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Avoid Toxic Gick when Woodworking

 
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Hi Woodworking friends,
What are the "rules to live by" when woodworking to avoid contact with "toxic gick"?
Goal: Minimize exposure to chemical hazards to humans while enjoying this great hobby of working with wood.

For example, I only use 100% natural oils when finishing my wood projects (walnut, tung, or raw linseed oil), but can I be sure that even those are not toxic to humans?
I enjoy hand-tool woodworking especially for bow-making. However, some projects require wood glues or hide glues.
How do you minimize exposure to VOCs of liquid products like glues or finishes?
In another case, I have some pieces of Yew wood that I'd like to work for my new bow build project, but the idea of Yew's toxicity holds me back from continuing the project.
Another, I hear certain woods like cedar can be allergenic or extended use of cedar overtime can create an allergy to it.
Lastly, a general rule I follow is , avoid using pressure treated lumber due to chemicals in the processing.

Can you share some guidelines that you set for yourself when woodworking?

I'm mainly asking about avoiding any toxicity, as opposed to woodworking safety precautions like how to use certain power tools.
I welcome your tips and tricks!
 
steward
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I don't have much info in the finishing department other than to put shellac on the list.  I'm not sure if it's good but some portion of it comes from natural materials.

The thing I came here to say is to wear a dust mask or respirator.  Most of my wood working is with red oak.  I was fine with the dust for years and now it really bugs me.  So over time you can develop an issue with some wood dusts.  I'm not sure if they're toxic but it's kind of like that...

You can avoid a lot of glues by using different joinery techniques.  Pegs, locked dovetails, nails, etc.

Oh, and plywood and OSB have plenty of glues in them that you probably want to avoid.
 
pollinator
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You mentioned cedar allergies.  Yes, it can become a thing.  My dad was a carpenter for 50+ years.  During that time a lot of houses were sided with cedar lap siding.  He never had a problem with it until he did.  It really started giving him trouble after a long time (decades) of cutting it.  He would have what seemed to be spring time allergies any time he cut a lot of it.  Congestion, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, stopped up nose etc.  A dust mask pretty much solved the problem with the exception of occasional bouts of sneezing and some sniffles.  He finally stopped working with it though.
 
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For glues, there are many options with more or less VOC in them. It depends a lot on how the glue works:
Some dry by evaporating a solvent … which you breathe in, mask or not.

There are Polyvinyl acetate glues with low VOC content available.

Personally I am a big fan of epoxy, as it creates reliable bonds to almost everything (including skin!). Some release a low amount of VOCs and can be used without ventilation.
 
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Hey there,
As a young carpenter, that wants to be an old carpenter, my go to is-
If it's dusty, wear a mask. Particularly with anything that is rot resistant(Cedar, yew, tropical hardwoods, etc.) PT and cement fiberboard require a proper mask.
If it smells bad, wear a respirator. VOCs will make you sick quick. The lower VOC products can by used in well ventilated areas pretty safely.
Wear gloves when finishing, your skin is the biggest organ, and touching your face, going to the bathroom, etc can spread whatever you're working with. Same goes with PT lumber.
Most wood/hide glues are pretty innocuous, but the other stuff they put in osb/ply is there because it kills things. Epoxy and other synthetics may require a respirator.
Keep it safe and keep cutting!
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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