Wood Dust, Hand Tools & Workshop Location

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4 thoughts on “Wood Dust, Hand Tools & Workshop Location

  1. Bob,

    I agree that there should be little concern that a in-house, handtool-only shop would generate dust that could get into the HVAC system and be spread throughout the house. But what about finishing? Just about any finish has volatiles that can spread through the house, even from a shop not connected to the HVAC system.


    • Finishes are absolutely a concern, but they would be a concern in a basement or garage as well. The answer is adequate ventilation. In the warmer months, on nice days, finishing can be done outside. On nastier days, I open the window. A small window fan can help pull fumes out as well. But mostly I don’t use anything particularly nasty to finish my projects. The strongest fume producing solvents or finishes that I use in my shop are alcohol (for shellac) and turpentine (for thinning oils & varnishes).

      I don’t find the odor from shellac particularly strong or offensive, and the fumes from the alcohol are harmless, disipate quickly and don’t really spread through the house. I just keep a window open when using shellac. Turpentine fumes are much heavier and tend to hang around longer, so I try to either use oils without thinning, use the turpentine outside, or put a window fan in to pull the fumes out. This seems to do the trick, though on rare occasions a waft of turpentine may find its way into the house. Still, while the odor isn’t all that pleasant, turpentine fumes are pretty harmless as long as you aren’t closed in a sealed room with them.

      The rest of the finishes I typically use are natural oils & oil/varnish blends that don’t contain harsh solvents or driers (e.g. tried & true), long oil varnishes (e.g. spar) and water based milk paints. None of these finishes really contain nasty volatiles or are particularly bad smelling, so working near an open window is typically all that is necessary.

      I don’t use laquer of any kind and I don’t spray, so I don’t have those concerns.

  2. With my new, fairly mobile, spring pole lathe, I find myself treadling out on the porch quite a bit. And easy cleanup–sweep the shavings and chips into the flower bed for instant mulch. The weather has been great for it, but once winter comes, I’ll be back in the basement. If I had the space for a spare bedroom with a nice window, I think that would be ideal–provided I could safely cover the baseboards up so they didn’t gather plane shavings and mortise chips.

  3. Agreed on all points. My shop is very similar to yours. It has vents with no returns and I never see wood dust in the filter. My biggest problem is hammer/mallet noise waking the children in the next room. 😦

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