Bonsai carving, wood allergies, and safety

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Bonsai carving, wood allergies, and safety

Post  Poink88 on Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:13 pm

In my past life I used to do some woodworking (carving and turning), a fashion I loved but sadly have to give up due to allergies. In search to fill this hobby void, I ended with bonsai...I like plants anyway and love wood too. Of course, as faith will have it...I am drawn to dead wood and most likely carving. This post is about some lessons learned from my other hobby that might help others in bonsai.

Safety. It is very important to keep all your digits but more importantly to continuously see, hear and breath. Power tools can help us but some forget that with the speed comes a few other things we have to watch out for.
- Sound is one of them, wear ear protection when possible.
- Flying debris can hurt your eyes fast, wearing goggles or better yet, face shield always.
- When grinding...the tiny wood particles float and can enter your lungs. Wear respirators or at least a surgical mask when grinding. Face shield is NOT an alternate to respirator unless you are wearing a full mask. Wink

Other safety equipment we might need is gloves. I am very tactile and love to touch and feel what I am working on but there are times when gloves need to be used. Be reminded that not all materials are created equal. Beware of woven gloves whose fibers can be snagged by the power tool. They are fine otherwise for other tasks.

With the use of exotic plants comes different toxins and sensitizers. They might not affect you now but some build up overtime. This is what happened to me and developed eczema. It flares up whenever I touch certain type of wood.

Clean up, dusts can settle a few feet away from your work place. They can stay floating for hours as well if you are in an enclosed location or cling to your skin and clothes. Wash, bathe and change clothes ASAP. The longer your exposure is, the bigger the chance you can develop something nasty.

The good thing is that our body can flush some of these stuff away but prevention is better than curing later. Also some people are more resistant than others.

Edit in: Know and research about your bonsai toxicity before you start carving (actually before acquiring if possible). It might help you avoid any problems down the road for you, family, friends, and pets.

Hope this helps!!! There are a lot more info out there hope you can share yours.

Poink88
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Re: Bonsai carving, wood allergies, and safety

Post  Rob Kempinski on Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:44 pm

Poink88 wrote:In my past life I used to do some woodworking (carving and turning), a fashion I loved but sadly have to give up due to allergies. In search to fill this hobby void, I ended with bonsai...I like plants anyway and love wood too. Of course, as faith will have it...I am drawn to dead wood and most likely carving. This post is about some lessons learned from my other hobby that might help others in bonsai.

Safety. It is very important to keep all your digits but more importantly to continuously see, hear and breath. Power tools can help us but some forget that with the speed comes a few other things we have to watch out for.
- Sound is one of them, wear ear protection when possible.
- Flying debris can hurt your eyes fast, wearing goggles or better yet, face shield always.
- When grinding...the tiny wood particles float and can enter your lungs. Wear respirators or at least a surgical mask when grinding. Face shield is NOT an alternate to respirator unless you are wearing a full mask. Wink

Other safety equipment we might need is gloves. I am very tactile and love to touch and feel what I am working on but there are times when gloves need to be used. Be reminded that not all materials are created equal. Beware of woven gloves whose fibers can be snagged by the power tool. They are fine otherwise for other tasks.

With the use of exotic plants comes different toxins and sensitizers. They might not affect you now but some build up overtime. This is what happened to me and developed eczema. It flares up whenever I touch certain type of wood.

Clean up, dusts can settle a few feet away from your work place. They can stay floating for hours as well if you are in an enclosed location or cling to your skin and clothes. Wash, bathe and change clothes ASAP. The longer your exposure is, the bigger the chance you can develop something nasty.

The good thing is that our body can flush some of these stuff away but prevention is better than curing later. Also some people are more resistant than others.

Edit in: Know and research about your bonsai toxicity before you start carving (actually before acquiring if possible). It might help you avoid any problems down the road for you, family, friends, and pets.

Hope this helps!!! There are a lot more info out there hope you can share yours.

All very sound and practical points. Thanks for reaffirming the safety aspects of wood carving. It is frequently poo-pooed by pundits but it remains hazardous and safety precautions needed.

Rob Kempinski
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Re: Bonsai carving, wood allergies, and safety

Post  Poink88 on Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:00 pm

Thanks Rob.

I've had (forum) acquaintances who are suffering now because they neglected safety. When you are doing something you enjoy, it is easy to fall for this (ask smokers). Some took decades to get there but it got them and payback isn't fun. Most likely, there are countless other cases undocumented.

For those who collect trees or work with large trees...I forgot chainsaw which is arguably the most dangerous handheld tool available. Hearing protection, dust mask, eye protection or combo helmet/face shield, chaps, gloves, steel toed shoes, etc. are highly recommended. Check all safety features of the equipment as well before using.

Poink88
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Re: Bonsai carving, wood allergies, and safety

Post  JimLewis on Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:18 pm

As someone with severely impaired lungs, I always use a mask with filter when I'm working with my Dremel, working with chemicals, mowing the lawn/pasture, etc.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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