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How serious do you get about dust protection

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I try (stress try) to use nose and mouth covering when sawing and sanding. I hook a Shop Vac hose up to my equipment.


I'm just shy of 70, and my wind isn't what it used to be and I've always wondered if I am doing enough.


I have a friend who has an entire outbuilding devoted to his wood pursuits, and he has a complete dust system. Obviously, I doubt if us part time modelers need such equipment, but I'm curious what others do.



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Dust control in my model shop is limited to a small shop vac that hooks directly to my bench tools as I use them.  Unfortunately, my tool dust ports are not sized consistently:huh:, so I am currently making some custom fittings for each of them.:angry:  I just picked up an I-socket 110m Tool and Vacuum Switch for about $35.  You insert the switch into any standard outlet, plug your vacuum into the vacuum outlet and your tool into the other one.  When you turn on your tool, the vacuum also will start and stay on for 7 seconds after your tool turns off to clear the dust out of the hose.:)  It saves you from having to remind yourself "dust  bad, vacuum good".:D



“You’ve just got to know your limitations”  Dirty Harry

Current Builds:  Modified MS 1/8” scale Phantom, and modified plastic/wood hybrid of Aurora 1:87 scale whaling bark Wanderer.

Past Builds: (Done & sold) 1/8” scale A.J. Fisher 2 mast schooner Challenge, 1/6” scale scratch built whaler Wanderer w/ plans & fittings from A.J. Fisher, and numerous plastic kits including 1/8” scale Revell U.S.S. Constitution (twice), Cutty Sark, and Mayflower.

                  (Done & in dry dock) Modified 1/8” scale Revell U.S.S. Constitution w/ wooden deck and masting [too close encounter w/conc. floor in move]

Hope to get to builds: MS 3/16” scale Pride of Baltimore II,  MS 1/2” scale pinky schooner Glad Tidings,  a scratch build 3/16” scale  Phantom, and a scratch build 3/16" scale Denis Sullivan.

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I do what Dave does... just move the shop vac as needed.  As for sanding on the model... I have a room (portable:  Holmes System from Home Depot) that I run.  Not perfect but it keeps the admiral happy and the dust out of the rest of the house.

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans                             Triton Cross-Section   

                                                                                                                       USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War  _(Gallery) Build Log

                                                                                Wasa (Gallery)

                                                                                                                        HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



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Hey Bigcreekdad, you may have developed a mild case of asthma.  I am your age and to my big surprise, a recent lung function test indicated mild asthma!!!  I suspect breathing wood dust caused this as I do not smoke.  I have been working wood for over 60 years so that is a lot of accumulation.  One of my brothers also works wood and has developed an allergy to mahogany.   And some of the woods we modelers use is toxic.  Dust masks do not work for me, and I do not like the dust covering everything plus getting into the house, so collection is a must.  Dust bad, collection good.


I also use a dust collector and vacuums in my shop.  The vacuum is hooked to the machines as I use them.  Since the collector and vacuums can not capture all the dust, especially from the top of the 10" table saw blade, I am considering an air filter to hang from the ceiling.   Heavy hand and portable belt sanding is done outside, even during the winter here in Connecticut, USA.   Light sanding at the bench is OK, but I often use a small fan on the right side of the bench to blow the dust away from me (I am right dominate).   Some modelers have a vacuum system on their bench but I tried that and found it in my way too often.


There are extensive discussions on this forum regarding dust control and wood toxicity; just type your topic into the search box.        Duff 

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Taking it very seriously - sometimes I was getting a sour throat and some coughing after sanding pear. Plus a layer of fine dust around the "workshop" (which is in the corner of the living room). Being in the corner also means that the airflow and natural ventilation is quite bad. During a summer I am trying to sand on a balcony, but that is not always possible. 


So I started using medium level respirator masks, they do make a difference: http://www.axminster.co.uk/jsp-typhoon-fold-flat-valved-respirators-ax956169

But then I also bought a vac. Not a shop vac (these beasts are ungodly loud, my neighbours will be really upset), but a decent household grade vac with a "silence" in its name: https://www.clasohlson.com/se/Dammsugare-Bosch-GL-40-ProSilence-BGL4SIL69D/44-1868

To make sure that neighbours are not disturbed - I typically put it on an anti-vibration rubber mat.


