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Thread: Irritating wood

  1. #1
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    Irritating wood

    I'm making a simple frame out of some Makore (African Cherry) and finding that the sawdust is quite the irritant. Even using Neander methods, my nose is burning and I got a headache after a couple hours of cutting half lap joints. I'm hoping a dust mask makes a difference next time.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  2. #2
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    I sat on a pile of Makore (given to me as a gift) for nearly two years before building with it. I had read about how it could be an irritant and was genuinely anxious when I finally plucked up the courage. But 3 cartons of beer later, I said "the Hell with it", and built this ...



    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  3. #3
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    Just kidding.




    The drawers are Jarrah, but the carcase is Makore.

    Lovely wood to work - medium hard, planed and finished easily.

    The side book-matched panels are just wonderful ..



    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Last edited by Derek Cohen; 11-15-2021 at 8:53 AM.

  4. #4
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    Gorgeous work Derek. I agree that it's nice to work with. This is the first frame I built with it a few years back. I don't remember it causing this much distress last time.

    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  5. #5
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    I can't use Padauk. It breaks me out. I've used a lot of exotics in the past, but this is the only one I avoid. If you really want to use it, I'd wear good gloves, good respirator, not a N95 or other crap paper filter, and don't sand it. Scrape only. But really I would sell it and buy oak or walnut or pine. It IS dangerous to continue to use a wood or other toxin.
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  6. #6
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    For me it is rose wood. After about an hour of turning it will start to give me a light headache. A dust mask helps.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  7. #7
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    For me, it is desert ironwood. I got rid of the small collection of it that I had, which were intended to be turned as marking tool handles, after it caused dermal and respiratory reactions for me.
    ~mike

    scope creep

  8. #8
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    I am glad to see reasonable honest discussion here. Allergies are no joke. Permanent lung damage is no joke. My take is if a wood worker finds they are reacting to a particluar wood, they should stop working with that wood. Doesn't mean they have to stop wood working. Stop working with that species, or at least that tree if it was a previously tolerated wood, and read up a bit.

    Off the shelf dust masks can help, but really, meh. Besides filter efficiency, the effectiveness of the seal has to also be considered. Doesn't matter how good your dust mask is if it leaks. If you just have to work with whatever tree, off the shelf on a budget, look at a respirator with a really good filter, probably P100 for fine particulates or organic solvent filter cartridges depending on what you are reacting too. With an off the shelf half face respirator (about 15 bucks) you want to see a continuous red line where the rubber seal was pressing around your nose and mouth after maybe 30 minutes or so of wearing it. If your eyes are red I encourage you to look at both a full face respirator and your priorities. Do you really have to use Madagascar Oak or New England Jarrah? Could some other wood (that you aren't allergic too) be almost as good? Can someone who is not a wood worker tell the difference when you are done?

    Rob, if you are reacting with hand tools but your eyes aren't red, a half face mask from your nearest fire/ safety dealer might be all you need. Possibly some nitrile gloves and brief suffering in long sleeves if you have skin reaction to go with. I wouldn't buy anymore of that wood, personally. I am super super super bummed Derek won't be a running a BBQ class, that would have been epic.

    FWIW I do have a "dust collection" system for Neanderthal's under construction at this end. It is one of these:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fixd7LqnWow

    only I am going to use a 20" (quiet) box fan at the top. And I am making the filter array 64" tall (plus casters) with 20x20 furnace filters @ MERV 13. My plan is to run the fan on 'low' to fit in with the deliberate, attentuated, relaxed neander approach, but I haven't figured out filter spacing. It will go at the offhand end of my bench just past the trashcan. When I am planing, the chips will fall in the can, the dust will get captured by the filtration, but I am working with wood I don't react to. I don't think this system will eliminate (probably will reduce) reaction to allergens, but it should quietly reduce suspended particulates in my shop. Should work good when I take a whisk broom to my benchtop as well.

    There is an eastern North American hardwood I react too. I don't remember what it is. Not only did I react to it in the shop, I found it unpleasant in my BBQ pits as well. Not hickory, or apple, not other fruit wood, or maple, or oak, whatever. I am sure I will remember I didn't like it next time I see it on sale. Sycamore? I dunno. There is a bunch of species out there. If you react to one or few you are not doomed to take up golf, just be aware and work around it.

    Appreciate, as always, the registered users here being real.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Winners View Post
    .......Rob, if you are reacting with hand tools but your eyes aren't red, a half face mask from your nearest fire/ safety dealer might be all you need. Possibly some nitrile gloves and brief suffering in long sleeves if you have skin reaction to go with. I wouldn't buy anymore of that wood, personally.....
    Yup, going with a dust mask to finish the project and I won't be using Makore again. I used a Neti Pot to flush out my nose and all is well now.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  10. #10
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    Just to be safe when using the bandsaw on fairly benign woods like alder a mask is worn just to keep the dust out of my nose and mouth.

    Alder seems to make a very fine dust.

    Pine and some firs have a pleasant aroma but still wear a mask when working on them in the bandsaw.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  11. #11
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    I get some reactions from most pines, been checked and do have some allergy to pine. The worst ones for me are junipers and the big one cedar. Cedar dust will swell my eyes closed in minutes. Never had a problem with others even exotics like cocabola and the others.
    Jim

  12. #12
    I came down with Red Cedar Asthma 25 years ago and never have been able to use it since. The allergist was quite clear about avoiding it afterwards. Even smelling it in the lumber yard can make my throat and windpipe start to constrict, especially if it is wet.

    Birch plywood tends to bother me a little, but oddly enough, other plywood and solid birch is fine. It must be the combination of the birch dust and the glue.

  13. #13
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    I like Ipe but I am extremely cautious about wearing a real cartridge style mask when using it. The slivers are awful, very hard and sharp and hurt like the dickens when you get one.

  14. #14
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    Red oak tends to bother me a little, but haven't had any serious reaction to it, just a little bit of a scratchy throat. No issues with white oak though.

    I did have a severe reaction to some rosewood many years ago. My one arm was literally blistered from where it was coated in a fine layer of sawdust. I am still able to work with all the different types of rosewood though. I tend to be more careful now, (was much younger and dumber back then), making sure to use good dust collection and washing any exposed skin after working with them. I turn quite a bit of the rosewood species on the lathe, but have set up an efficient dust collection setup that pretty much gets all the sanding dust. They turn so nicely and are such beautiful woods, I hope to continue to be able to work with them, so spend the extra effort to try to prevent any repeat episodes.

  15. #15
    I've gotten to where I won't even work with tropicals for the most part. I have enough hay fever and other allergies, it just isn't worth the risk. There are enough good domestic woods, I don't see the need unless I need some particular property of the wood, like ebony for key tops.

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