Woodworking on a Half-Shoestring #117: Working "Clean"

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Blog entry by retired_guru posted 04-11-2020 04:57 PM 365 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 116: Lumber and Cut-Offs Reorganization Part 117 of Woodworking on a Half-Shoestring series Part 118: Seeds for Insanity: Sorting Screws, Bolts, Nuts, Washers... »

My previous post was about the complete re-organization of lumber and cut-offs in and around my dungeon workshop. I call it a ‘dungeon’ because of the several issues I have with it, and the compromises or extra lengths I have to go through to equal what many of my peers take for granted in their own workshops.

My workshop is the basement of my 120 year old home, poorly constructed (in my opinion), showing its age more than it should. There isn’t a flat spot of concrete floor in the workshop, nor any patches that are co-planar with each other. The Southwest end of the main workspace floor slopes a good 5 or more degrees to the East, and overall, all the concrete is breaking up so badly that even rolling large diameter casters on it requires a lot of tugging and pushing. A good fifth of the square footage is unuseable due to the age-old accumulation of coal dust—an old coal bin in its day. Ceilings are low enough that I can touch the floor joists above without effort, and I’m always banging projects, lumber, and my flipped up face shield, against asbestos covered water pipes. The list of compromises is long, but hey, it’s still home—for now. Had the COVID-19 outbreak not been happening, we would be in a serious search for a new home, and maybe closing on one at this time. Until this is possible (and safely practical), I’m making due with what I have to work with.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. An article in an email I received today sparked my interest in creating this blog entry. It’s a good read, although I will be the first to mention I have some issues with some of it recommendations—scraps, for one:

My version of ‘working clean’ is now, and will continue to be, a top priority in this workshop. Between the arachnids and the asbestos, the concrete dust and hundred-plus year old timbers, and my general allergies around wood dust, I have to wear a P100 respirator (chemical cartridges when working with VOCs) every time I use or do a dust-producing process. My allergies are such that even a good does of unfiltered pine dust will cause a severe reaction that lays me out for the better part of a day. It’s uncomfortable working for hours with a half-mask and face shield on, but there isn’t any cost effective way for me to get around this situation in this environment. For this reason alone, working with hand tools is a first choice whenever practical. (More of a challenge is being on my feet for more than a couple of hours—this will be a forever thing.) And still I’m content to do this work, work with these materials, and under the dungeon’s demanding conditions. I’m happiest in the shop when I can do what I want to do, create as I wish to and knowing I am not going to be suffering later on from what I have inhaled. Keeping my work area ‘clean’ makes this possible. It’s an effort that will save my sanity now, potentially my health for years to come.


Recently I purchased a Jet Air-Filtration System that hangs from the ceiling. I had a spot earmarked for it when I was making the order. It turns out that spot won’t work, so I’ll be stressing some brain cells to the max to figure out where this monster can be mounted. Oh, the first-world problems…

-- -- Paul: jack of all dreams, a master none.

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