It works great! The power is more than enough for all my tools, and I rarely crank it up to maximum (because of the noise when the airflow goes through a small dust port in some proxxon tools). It typically runs on some medium speed. 

After a year of active use, there is no sign of dust getting inside the vac mechanisms - it is clean as new, everything is trapped in a bag and HEPA filter.

The bag lasts for quite a long time - most of the volume is taken by shavings from planer or hand planing, and these I usually swipe away and vaccuum what's left. The main job if the vac is to capture a fine dust that would otherwise end up everywhere in the room and inside your lungs. So far I only used three bags, which is nothing.

Since it is quiet - I always use it while sanding, just placing the vac hose next to the piece. The airflow is very good, and all that nasty tiny particles are sucked right in. 5a1d2306b8231_Foto2017-04-03210955.thumb.jpg.a066797f5f08a84d1a2d4e1d487c23a0.jpg






This year I was also doing a lot of small-scale woodworking, cutting a lot of wood on a maximum capacity of my tools. That produced way more dust then cutting tiny bits for the model. And the vac shows no sign of issues.

Also I forgot the last time I wiped the dust from the surfaces around the table. There is no fine dust in the air anymore. 


So do we really need a shop vac, if we are talking about ship modelling? :) Sounds more like a tradition, or a bad experience with cheap vacs that overheat and die after 30min of running. Modern household vacs are doing the same job, while being smaller and way quieter.


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Well Mike, it all depends. 


Some of the woods we use are toxic such as ebony, beech, mahogany, obeche, cocobolo and MDF - medium density fiberboard.  There are many more but these typically show up on this forum.  Some people develop allergies to non toxic woods, which are now toxic to them.  Be cautious with walnut, beech and pine.  All wood with fungus are toxic, such a spalted maple and wood not seasoned properly which shows as blue mold.  (MDF is a bonded wood material.)  If you are allergic to aspirin, then avoid willow and birch.


So the short answer is YES, we should collect all dust. 


And Mike, I am impressed that can make decent models in your small work space! 

BTW, your city is most beautiful and vibrant; I'd like to visit again sometime.  


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From the pictures,  there seems to be a very important component missing:


The plus added to your vac system by having a passive cyclone dust separator inline

is difficult to over state.  Very little reaches the body of the vac.  I too have an Oneida

Dust Deputy.  I got one on sale, but it is worth list.

An RCV switch - garage door type unit to turn on power to the vac - is very handy.

NRG member 45 years



HMS Centurion 1732 - 60-gun 4th rate - Navall Timber framing

HMS Beagle 1831 refiit  10-gun brig with a small mizzen - Navall (ish) Timber framing

The U.S. Ex. Ex. 1838-1842
Flying Fish 1838  pilot schooner -  framed - ready for stern timbers
Porpose II  1836  brigantine/brig - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers
Vincennes  1825  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers assembled, need shaping
Peacock  1828  Sloop-of -War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Sea Gull  1838  pilot schooner -  timbers ready for assembly
Relief  1835  ship - timbers ready for assembly


Portsmouth  1843  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Le Commerce de Marseilles  1788   118 cannons - framed

La Renommee 1744 Frigate - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers


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Here's my homebrew HEPA system that needs ~1 square foot of floor space.  From bottom to top: 5 gallon collection bucket, shopbuilt cyclone, bucket-head vac with a HEPA filter.  It's attached to the wall for structural integrity and stability, and it has a very slinky 12' hose to reach around the place.   The only thing that I would add, is to make a sound-muffling enclosure. 


Here's a description of it:   http://www.mimf.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=3467&p=33108&hilit=cyclone#p33108


Edited by Bob Blarney
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Cedar dust is my nemesis. I have been to the emergency room twice because of it with severe breathing issues. Figured out what was causing the issues after the second trip. I now wear a mask and I use a shop installed vacuum system with a cyclone separator. The issue as stated previously is that the ports on our hobby machines are not a standard shop machine size. People ALWAYS accuse me of having my shop “too clean”, even the photos I posted on the forum had the same quotes. You can’t be to clean when it comes to good dust management. I usually vacuum the surrounding area when I complete a cutting job. I worked in the Ordnance field for over  45 years and being clean and tidy is just second nature.


