Friday, August 13, 2010

What I've been up to

Good grief, it is hot. If you think I'm going to stand out in the sun right now and work in the garden, well then, you are just bat shit crazy. So forget about it for a while.

Instead, I've turned the fan on high in the shop, thrown open all the windows and doors, and worked on installing a wood dust collection system:

And while it was fun and I learned a lot, brothers and sisters, I never want to do it ever again. Never ever. I suppose it would have been easy enough if all I had done was run the duct work from the dust collector to all the machines, but nooooo. That's not good enough for Susan, is it? Oh nooooo, she has to completely overhaul/clean out/re-arrange the space, doesn't she?

In the middle of the the July and August heat no less.

Talk about bat shit crazy.

I've lost four  five pounds* in the last two weeks from all the work and heat. I kid you not.

It's not entirely finished. I have to construct dust hoods for the compound miter and radial arm saws, hook up all the machines to the system and ground them.

Here's the deal: Wood dust is a known carcinogen, so if you're going to do a lot of woodworking (and it seems that I do), then you really need to do something about it. (Not to mention that it makes my sinuses swell up like they are stuffed full of sea monkeys.) I've known this for a while, but put off installing the system because, well frankly, I suspected it was going to be a pain in the ass. And it has been.

But it has also been an interesting and fun problem to solve. Part of the reason it was difficult was that I went ahead and totally cleaned out the shop and re-arranged it before starting. After all, once I put the system in, the machines are going to more or less be locked into their place forever. Or until I die or move away. Whichever comes first.

So I gave it some thought and came up with a floor plan that maximizes efficiency and space, unloaded all the shelves (and in the process getting rid of all the things "I might use someday," but never have), shoved and moved all the heavy stuff around, installed the ductwork, and re-loaded the shelves.

(It was really time for a good cleaning and overhaul anyway. I don't want to talk about the disgusting things I found behind the shelves. Let's just say that everything has been sprayed with a bleach solution and the exterminator is coming at 3 o'clock today.

I also caulked and spray-foam insulated the heck out of every crack and cranny I found, so that was a bonus, too.)

I used 4" PVC pipe for the ductwork to minimize friction (which lessens the suction power), and since running wood dust through plastic can create static electricity, I am grounding it by threading a copper wire through all the ductwork and connecting it to a metal part on each machine:

We're getting closer to a tour. Be patient. But in the meantime, here's teaser shot of the almost-finished dust collection system with everything in its new place:

*Edited to reflect what the bathroom scale said as of this morning.


  1. Being conscientious of carcinogens=not batshit crazy.
    Proud of you for doing that. Really.

    Also, today while studying, I ran across a couple x-rays of womens' backs in my anatomy book. I thought about you --- I hope you're taking some honking big calcium supplements daily. I say that with love!

    Entertaining read, as per usual.

  2. That heat must really have gotten to you. The end product looks great though, and should make your woodworking much more enjoyable (as well as healthier).

  3. Susan, Ohh lawd, I'm weak kneed over the the dust collection system :) Now about the working in the garden in the heat. I am right there with you on that one. My gardening for now is, standing in the house (AC full blast) sipping a glass of ice tea and watching the plant wilt. Ok I know I'm bad but if anything is going to hit the ground because of the heat I rather it be the plant and not me. As always great post, love that dust collection system. Hmmm, has "Ask This Old House" called you yet ? - G

  4. You consistently amaze me with your talent.~~Dee

  5. Eileen--I hope you aren't going to tell me everything you learn in med school. I'm a hypochondriac, you know.

    MMD--Yes, the heat has definitely gotten to me.

    Gary--Iced tea is the cure for almost everything, including this wretched heat.

    Dee--Aw shucks, missy.


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