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Blackwood Hurts!

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Lefty

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I was shaping a ferrule out of blackwood this afternoon, and I realized after about 5 minutes, my lungs felt like they were being lit on fire, from the inside! It was pretty bad. I guess I should have been wearing a mask, like when I grind steel, but it's wood! My "shop" is well ventilated, with two big windows and a good sized door next to my press and sander, so I've never noticed too much, in terms of smell, etc.
Has anyone else noticed that Africa Blackwood lights up their lungs? Are there any other woods/materials I should be concerned about?
On a pleasant note, the coral spacer piece smelled like candy when I was shaping it!
Do you guys have any favorite materials to work with, because of anything other than workability, such as smell, or feel?
I personally love the smell of cherry wood and pine (when sawing).
 

apicius9

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Not good! There are a number of woods that I like the smell of, including some rosewoods or thuya. But after doing this for a while and reading up on some of the woods - whenever I smell the wood that means my respirator is not sitting tightly enough. Some of the fine wood dusts are highly toxic, like cocobolo which is in the same family as blackwood. Personally, I react the strongest to black ebony. So, wearing a good mask is really a smart thing when working with wood. I even went with a respirator that supposedly blocks fumes also - I have a beard and they never fit right, but this one seemed to be the best. I value my eyes and lungs too much to not protect them.

Stefan
 

Lefty

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Good advice! I'll have to throw it on for wood too, I guess. That sucks!
Funny, I never pictured you with a beard!
 

jmforge

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Blackwood is a member of the rosewood family. I have never had a problem with it, rosewood or cocobolo, but a number of people do and the effect is apparently cumulative like with mango sap or poison ivy/oak/sumac. It might get worse over time. Have you ever had problems with any other wood? I know of one guy who worked in the marine industry installing teak on high end fishing boats for like 15 years and one morning he woke up and was allergic to the stuff. As for smell, Amboyna reminds me of cookies baking. Micarta reminds of someone laying up a cheap bass boat using polyester resin. Some people say that sambar stag, like other bone, stinks to high heaven, but it doesn't bother me. Now if you get the pith wet, is is some funky, goopy stuff.
 

HHH Knives

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I have never used Blackwood. But I have heard that some people have allergic reactions to some woods.. Particularly to rosewoods, like cocobolo.. I personally love the smell of cocobolo and Honduran rosewood etc. And enjoy using it. Truth is, I love the smell of most woods and cherry is awesome.. But I think my favorite smelling wood is Afzilia it sorta smells like spice cake for lack of a better way to describe it. similar to amboyna but a little sweeter smelling. Followed closely by the smell of yellow cedar. And I could go on and on..lol Im a BURL JUNKY!!!

There are a few materials I really dont like the smell of. I would say the worst is Horn.. Buffalo horn smells so bad and stinks up the whole shop for days! I mean the only way to describe it is RANK! like somehow the smell from every dump the buffalo ever left behind found its way into the horn. lol I mean its BAD! Then the smell of mammoth tooth is probably the next worst IMO. like the worst trip you could ever imagine to the dentist.. the smell of tooth is BAD and also something that takes a little gettig use to. if you ever can get use to it..

How was the coral to work, aside from smelling nice? Soft? hard? full of holes? etc..
 

Lefty

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I've never had any issues with any other woods, but I'm thinking I should exercise some caution now. I have heard of developing allergies, but let's hope that isn't the case!
Randy, your whole post made me laugh! I love the dump comment. Haha
The coral is actually faux coral (sorry). It, however was an absolute dream to shape, other than it bunging up my belts a bit. It got pretty hot to the touch, in no time, but I'm guessing that is partly because of how thin it is.
 

PierreRodrigue

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I wear a respriator, twin cartridge from 3M, that is rated high for dust and nuisance vapors. For me I find cocobolo makes me hack, I love the small of rosewoods, amboyna and some others. Horn, antler, and tooth stink! Horn is like burning hair, which makes sense, because that is what it is, and mammoth tooth is probably the worst for me. Ivory is right up there.
 

Lefty

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Pierre, I'll apologize now for making you hand rub S35VN, file titanium and shape mammoth tooth all for one knife. At least it was worth it!
 

kalaeb

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I guess this brings up a lot of good questions...I have been thinking about getting a full face respirator for awhile, how many of you guys use a full face mask when sanding? Also, is dust measured in microns, pm, grit???what is the best respirator cartridge for woodworking? I assume there are different ratings...it has been a long while since I have purchased one. Have any of you had a reaction from dust getting in your eyes?
 

l r harner

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there's some woods that smell great but remember if you can smell it it's getting in your lungs too respirator needs used more then most makersthink
 

mhenry

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Ironwood does it to me,cant breath, sneeze my but off, get light headed. I think I damn near died the first time, I always wear a respirator now
 

JMJones

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I wear my resporator when working with wood at all times, even hand sanding which is something I dont to with steel. There are too many toxic woods and allergy possibilities to mess around with.
 

HHH Knives

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I dont need not stinking respirator! lol Just kidding..

I agree its best to use one.. I just dont as often as I probably should.
 

PierreRodrigue

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I guess this brings up a lot of good questions...I have been thinking about getting a full face respirator for awhile, how many of you guys use a full face mask when sanding? Also, is dust measured in microns, pm, grit???what is the best respirator cartridge for woodworking? I assume there are different ratings...it has been a long while since I have purchased one. Have any of you had a reaction from dust getting in your eyes?