Jim Rogers


Damn the Torpedoes , Full speed ahead.   Adm David Farragut.

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As a cardiovascular physiologist and former med school research prof, I'll say generally that there's a few things to keep in mind.  From a mechanical aspect, the respiratory tract can deal with most of the visible dust that you can see - it's the very fine dust in the micron range that is dangerous in the long run.  That said, the chemical nature of the dust may cause problems - e.g. the irritant in cedars (mentioned above) is common, and many exotic species (such as cocobolo) are potentially hazardous.  They may trigger a mild or a serious allergic response on the first exposure or any exposure thereafter, and so it's better to reduce exposure and control dust as much as possible. 

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If I'm just running a short length of wood through the bandsaw for a few seconds, I don't bother.
If it's a longer job, with potentially lots of dust, I might put on a single-use face mask.  I have got some!
I've got a vacuum cleaner in the workshop, and it does fit easily to my woodworking machinery, but I weigh the noise nuisance and the setting-up nuisance against the probable potential lung (etc) damage.  And, well, sorry, but I just can't make myself get all that anxious about the danger I'm putting myself into.
It's not as though I make a living sawing up wood five days a week.  And if I'm painting, I don't sit there avidly sniffing up the fumes from the thinners.  It's a hobby.  I do this stuff occasionally.  Some days I don't do it at all.


I do realise that some people are susceptible to the danger of an allergic response.  Experience tells me I'm not one of them, so I feel it's OK for me to have such a cavalier attitude to the danger posed by potentially irritating dust.  I suppose I'm like your typical 80-year-old, 30-a-day smoker who says his habit hasn't done him any harm...


Apologies everyone - I’ve accepted that I’m OLD.  I’ve put down my tools and immersed myself in  activities that don’t require me to work in a cold, outdoor workshop!   I now do other things, but I do still look in to MSW.  And sometimes I comment!  When I die, I’ll let you all know!

Abandoned build: - Occre's "Spirit of Mississippi" riverboat.

Previous builds - La Petite Nella (aka AL's Mare Nostrum);  Anastasia (1:12 scratch-built sailing kayak);  USS Enterprise (Constructo);  Half Moon (Corel);  Lt Bligh's Bounty Launch (Model Shipways); Silhouet (1893 Dutch Barge)(Constructo)Mephisto (aka Constructo's 'Le Camaret' lobster boat)

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I think that exposure to hazardous amounts of wood dust is minimal in building models.  It's probably more of a nuisance than danger, if no pre-existing sensitivity is known.    A bit of mindfulness about what you're doing, what you're cutting, and how to prevent inhalation of dust, and then how to tidy up will usually suffice.  

Edited by Bob Blarney
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Maybe that’s an argument against the sanding thicknesser versus the planing thicknesser?


Apologies everyone - I’ve accepted that I’m OLD.  I’ve put down my tools and immersed myself in  activities that don’t require me to work in a cold, outdoor workshop!   I now do other things, but I do still look in to MSW.  And sometimes I comment!  When I die, I’ll let you all know!

Abandoned build: - Occre's "Spirit of Mississippi" riverboat.

Previous builds - La Petite Nella (aka AL's Mare Nostrum);  Anastasia (1:12 scratch-built sailing kayak);  USS Enterprise (Constructo);  Half Moon (Corel);  Lt Bligh's Bounty Launch (Model Shipways); Silhouet (1893 Dutch Barge)(Constructo)Mephisto (aka Constructo's 'Le Camaret' lobster boat)

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If I have to saw or sand a lot. Then I work outside
The disadvantage is that in winter the shipyard is usually "closed"

I wear safety goggles, dust mask and ear protection


Regards, Patrick


Finished :  Soleil Royal Heller 1/100   Wasa Billing Boats   Bounty Revell 1/110 plastic (semi scratch)   Pelican / Golden Hind  1/45 scratch

Current build :  Mary Rose 1/50 scratch

Gallery Revell Bounty  Pelican/Golden hind 1/45 scratch

To do Prins Willem Corel, Le Tonnant Corel, Yacht d'Oro Corel


Shore leave,  non ship models build logs :  

ADGZ M35 funkwagen 1/72    Einhets Pkw. Kfz.2 and 4 1/72   Autoblinda AB40 1/72   122mm A-19 & 152mm ML-20 & 12.8cm Pak.44 {K8 1/2} 1/72   10.5cm Howitzer 16 on Mark. VI(e)  Centurion Mk.1 conversion   M29 Weasel 1/72     SAM6 1/72    T26 Finland  T26 TN 1/72  Autoprotetto S37 1/72     Opel Blitz buses 1/72  Boxer and MAN trucks 1/72

Shore leave,  time consuming projects :

a new bathroom


Si vis pacem, para bellum

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Mask for sure.  When using power tools then eye and ear protection.  My little workshop is actually my regular office as well so I really need to keep the dust down as all my books and computers etc are in there too.  One day I dream of a system where all my machines are connected up to a tube system which runs through the wall to a collector/shopvac in the other room which has remote on/off functionality.  


Shipwrights of Central Ohio


Current Build: ...

Completed Builds: Queen Anne Barge - SyrenPinnace - MSHalifax 1768 - LSSMurrelet - PygmySwift 1805 - AL 

Future Builds: Surly (because i'm definitely not so Cheerful), Echo cross-section.....


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Power tools produce the greatest and finest airborne dust, and I've started to avoid their use whenever possible.  For dimensioning larger boards into smaller stock for model building, hand sawing and hand planing are efficient enough once the techniques are learned, and actually can be quite enjoyable.  There's some physical exercise, and it's possible to listen to music or radio discussions, and work at any hour of the day or night.  Hand tools do not blow dust everywhere, are less expensive to buy, do not need many replaceable parts and maintenance, and do not occupy a large amount of bench and floor space.  Also, hand planing produces a better surface than sanding as well. What's not to like?    



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I will always remember Portia Takakjian, the noted and talented researcher, illustrator, author and modeler died at the age of 61. I believe it was from emphysema. I was told, some time back, toxic wood dust may have been a contributor. Just google the web for the lists on wood toxicity, they are out there. I am particularly sensitive to this danger as my mother died of the same affliction at an early age. She worked in a fabric mill in her early years when there was no OSHA compliance.


Most wood dust of 1 micron or less particle size gets into lungs and can create havoc and disease. It is always advisable to wear a dust mask or respirator and to collect the saw dust. Most dust collection systems now advertise particle capture in the one micron range. Whether that is true or not I do not know. In addition my shop as well as many others is in the basement and the house air is conditioned by heated/cooled air. It is so easy for those particles to make it into the HVAC through duct voids etc. and that ends up in the living area. So the long and short of it is take saw dust control seriously.



Edited by Thistle17
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Dust collection is a very important part of our hobby. Take it as seriously as you can. Back when I started doing this hobby, 

I was in my late forties , no mask, dust collection etc. The only dust collection was what was on my clothes, hair and nose.

After some very heavy  periods of sawing and sanding I had two severe allergic reactions that required steroids, inhalers etc.

This is when I started to get more serious about dust collection.


I first added a Oneida Dust Deputy to my shop vac. I connected to a switch that turns the vacuum on and off when you turn on your tool. 






I feed the hose through my work bench and attach it to whichever tool I will be using.




I also noticed that there were many times that despite the shop vac not all dust is collected.

Seeing I have the room I added a ceiling mounted JET air filtration system. I hung it near the

basement window and direct vented it to the outside to ensure dust was not recycled back into the shop. 




Now with all this in place I found one more area that I was failing in my efforts. While at the work bench when we're

fairing a hull or sanding the planking there was no tool hooked up so the shop vac captured very little of the dust.

The JET captured what was in the air but the dust was all around me on it's way to the JET. To help eliminate this I

made one more collection method. I used to have a home made portable down draft box. I dissembled the top,

marked the hole pattern on a section of the workbench, drilled the holes and mounted the base under the workbench.

Now I can hook the shop vac to it and sand over the vents and most of the dust is sucked down and collected.

What little that gets airborne is taken care of by the JET. 








Of course I use a face mask with replaceable filters too.




Now that I've shown you how I handle dust collection I must add the disclaimer that I too am lazy sometimes and

don't use every dust capture item in my collection every time I cut one little piece or sand one little spot. I do try to use 

them as much as possible especially when working on something that creates more than a minimal amount of dust. 


