Facemask for MDF CNC Routing


Ian

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I was just about to buy a JSP Powercap active respirator for when I work with machining MDF in the workshop, however I found out that there are disclaimers specifically relating to how the APF10 filters aren't suitable for machined MDF (due to the fumes when machined at high speed).

It's a huge shame, as I'd have liked to use an active respirator. The Powercap and the Trend Airshield (which @Retired recommended) both look great, but might not be the best bet for MDF. Part of me is happy to just buy one and know that it's still protection against dust, but I don't know the long-term effects of the MDF vapour issue so thought I'd ask here for advice!

Alternatively, are there any other full-face masks you could recommend that aren't going to break the bank but work well for machine MDF at high speed? Until now I've been using the 3M FFA2P3, which is comfortable, but disposable.
 
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Hi,

Good luck Ian. For the level of MDF dust protection you would like/need then I think you'll be into industry standards with related high costs. There's no doubt MDF dust is dangerous even when produced by saws but the very fine particulates are even more dangerous and its these that are more of a concern to you Ian and rightly so.

http://www.props.eric-hart.com/safety/is-mdf-really-that-bad-for-you/

Without doubt the best plan is to remove all MDF dust at source by extraction but even this can prove very difficult in a home workshop; ideally the extractor would be outside the workshop connected by galvanized ducting and the extractor of the cyclone type. A cyclone dust extractor could be an interesting and reasonably cheap project if a second hand extractor is used.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Plastic-Dust-Separation-Collector-Cyclone-Separator-Vacuums-Cleaners-Filter-Tool/283325539878?hash=item41f784a626:g:AQEAAOSwuwBbUXOt

A few years ago I gave a chum a vacuum cleaner after I bought a Record power extractor; my chum was always troubled by the very fine dust produced by his bandsaw; he bought a cyclone similar to the one shown at the link above and rigged it up with my old vacuum cleaner; he says it works a treat with very little dust actually reaching the vacuum cleaner.

With the very fine particulates it would be pointless using an extractor within the workshop if the extractor doesn't filter fine enough; I know my Record power extractor doesn't and it's incredibly dirty to empty creating a dust cloud? I did many years ago make my own big 3 phase extractor using a galvanized water tank as receptacle this holding four big bin bags of sawdust & shavings; I do however plan to install a cyclone type extractor assuming I can ever get into the workshop for long enough given our dire weather.

At your machine Ian is it possible to fully enclose it with just an access door for making adjustments; adding/removing materials? If this is possible then extract to the enclosure and when the machine stops let the extraction run for a minute to clear remaining dust before opening the door. This would remove the bulk of the dust at source and possibly then a respirator would be sufficient?

I dislike wearing nuisance dust masks because in really dirty conditions I end up with black patches one each side of my nose although these masks are a great deal better than nothing.

As you know Ian I bought a Trend Airshield mostly to wear during woodturning especially whilst sanding; I've now used the Airshield a number of times but I don't like wearing it for a number of reasons; it's bulky and having the fan and filters in the helmet doesn't help; because the filters are in the helmet the filters I believe are small and if in regular use would soon become blocked; the battery charging time takes absolutely forever; my Makita 4ah drill battery charges in around 30 minutes. I wear glasses so wearing any helmet is a bit of a palaver; the Airshield does work protecting my lungs so I shouldn't complain about discomfort because being unable to breathe would be a whole lot worse.

For working at my lathe I had considered setting up my own dust exclusion; run a 22mm copper tube from outside the workshop where the tube end was protected from weather and bugs; install a low power 12V fan ensuring the fan was sealed from the outside; at the lathe add a quick snap in connector and from this run a small bore tube to the helmet to give the required downdraft of air which could possibly be controlled by adding a potentiometer to the motor to control the motor speed; possibly daydreaming at the moment but it's the sort of thing I tend to dream up; it would dispense with filters apart from one at the pipe end which wouldn't be subjected to dust. My only concern would be in keeping the airflow clean of bacteria or germs but an occasional flush through should avoid such a problem.

It's worth pointing out that there are also more dangerous materials than MDF in a home workshop; many hardwoods are highly toxic; here's one wood that is sure to clear a nose;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ptaeroxylon

When I installed our coffered ceiling Ian I used 7 full sheets of moisture resistant 18mm thick MDF; this was a major project in my workshop where space for working on such large sheets is very limited; for ripping I used my circular Skilsaw creating a cloud of MDF dust; I wore just a nuisance dust mask which actually did very well indeed; the inside of my nose remained clean which is a good indication I was reasonably well protected; I also wore ear defenders; as cutting progressed I kept getting taller so I had to stop to bag up the sawdust from under my feet. There was lots of machining to do creating masses of MDF dust; I certainly don't recommend others to follow my lead.

