Wood turners create lots of shavings. While they can pile up on the floor and be a bit of a nuisance, they are generally not a health hazard. Dust, on the other hand, can be a risk for the lungs and general health. There are some things that can help the problem.
Woodworkers sometimes find the woodworking shop is also the dust making shop. Modern power sanders may do a quick job of getting a surface smooth for the finish coats to go on, but at the same time they create a lot of dust and cast it into the air. The rotary action of turning wood coupled with power sanders on the part of woodturners generates a lot of sawdust and throws it hard into the air. Add to this the idea that wood turners often sand far finer than other woodworkers and there is a lot of dangerous, superfine dust in the atmosphere of the home shop.
Taking care of the dust problem requires at least a three tiered approach. It needs to be handled at the source, at the destination, and before it reaches the lungs.
One of the best tools to handle dust at the source is a good dust collector. Some woodturners start to use a dust collector for all turning and quickly get discouraged. This is simply because the machine is a dust collector and not a shavings collector. While it will collect some of the shavings, they are usually heavier than the machine is designed to handle and most collection bags are too small for most shops as far as shavings are concerned. On the other hand, they will collect a lot dust if aimed at the sanding tool and, with a proper bag, will gather the dangerous, super fine stuff.
Wood dust finds its own destination, generally every available surface in the shop. Routine dusting and vacuuming is a must and a good shop vac is a great help. However, on a regular basis that will vary from individual to individual, there needs to be a plan to eliminate as much dust as possible from the home shop. One system that works well is to seal all the doors and windows, turn on the dust collector, and move everything from on half the shop to the other.
As the materials and tools are moved back, as much dust as possible is vacuumed and then an air compressor and nozzle are used to blow off every piece and allow the dust collector to do its job. Everything is moved to one side of the shop so that the last side is cleaned, and the shop put back together. Do not forget to consider the inside and underside of power tools as the cleaning is done.
It is necessary to wear a n95 mask for sale during the cleaning time and also when sanding wood. This adds to the nasal passage’s own defences from dust and will add years to your lungs. Check to make sure the mask meets industrial standards for safety from fine workshop dust and get the best you can afford.
While the steps to keep dust from being a hazard can be time consuming and a nuisance, they will do wonders to add to the safety and enjoyment of a wonderful hobby. All are needed in the woodturning shop.
Darrell Feltmate is a juried wood turner whose web site, Around the Woods, contains detailed information about wood turning for the novice or experienced turner as well as a collection of turnings for your viewing pleasure. You too can learn to turn wood, here is the place to start. Wondering what it looks like? Follow the page links for a free video.