Dust in a handtools environment!

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    Paul Oram

    Ive just started with woodworking. My workshop space is 3 x 2,5 metres. I am finding dust more of an issue than I realised it would be (Paul makes it seem a lot less messy than it is – we don’t see behind his bench in the videos ;-). Especially when rip sawing. Ive also spent quite a while with squaring up rough stock. So the floor is very quickly piled high with shavings.

    Ive inadvertently breathed in a little wood dust (my initial automatic habit of looking at my plane blade and blowing away the dust and shavings didn’t help!!! dust rebounding into my face – a pretty dumb thing to do, so ive stopped with that habit!!). Burns your throat!

    So, ive just ordered a wet/dry Nilfisk vacuum to help keep things tidier, and I will switch it on when rip sawing – attach it to the bench somehow. Ive also ordered a decent nose/mouth mask with filters. I hope this is enough. Open the door/ventilate the space a bit more.

    Any advice welcome.

    Michael Evans

    Hello Paul,
    Hand too woodworking is famous for greatly limiting the total dust produced as compared to power tool use but it is inevitable that some dust will be produced especially during sawing, sanding, rasping and scraping. Fortunately, most of the particles settle out pretty quickly with the biggest offender being dust from sanding operations.There are commercially produced air filter systems which are normally mounted on the ceiling and generally clears the shop air. Some woodworkers will just take a portable box fan fitted with a fine filter, normally used as a house HVAC filter, and use it as either a general air filtering system or to direct any fine dust away from the woodworker. Downdraft tables connected to vacuum cleaners work well for scraping and sanding. I don’t know of any dust collection system appropriate to hand tool woodworking other than just general cleaning so the next level would be for personal protection equipment. I haven’t had a great deal of problem from the dust issue but I have used a simple dust mask when sanding. Dust exposure and sensitivity to some woods have been more of an issue and I would recommend doing research on any woods (and other materials) you might be inclined to use and avoid fine dust inhalation.
    Instead of blowing away dust on edged tools, I just use a inexpensive “chip” brush. The bush has the added advantage of being able to extricate shavings in the plane mouth with risking cuts to fingers. Have fun.

    Paul Oram

    Thanks for the advice Michael. I’ve got more organized now. I vacuum regularly and wear a decent mask when needs be. I also bought a scrub plane that significantly reduces the amount of effort required to square stock. Generally though as I get used to, and more confident with the tools there is less dust. Rip sawing more slowly and letting the saw do the work for example. I do have a piece of mahogany which I think I will need to be careful with – but I will save this for the time being until my skill level has increased a bit more.

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