23

Is working MDF bad for your health? Yes but only if you are ignorant of your tools and materials. It certainly can be. However the answer of "Yes" is misleading as the concerns surrounding MDF are more than just the potential presence of hazards such as the release formaldehyde. Working MDF creates dust particles much like any other wood. It is true ...


18

Per @ratchet-freak's suggestion, I looked up "food-safe finishes". Options include: Pure tung oil. Extracted from the nut of the china wood tree. Used as a base in many blended finishes. Available from catalogs and hardware stores. Difficult to apply, requires many coats, good water-resistance. Raw linseed oil. Pressed from flax seeds. Not to be confused ...


17

A quick google search found me this website, which has a nifty compatibility chart that I've attached below. Cole-Parmer has a very comprehensive compatibility chart for many solvents (organic or otherwise). For some common solvents, I've summarized some info from Cole-Parmer: Turpentine is no good for ABS plastic, brass, EPDM, LDPE, rubber, neoprene, and ...


15

I've a dust mask but I wonder if it worth wearing it when working on pine wood. I do wear it when working a piece oak or beech. First off, let's be clear: a disposable paper dust mask may be slightly better than nothing, but even a fancy $5 disposable P100 dust mask with a breathing valve will not perform as well as a properly-fitted respirator with ...


13

There are two substances that instantly come to mind: Wax (paraffin or beeswax) Mineral Oil I use both of these to protect my wood butcher block. They are both food safe, non-reactive and even relatively inexpensive. They will alter the appearance of the wood, by making it more lustrous. I have even seen some people finish their butcher blocks with hot ...


11

I do not know what wood is common in Portland. Common woods will differ between locales. If you have lung issues then I would imagine you should't be working unknown woods. If you are fortunate enough to know the wood you are working then I would refer to the Wood-Database as it has an extensive database with details about "Allergies and Toxicities" for ...


11

For garden boxes, most of the rotting will come from the inside, not the outside. As such, the best protecting substance is probably plastic. You will not be able to reapply waxes or oils on the inside (unless you're planning to remove the dirt regularly, which you could do); a plastic liner will last longer than those by years. Of course, you need a food-...


9

I would say shellac. It's heavily used in the pharmaceutical industry to coat pills. It's an excellent all around finish, but it not's incredibly durable. My next choice would be mineral oil and bee's wax. You really can't go wrong with either of these choices.


9

@bowlturner and @rob gave some excellent responses and I'll add a couple of thoughts: Remember there's a big difference between collecting chips and collecting dust. "Dust collectors" are often good at collecting chips, but allow the fine dust to escape. What that means is that you can have a visibly dust-free shop and still have major dust problems. You ...


8

Yes it could Please read on though It is important to know that correlation does not equal causation. That is to say that what your husband is doing might be a coincidence as to your symptoms. However both of those woods listed are known irritants that could cause allergy like assumptions. Wood dust and dust in general are known irritants that can trigger ...


8

Would you consider cutting some wood species wood without mask safe ? I do all the time. However, I also have a dust collection system and 2 different kinds of face masks that I also use. Exposure makes a difference. Some people are susceptible to different things vs. others. Do you use mask with every wood species ? For me two things make a ...


8

Some unfinished woods can be toxic: http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/wood-allergies-and-toxicity. Any commercially available finish will have a publicly available material safety data sheet. Just google "finish MSDS." Bob Flexner devotes a section of Understanding Wood Finishing to food grade finishes. According to him, these "salad bowl finishes"...


7

I would certainly finish the crib with something. It will take a lot of abuse, particularly if it's used by more than one child, and some of that abuse will be (as you note) chewing/etc., which will introduce moisture and other damaging things. It also will be more vulnerable to splintering, which will be painful for your child if it occurs. The main ...


7

Sawdust in general is very bad for your health. The smaller bits that float around (especially from sanding) become little particles that act just like asbestos, they can get into the alveoli and damage them. So right there is a good reason to have a dust mask and/or a good dust collection system. There are many woods that have toxicity on top of the ...


6

all epoxies are food safe once fully cured This may be an overstatement. Food-safe epoxies do exist. In order to be considered "food-safe," the ingredients need to meet FDA CFR 175.105 & 175.300 (in the United States, at least). McMaster-Carr has some for sale. Permabond makes some. West Systems, another well-known epoxy maker, specifically states ...


