26 votes
Accepted

Is working with MDF going to kill me?

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 ...
  • 20.1k
22 votes
Accepted

Which solvents can be stored in which plastics? -- is there an organic chemist in the house?

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 ...
  • 12.1k
19 votes

What are some safe finishes for indoor projects likely to be chewed on by a young child or infant?

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 ...
  • 707
15 votes
Accepted

What kind of wood dust is toxic/dangerous and requires usage of dust mask?

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 ...
  • 18.6k
14 votes
Accepted

What types of food-safe finishes work best for protecting wood that will be outdoors?

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 ...
  • 1,762
12 votes

What types of food-safe finishes work best for protecting wood that will be outdoors?

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 ...
  • 835
12 votes
Accepted

What common woods produce the safest/most harmful dust?

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 ...
  • 20.1k
9 votes

What kind of wood dust is toxic/dangerous and requires usage of dust mask?

@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 ...
  • 4,166
9 votes

What are some safe finishes for indoor projects likely to be chewed on by a young child or infant?

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 ...
8 votes

What kind of wood dust is toxic/dangerous and requires usage of dust mask?

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 ...
  • 15.1k
8 votes
Accepted

What are some safe finishes for indoor projects likely to be chewed on by a young child or infant?

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....
  • 1,927
8 votes

Can wood dust cause irritation to other people in the house?

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 ...
  • 20.1k
7 votes

Food safe potting/knot filling compound

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....
  • 12.1k
7 votes

What are some safe finishes for indoor projects likely to be chewed on by a young child or infant?

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 ...
  • 835
7 votes

What types of food-safe finishes work best for protecting wood that will be outdoors?

"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 ...
  • 667
7 votes
Accepted

Safety when working Tasmanian Blackwood

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 ...
  • 15.1k
6 votes
Accepted

Is it safe (for the animals) to use pressure treated wood for animal feeders and houses?

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 ...
  • 18.6k
6 votes

Food safe potting/knot filling compound

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 ...
  • 59.8k
6 votes
Accepted

What type(s) of glue can I use on wooden kitchen utensils and devices?

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 ...
  • 18.6k
6 votes

What common woods produce the safest/most harmful dust?

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. ...
  • 15.1k
6 votes

What kind of wood dust is toxic/dangerous and requires usage of dust mask?

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. ...
  • 5,384
6 votes

Large hole filler products, what is available

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 ...
  • 59.8k
6 votes

What are the best substitutes when nothing labelled as "Denatured alcohol" can be found in your area?

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 ...
  • 1,597
5 votes
Accepted

Tips for recognizing aged pressure treated wood

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 ...
  • 3,648
5 votes

What types of food-safe finishes work best for protecting wood that will be outdoors?

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, ...
  • 1,176
5 votes

What are some safe finishes for indoor projects likely to be chewed on by a young child or infant?

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 ...
5 votes
Accepted

Is cedar dangerous for your health when used in indoor furniture?

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 ...
  • 164
4 votes

Is there a canonical source for retrieving Material Safety Data Sheets?

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 ...
  • 18.6k
4 votes

Safety when working Tasmanian Blackwood

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 ...
  • 5,384
4 votes

Can anyone offer guidance on heating with wood waste from the shop?

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, ...
  • 59.8k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible