With our ever increasing awareness of Health and Safety in the workshop, and of the true extent of dust hazards, especially in regard to
woodturning and wood machining, the need for effective and efficient workshop dust extraction has never been clearer. Until very recently, the home woodworking enthusiast has not enjoyed ready access to suitable
equipment and most of that which purported to provide such functionality was quite likely to be doing exactly the opposite. In truth, many of the devices offered as "Dust Extractors" were in fact "Dust
Re-Circulation Machines", expelling back into the workshop atmosphere the fine dust particles most likely to do damage to the respiratory system or to act as carcinogens. They may have been capable of removing
chips and shavings, but they could not filter out the damaging fine dusts - the true causes of most of the respiratory, dermatological and carcinogenic problems that can result from working wood without adequate
We suggest the adoption of a three-point strategy to minimise workshop dust hazards. Working from the operator "outwards", personal respiratory protection is undoubtedly important and
equipment to deal with this is covered in the "Respirators" section. The respirator could be considered as your last bastion of defence: the very air that will enter your lungs is filtered at the point of entry into your
body. But it might also be said that prevention is better than cure: if we can reduce the amount of dust getting into the atmosphere, then we can reduce the load imposed on the respirator. The best way to do
this is to extract the dust, along with the chippings, at the moment it is created. For this we recommend the CamVac range of dust extractors - which are well complemented by the range of CamVac pipe and hose accessories
and which feature a particularly fine filter, removing particles down to 0.5 microns in size. The final stage of creating a safe working environment - in terms of air quality at least - is the continuous cleaning of the atmosphere through the use of a recirculating
ambient air filter - the best of which, in our opinion, is the Thor Filtration range. These cost almost nothing to run and we recommend leaving the Ambient Air Filter running for at least
an hour after you leave the workshop, to eliminate the dust which - despite all your precautions - will have been entrapped in the air whilst you were working.
Even with all these precautions, one cannot
guarantee that some dust-provoked malady will not strike you down - but you can be very certain that the likelihood is very, very, very much less than if you failed to take these elementary precautions. We can
only provide the facts and advice and source the machinery that will assist in your clean air campaign: the final decision is yours and yours alone: after all it is your life and - potentially - death.
©1997-2006 P. Hemsley. The information on this website is the copyright property of Peter Hemsley.
Bois and The ToolPost are trading styles of Peter Hemsley. Whilst reasonable efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of information presented, no liability can be accepted for errors in this information nor for
contingencies arising therefrom. If you are inexperienced in any aspect of woodworking, we would strongly counsel that you take a course of formal instruction before commencing to practice