I hope this helps!


"So Long For Now" B) 


Current Builds: HMS Winchelsea 1/48  Duchess of Kingston


Completed Build Logs: USF Confederacy , US Brig Syren , Triton Cross Section , Bomb Vessel Cross SectionCutter CheerfulQueen Anne Barge, Medway Longboat


Completed Build Gallery: Brig Syren , 1870 Mississippi Riverboat , 1949 Chris-Craft 19' Runabout


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Hmm, the downdraft table sounds like a great idea! Thanks Rusty, off to make some sketches, will try to integrate it into my table top. Be right back! :)

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That was a great response Rusty! I have not had a reaction like yours but I am not surprised by what happened to you. When I am working on any wood milling projects big or small and I start sneezing it is a warning for me. Case in point I bought some BNM(Bud Nosen Models) mahogany for the project I am working on. It is not like any mahogany I know and it has a weird smell when cutting, almost perfume like. It too was a warning to me to be careful.


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This thread started while my wife and I were recovering from bad colds.  Although the colds resulted from a Thanksgiving visit to our grandkids, they did highlight the importance of resporatory health.


I have been using power tools for 50 years and grew up in a house where my Dad used them.  In fact after his marriage my Dad designed and produced model airplane kits to supplement his income during the depression. According to my father they were kicked out of the house that they rented because of the volume of dust produced by sawing up rough cut balsa wood into strip stock. (Making model airplane cement by dissolving cellulose plastic in acetone did not help their case either.)


Over the years, I have made half hearted attempts to control dust.  I bought a good shop vac and I have one of those suspended Jet air cleaners.  Neither is very satisfactory for serious dust removal from operating power tools.  The problem is that  dust quickly plugs up the filters, and it seems that whenever I want to use this equipment I don’t have the filters.


looking at the equipment above it appears that all of them feature some sort of separation device before the shop vac and according to the internet reasonably priced cyclone separators are now available. Using the shop vac to provide the vacuum in conjunction with a separation device to remove the big chunks before they can plug up the filter appears to be the key.  My next shop upgrade.




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I use a small vacuum when working and keep a HEPA air cleaner running continuously (it's pretty quiet on the lowest setting, still tolerable on the higher ones). 


Even this tiny air purifier has helped quite a bit, however I've yet to graduate to any significant power tools.




Edited by Ben752
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  • 7 months later...

I highly recommend you all read Bill Pentz's page. The danger ( he asserts,) is from invisible airborne dust that is both very difficult to capture and potentially very dangerous. It's produced anytime we cut or sand wood. Because we can't see it, we tend to disregard it.

His advice and mine is to buy a good face ask and use it.

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  • 2 months later...

Sitting here in a hotel room on my southern US road trip I can’t stop checking this site and thinking about my favourite hobby. Reviving an old thread about dust extraction I thought I’d post a couple of pictures of my main machines bench extraction system. A Festool vac with hepa filter pulls sawdust through these gated ports. Turning any machine on triggers the Festool. I just have to remember to open and close the correct gate. 😉





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On 11/27/2017 at 8:25 AM, bigcreekdad said:

I try (stress try) to use nose and mouth covering when sawing and sanding. I hook a Shop Vac hose up to my equipment.


I'm just shy of 70, and my wind isn't what it used to be and I've always wondered if I am doing enough.


I have a friend who has an entire outbuilding devoted to his wood pursuits, and he has a complete dust system. Obviously, I doubt if us part time modelers need such equipment, but I'm curious what others do.



Well honestly, I almost never use protection and after reading this article I think that may be the cause of my twitching! But seriously, I only really use a respirator/mask when I spray anything and I have been lax at times with that. I make mahogany RC runabouts all the time and didnt know mahogany was toxic. I spray urethane in a poorly vented garage especially if its wet outside. I have a workbench where my dining room table should be and sand inside at times (and yes I am single at the moment!). I will admit that sometimes after a good bout of sanding I sneeze mahogany colored compressed wood pellets. At this point I have been doing this so long I am not sure if its too late or not!

So kids, dont do what I do and use PROTECTION! (twitch twitch)

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