Multi-Coloured Dust Shop

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Mark Baker

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I was in a workshop the other day turning some projects. It was one of those hot and humid days where no matter what I did, the skin felt clammy. I must admit to hating that sensation, it just doesn’t feel pleasant.

I was working on some boxes and vases using various timbers and stopped for a coffee break. I removed the respirator, switched off the extraction and out I went. My friend saw me, went a bit wide-eyed and asked in a somewhat troubled voice, what had I been doing? I told him and he just started to laugh and told me to go look in a mirror. I duly did this, only to see that every exposed piece of skin was covered in fine, multi-coloured red, tan, black and orange dust! When leaving the workshop, I had done the cursory brush off the arms and so on to remove some of the chips and shavings that invariably fly and cling to the turner, but this is a habit which is done without my taking too much notice to see what I was covered in.

There were clearly demarked lines around where the seal of the respirator had gone, around the sleeve lines of my tee shirt and all over the top of the bald, uncovered section of my head! It was as though someone had put masking tape around these areas and dusted me off like one does with icing sugar on a cake. Whilst I agree that it did look quite comical, the issue is that the dust management systems in place did not deal with the dust as expected.

We all know the issue of dealing with dust is important. Looking after your lungs and eyes is vital to one’s wellbeing

The workshop has a 2hp extractor with 4 metres of piping to the lathe, which in turn is connected with a moveable hood to catch as much dust at source as possible. There is an ambient filter to filter any particles in the air, and at the far end of the workshop – away from the turner – there is a wall fan/extractor vented to the outside, and of course, I was wearing a respirator.

Some may say that this kit is more than they have to deal with dust. I would say that whilst that may be true, it didn’t work that well that day. I know I was sanding a lot with carved detail being a major part of the work, and this was done both with hand and power and being a clammy day, it would, of course, stick to any exposed skin, but even so!

On checking the equipment there were no blocked filters or pipe work. I hadn’t forgotten to switch anything on and all I can put it down to was that the positioning of the moveable head wasn’t moved enough. Silly little things like this can have serious implications.

What do you use in your workshop to deal with the issue of dust?

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