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Dust in the workshop

Dust is a real issue whatever the source may be, I’ve gone into a lot of detail here, but be patient and read it all, I’m sure there will be something of interest to you.


I say dust in the workshop because that’s where I pay more attention to it, mainly because I teach children here, I spend a lot of my time here, and that’s where I have more ways of collecting or masking dust. Outside, if there’s a breeze then I hold my breath, make the cut, then wait till the dust has gone.


In my early working life, there was no such thing as mask’s, gloves or toe cap boots, so I feel very lucky to have got this old with no related problems.


However, the other day as it was raining I cleaned up some metal inside the workshop, the flap disc type sandpaper things, the filtration unit was going all day and I wore a cloth facemask, the sparks/dust/fillings where noticeably showering down to the floor away from any tools etc, the idea being to just sweep them up and the workshop is clean, a few days later I notice some black bits on the centre of the magnets on the wall, it was fine metal filings, see the pictures with the magnet in, the other picture is the wall of my workshop, the magnets at the top also had a lot of fillings on them, this is a stark reminder showing just how easy it is to be complacent once in a while because, well, its just a little bit, wont be much dust, I’ll be alright, it’s too much bother masking up, etc, etc, etc.


I have to admit I was really surprised to find it there at all, let alone right up there at the top, I guess safely hanging magnets near where your working metal is a brilliant idea as it catches bits in the air but a respirator is better.












In my workshop I have a filtration unit which goes on immediately I enter the workshop if I’m going to be working , I knock the dust of the filter several times a week, I also have two, 9 inch, 2 way, 2 speed, extractor fans, one at each end of the workshop, so one blowing in and the other blowing out, also a chip extractor, I think the pleated filter is one micron, also two henry type vacs from Rutland’s tools  each with 4 filters, plus one heavy duty vac on a wheeled frame, last but most importantly my JSP Powercap Active IP respirator.


Many years ago, whilst watching a live demo from a known woodturner somebody asked, quote, “you’re not wearing a mask, what do you wear in your workshop” he replied, “nothing, you don’t need to wear a mask in the workshop!” I couldn’t believe my ears.


Any dust is bad for you, not just specific timbers, all timbers or dust are to be avoided. Every now and then I get my leaf blower out and blown in, around and under the benches, cupboards and shelves of my workshop with door open, both fans on external and wearing my respirator, it gets all the loose dust out and away.

The motors on all my lathes have a fan blowing cool air over the outside of the motor casing, its this fan that draws dusty air and shavings down from the turning, along over the motor casing and into the workshop, so, the lathe I use most is on a wheeled bench, under the bench top is a box with a 100mm spigot to which I connect my chip/dust extractor, inside the headstock is a hole right through to the box underneath, fitted to the top of the bench is the bendy pipe also through to the box underneath, so my extractor is pulling air from the flexy pipe thats directed to the work piece and from inside the headstock, it works very well, It doesn’t take everything but its takes a high percentage of the fine stuff away.


I have a steel plate fixed to the ceiling over the lathe, I affix my magnetic based lamp to this, very handy as its very easy to move to a better position, when I’m sanding, I can see the dust in the light of the lamp, so I sand, clap my hands with the sandpaper in under the light and take a step back, withing a few seconds you can see the dancing dust particles disappearing down the pipe, this is especially useful if I don’t need to wear my respirator and just sand for a moment, not often but it happens.


I regularly clean all my filters and keep the JSP charge up, as I said at the beginning of this article, I’m lucky to have got this old with no affects from my working life but who knows when that luck runs out so I don’t take that risk.


I teach children and adults in my workshop and I’m very careful for their safe environment to, especially as the children’s heads are much closer to the lathe, if required when teaching in addition to the main extractor I hold a henry type vac right close to the piece while they sand, all students wear some sort of face/eye protection.

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