ie can it be absorbed through the skin
4) how am i meant to know when the chemical filter has been saturated? there is an indicator which shows if the filter is clogged on the filter but this surely doesnt indicate the state of the chemical filter?

Bofa have advised me that i am safe to cut plywood inside and this is what the unit is designed to do, but to me it seems very risky knowing how harmful formalldehyde is (assuming hpcs laser ply contains this?)

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thankyou

Dave Sheldrake
02-01-2015, 12:47 PM
Chris's ply is low/zero formaldehyde Blaine :)

The resin is terrible stuff!! makes it look like you smoke 400 cigarettes a day when you get it all over your hands :) but it IS harmless (don't go eating it though)

I'm familiar with the unit you are using and the ply, you won't have any problems ;)



Blaine Grant
02-01-2015, 12:53 PM
thanks Dave, im pretty sure i have had my eyes stinging a bit from cutting this stuff though. Do you know what could be causing this then?

Clark Pace
02-01-2015, 1:09 PM
thanks Dave, im pretty sure i have had my eyes stinging a bit from cutting this stuff though. Do you know what could be causing this then?

A lot of product don't have formaldehyde anymore, or very little due to its hazardous problems I guess.

Dave Sheldrake
02-01-2015, 2:37 PM
thanks Dave, im pretty sure i have had my eyes stinging a bit from cutting this stuff though. Do you know what could be causing this then?

Any smoke will do that Blaine, it's the eye's natural defence mechanism to particulates. In some way all smoke is dangerous to some degree, whether that is smog, cigarette smoke or smoke from next doors bonfire, it all depends on the exposure really.

While smoke is likely not always actually toxic it is still smoke per-se and will be an irritant.

I'm usually up to my elbows in MDF and Ply resins most days and apart from looking like I smoke like a factory chimney I haven't suffered any ill effects in 16 years thus far :)

Blaine Grant
02-01-2015, 2:51 PM
Thanks, but how am I getting smoke if it's going through my filter? Surely it filters out any smoke? How can I be sure I'm not breathing toxic fumes?

Bert Kemp
02-01-2015, 4:11 PM
I would guess that your still getting a little that leaks out your cover. I know my laser doesn't suck out 100% of the fumes and smoke. Also you should leave the cover closed for a min or so after its done its thing.

Junior hall
02-01-2015, 5:07 PM
why not get a storage shed building put in your back yard and put the machine in and have the exhaust out the side of the shed so to not worry about the fumes or smoke as it is blown out side into a larger area of fresh air

Dan Hintz
02-02-2015, 7:44 AM
Also, be aware that you will clog your filters in very short order when cutting ply with lots of glue in it. If I'm forced to do a lot of ply, I will try to vent direct to the outside in the short term. I go back to venting inside when the project is over.

Blaine Grant
02-02-2015, 9:18 AM
How do I know the charcoal filter isn't saturated before the filters block? I unfortunately can't vent outside in my property

Dave Sheldrake
02-02-2015, 9:52 AM
To be honest Blaine, like Dan says, using a filter system on woods such as ply or MDF can run to 100's a month in filter replacement sadly. MDF especially clogs filters for fun, (think 6 - 8 hours use before a 300 filter set is dead)

My industrial has 3 stage filtering and even that needs to be stripped and cleaned on a weekly basis :(

Blaine Grant
02-02-2015, 3:06 PM
I don't cut a huge amount of ply. I only cut about 10 9" x 5" pieces a day. So far I've had my filter in there 5 months. It isn't saying it's clogged so I assume it's still good to use? I use the hpc laser lite ply so isn't this considerably better as mentioned above?

Dave Sheldrake
02-02-2015, 7:29 PM
HPC ply still exudes the same amount of smoke it's just not toxic like many other types :)

Ernie Balch
02-03-2015, 10:31 AM
The semiconductor industry uses fume scrubbers to cut air pollution. These units use water a spray to capture smoke or deadly fumes. Perhaps a barrel and a pump with spray nozzles would be cheaper in the long run.

Blaine Grant
02-03-2015, 12:13 PM
Is it not toxic at all then Dave? So I could cut it even without a charcoal filter and I'd be safe?

David Somers
02-03-2015, 3:43 PM

You might ask Bofa if their filter clogged warning includes the chemical filter. My guess is it doesn't. They probably measure back pressure in the air flow to spot a clogged physical filter.

More typical with a chemical/charcoal filter is to weigh the charcoal. As it absorbs the chemicals it gains weight. I used to live on top of a live volcano in HI and we used a filter that removed sulphur dioxide from the air in our house. The rule of thumb for that filter was that when the charcoal gained 20% of its starting weight it was pretty close to spent and should be replaced.

This is based more on gut feeling than anything. But I don't want "stuff" going into my lungs if I can reasonably prevent it, particulates or gases. It is not worth the risk. I have grown fond of breathing and don't want to become one of those old folks sitting on stools in Las Vegas, pulling the handles on the slot machines while they suck on O2 through a nasal cannula (and smoke at the same time of course....by then the damage is done....what the heck?)

Ernie! It sounds like you are describing the industrial version of a Hookah! <grin> You might try marketing those in marijuana friendly Washington and Colorado! <grin>