6

For reference regarding toxicity, http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/wood-allergies-and-toxicity/ is a pretty good resource, but as with any allergy, some people are more allergic than others. Bear in mind it's not just toxic particles that are dangerous; for example, bakers are known to have health complications from inhaling flour. In general, if ...


6

PVA glues such as Titebond are generally non-toxic and are considered safe enough to use in cutting boards, butcher blocks, and other food-safe applications. Be sure to read the label to confirm that the specific PVA glue you plan to use is, indeed, non-toxic. Hide glue is non-toxic but as you mentioned, the glue bond can be broken with heat--a feature that ...


6

Personally, I wouldn't feel right using pressure treated wood for a birdhouse or bird feeder. Several gardening websites even recommend against using pressure-treated boards for garden boxes because the chemicals can leech into the soil and could be absorbed by any edible plants you're growing. I imagine these chemicals could also leech into birdfood (as in ...


6

"Food-safe" finishes are generally those used on surfaces that will be in direct contact with food, such as butcher blocks, salad bowls, etc. For outdoor use, any good tough outdoor finish should be fine. As long as you put on thin coats and allow them to fully cure before putting on the next coat, you shouldn't have to worry about anything leaching into the ...


6

I would use filled epoxy for this, it's probably the best thing going as it's very tough, bonds very firmly to the wood and can be extremely cheap. Possibly best of all you make as much as you need when you need it without any worries of buying more of a product than a single project needs and having the rest go off sitting on the shelf Once fully set ...


6

I've found two products readily available in BC that one might not suspect to be denatured alcohol, but despite not having "denatured alcohol" written anywhere on the product, they are denatured alcohol. BioFlame: 95.6% ethanol, and 4.40% ethyl acetate. LV Lacquer Thinner: 91% ethanol, 4% butanol, %4 isopropanol. I'm not a chemist (please step in if you ...


5

Most typical wood finishes are safe ONCE CURED. Here is a somewhat relevant article by Bob Flexner http://www.woodcentral.com/articles/finishing/articles_497a.shtml. Once cured a drying type finish, varnish or paint, will not leach into the ground. Since this will be exposed to direct sunlight use an outdoor product, either paint or opaque stain. The only ...


5

There are several soy based paints available on the market. I have had good results with the Durasoy brand. While Soy based paints start with a non-toxic foundation, additives can change that, so you will want to check what is in the specific brand/type you choose. Leaving the wood untreated is also an option. Research on plastic vs wood cutting boards ...


5

Adding to Matt's answer, all sawdust is bad for your lungs. Some is just worse than others. It is the small particles that get in them and cause physical damage, very similar to how asbestos works. After that you get woods that have different chemicals that can cause different reactions. The wood-database does have a list of woods and their 'danger' ...


4

Any wood left untreated and allowed to weather will eventually turn gray. In the days before pressure treated lumber was prominent, people stained or painted their decks and other outdoor projects to protect them from rot and graying. With the advent of pressure treating, the advice and common practice became to "let it weather naturally". Determine the ...


4

Personally I'm of the belief that epoxies are safe for direct food contact (once fully cured) without specific information to the contrary, based on basic principles. That's not to say I would use any old epoxy as a surfacing for something like a drinking vessel, but I'd be perfectly happy with virtually any commercial wood finish for incidental food contact....


4

I'm not sure if it's required by law, but many companies make their MSDSes publicly available for free. For example: http://www.titebond.com/ProductMSDSCO.php http://msds.gp.com/msdsinternet/?bu=bp In addition, some resellers provide the MSDSes for products they sell: http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/material-safety-datasheets-msds.aspx You can also ...


4

It's impossible to say, really. You may be allergic to a wood that another person isn't. For most woods they're little more than mild irritants. Walnut doesn't bother me for example, but Wenge makes me break out in a horrible rash akin to poison ivy that lasts for weeks. At a minimum you should wear a dust mask for ANY wood . I got so bad with wenge that I ...


4

You don't have to further process the waste wood you describe to make it a usable fuel, it's already in a form that will burn quite well :-) In essence if it'll fit in your stove you can burn it, although you can create pellets or bricks from chips/dust/shavings to help slow burning and maximise heat output. From reading around it would appear that most ...


3

Here is a link to a wood-allergy database. Two main things about wood allergens are stated: All inhaled wood dust is hazardous to your long-term health. This chart simply lists specific woods that can aggravate symptoms through allergic reactions, or woods that are outright toxic in and of themselves. However, all woods produce fine dust when worked, ...


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