View Full Version : Cutting Through Rot and Discoloration in Oak, Any Danger from Dust?
06-09-2001, 08:47 AM
I have a question regarding the peculiar smell of sawdust from discolored areas of rot or fungus or whatever in red oak. I've just cut a lot of oak for a new project, and sometimes the dust smelled sweet, almost like fruit. It was when the blade sawed through dark areas. Could this dust be dangerous to health? It sure smells weird. Maybe a dust mask or even respirator are in order. Any advice or info would be appreciated. Thanks!
06-09-2001, 11:53 AM
I'm no expert, but I've always been told that any rot or fungus (like you find in spalted woods) are particularly dangerous. The spores can still be active and can wreak havoc with your lungs. The people I know that work a lot of this stuff always wear respirators, and my advice would be to do the same. Actually, wearing a mask or some type of protection is always a good idea when working wood. The times I've skipped wearing a mask, I'm always blowing sawdust out of my nose for a few days. Better safe than sorry.
06-10-2001, 05:38 AM
According to some web pages I've read on making barrels for wine aging, the appropriate white oak imparts a vanilla flavor to the wine. Perhaps related.
Also, have you tried hand sawing? Could reduce the exposure to dust considerably.
06-11-2001, 11:51 AM
Raven is absolutely correct. Wood dust is not good for you to be breathing in the first place however spalted wood has a higher risk factor. When I first began running a sawmill, before I began woodworking, I did not wear either a respirator or earmuffs. There was an article in a magazine the name of which I do not remember dealing with a very grave respiratory disease which was attributed to breathing spalted wood dust. What was very sobering was the editor's note that the author had died as the result of this disease before the magazine had gone to press. I thought I had bookmarked some information on breathing wood dust however I can only find this right now. http://www.city-net.com/albertfp/toxic.htm
06-11-2001, 06:21 PM
Joanne- I had to go hunting for this, and it's a bit cryptic, but if you take time to understand the 'key' printed at the bottom, it outlines most dangers of common wood species. It was originally from an old 'American Woodturner' magazine, reprinted by Jim LaRoche for the archives of rec.woodworking...
'Wood Toxicity', at: http://www.cs.rochester.edu/u/roche/rec.wood.misc/wood.toxic