Which ever model, and company you choose to go with, choose you cartridge based on fine dust control, and nuisance vapours. These will filter things like paint and solvent fumes. You need this level simply because if the dust gets you, consider what heat does to the natural oils in woods like ironwood and cocobolo. I know when my belt runs too fast and I am hogging wood off a new handle build, it smokes sometimes, that smokemakes my nose itch, makes me sneeze, and cough right now! Why risk it to save 5 bucks. Get a better cartridge than just dust.
 

Lefty

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I'm glad I asked! Time to go upgrade my cartridges!
 

Marko Tsourkan

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My favorite smell wood is Lignum Vitae and Cocobolo, and oak but even those I won't work without a respirator and some sort of exhaust system, like a vacuum or exhaust fan. If you do it once or twice, it won't hurt you, but if you plan on doing it regularly, invest in a good 3M respirator.

M
 

Mike Davis

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Trend Airshield is the top of the line full face respirator.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002Q0Y5B2/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 Cheapest i have found it so far.
The reason for the burning in your lungs is the oils in the wood reacting to the cilia in your lungs(Hairy little air filters) are inflamed by contact with the oils. It is an allergic reaction that causes swelling and inflammation in your natural air filtration system, and as you found out it is very painful and can be fatal.
I wear my respirator when doing anything remotely dusty in my shop....I have pretty bad asthma and a weird chronic sinus issue so i really need to.
 
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Diamond G

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A full face respirator isnt really needed unless you feel more comfortable with it. A good 3M 1/2 face with a dust or nusance cartridge will do a great job. Dust is measured and filtered in microns. Go with a known brand such as MSA/3M, or Dragger. Get one that is a soft heavy rubber sealing surface to fit your face well.

Also I keep mine in a large zip lock bag when not in use as the inside seemed to get dusty.

Many exotic woods are toxic, but several of us get more allergic to them the more we are exposed. I cannot use iromwood without a respirator, long sleeves, and a strong fan blowing across the grinder. My Dr friend says we get desensitized to things the more we are exposed.

PLEASE invest in a good respirator, I work in the health and safety field and a LOT of the stuff we expose ourselves to as knifemakers id bad. I would shut down many jobs down if the workers were exposed to the stuff we do on a daily basis!

God Bless
Mike
 

jwhite

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It's not just the wood, but other fine materials that work themselves into all the nooks and crannies of a shop. I was recently working in my little shop with just cabinet makers files and about half a moment on the band saw to cut out some scale blanks. And I some how kicked up some bone or brass shavings, which tend to barb, which led to about two weeks of slightly bloody noses and congestion. I had my respirator carefully placed around my neck at the time.
 

Lefty

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Yikes! That's a good thing to point out.
At least your neck stayed safe, right? ;)
 

jwhite

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LOL just pulled the trigger on a positive air respirator. Hoping it keeps the discomfort and glasses fogging down so I won't use it as a scarf.

positive pressure resperator.jpg
 

Marko Tsourkan

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I started working ebony again lately. I use a respirator and the only thing that bothers me most is that ebony dust stains my hands. :) It makes my skin itch somewhat if the dust lands on it (it is almost as fine as a black pigment), but a shower after work takes care of that. Ebony is still one of my favorite woods, along with Arizona desert ironwood and cocobolo.

M
 

Lefty

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So, my belt sander crapped out on me...well not exactly, but one of the pulleys has a big wobble and won't hold a belt...so I had to true my blackwood ferrule and stabilized lacewood I'm working BY HAND, so I could do my glue up in time to finish shape the rest of my handle, before all of my time goes to Fire training. Needless to say, even truing a piece, by taking thousandths of an inch off sucked!
I can't get over how hard that blackwood is. One positive, was less dust kicked up in my face when I sanded by hand, I guess.
 

Dave Martell

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Did you sand on something flat? I hate doing hand work like this for anything more than an inkling of time.
 

Lefty

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Yup, I tool my 50 grit belt and held it tight against a granite slab from Lee Valley. Man I love that place!
I'm actually thinking I might just get the 1"x30" belt sander sometime fairly soon, an just use mine for the disc sander.
 

jwhite

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I was looking at a 1"x30" just recently also, and I couldn't get by without my granite engineers plate myself. I got mine from Woodcraft. You might consider a good cabinet makers fine rasp for a back up they tend not to ever brake down:razz:. More seriously I'm experimenting with a drum sanding bit in the drill press for initial shaping not sure how it would work on flats on hidden tang knives. I'm thinking with the table set at 45 degrees and a fence might get most of the way there.
 

Marko Tsourkan

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Did you sand on something flat? I hate doing hand work like this for anything more than an inkling of time.
Good quality 6x48 belts that are attached with spray adhesives to a granite plate are a great way to flatten wood and will last a long time. I also use a good quality 3M sand paper on top of granite plates to finish handles with metal spacers - you get the whole surface dead flat. Been doing it for over 2 years now and haven't modified the approach much.

M
 

Burl Source

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I was scolded yesterday by one of our customers.
He is a retired Physician.
I was cutting some wood on the bandsaw and not wearing a mask.
I normally just wear my mask while sanding.
He explained that a lot of the dust from wood as well as other sources will accumulate and can induce pneumonia.
Today I have been wearing my mask while doing anything that makes dust.

Now I just have to figure out a way to stop dust from coming through the hole for my cigarette. :shocked3: (this is my favorite emoticon)
 
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