I hope someone can advise you better than I can Ian regarding regarding protection against the very fine MDF particulates; fine dust gets everywhere including inside watches?

Kind regards, Colin.

MDF_0001.JPG


Lots of MDF.

MDF_0002..JPG


More MDF being machined for the wall paneling.

MDF_0003.JPG


Ripping the 18mm thick MDF creating huge amounts of dust in my confined workshop; note workshop door is open which is rare due to our terrible wet climate.

MDF_0004.JPG


More MDF cutting this time cutting multiple joints.

MDF_0005.JPG


MDF beam assembly; my Makita cordless drill was a massive help and time saver sinking hundreds of screws.

MDF_0006.JPG


Space really was tight whilst handling the full sheets of heavy MDF on my own.

Master bedroom_0001.JPG


Wainscot paneling also MDF.

MDF_0001_01.JPG


The completed coffered ceiling making the master bedroom a bit special.

MDF_0003_01.JPG


For the coffered ceiling mouldings I ground a pair of knives for the Whitehill cutter block; the knife setting gauge is my own design made by me.

The blood has now returned to my hands and arms; looks nice though and was a very interesting project. I hope I haven't hijacked your thread Ian; I'm passing a bit of time away whilst it pours down with rain outside.
 
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Ian

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Thank you so much for all that detailed info Colin, you raise a good point and I think I should perhaps work on getting a cyclone extractor set up so that minimal dust escapes in the first place. I have one of these dust separators at the moment:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Triton-DCA300-Collection-Bucket-Capacity/dp/B002QS1LMU/

However, I can't see it'll be anywhere near as effective as a cyclonic separator. I'll work on modding it!

I like the idea of your remote fan for the helmet, but I can't help but think it would have its own drawbacks regarding mobility round the workshop. It is a neat idea though and I can imagine building something similar!

In terms of masks, I think this is the one I'll go for, as it filters everything so I can use it for pretty much any job:


Sometimes when I use the laser cutter, there's an awful smell - so this should deal with that too.
 
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Hi,

You're very welcome Ian; the mask you describe looks ideal and for your hobby use should prove perfect especially if you can reduce the airborne dust; I use a respirator with a solvent filter whilst I'm paint spraying and it does a good job.

Yes having a remote fan with hose connection to an helmet will be restrictive regarding moving around but I intended to use the idea whilst more or less stationary at the lathe so the hose length wouldn't be excessive; whilst at the lathe most of the tools and finishing materials are to hand on adjacent bench; I could set everything up then simply couple the helmet hose ensuring the hose was to my back and clipped to my belt for safety; the hose quick connector could even be attached to the bench well away from the lathe; I wouldn't want my nose rapidly coming into contact with the work whilst the work was spinning at 3,000 rpm. :D It's just an idea at the moment but like you I take dust very seriously indeed; not just as a lung killer but as a fire/explosion risk; I was taught gas/dust safety whilst working down a deep coal mine; even a wooly jumper can trigger a gas explosion due to static discharge; whilst working on static sensitive electronic components I had to be earthed/grounded; there are so many dangers just waiting to catch us out but if we worried about everything we wouldn't do anything at all; a bit of MDF dust seems trivial compared to being down a coal mine when shot blasting is being carried out but all dust is harmful.

Good luck in your endeavours and hopefully we'll see some of your projects in due course. :)

Kind regards, Colin.
 
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Wow Colin
That is one well ordered workshop.
Everything in it's place and a place for everything.
I would like to just find the workshop.
MDF is a bit of a sod because it tends to be made up from any old crap ground down then squeezed together with binders to look nice.
It's already particulates before you start to pull it apart.
I usually take the whole lot outside, keep my mouth shut and let the wind do the rest.
Clean, sharp tools will reduce any burning which is as hazardous as the "wood" dust.
For real crap, try chipboard. Anything in it from plastic to metal. Learnt that when sparks came out cutting a worktop with a circular saw.
 
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Hi,

Thanks piglet. If my workshop is kept tidy I can then do tidy work to the best of my ability; anything out of place tends to annoy me; it's just the way I was taught to work; I've been in workshops that looked like a bomb would tidy them up; in one such workshop whilst dancing around items on the floor trying not to trip I kept banging my head on items suspended from the roof these hanging down like bats; the workshop owner being a lot shorter than I am tall didn't have a problem and was quite happy in his very untidy environment.

Both MDF and Chipboard are hard on tools and cutters as you rightly say; I much prefer solid timber in both hard and softwood but I do also appreciate how useful sheet material is.

Oil tempered hardboard is definitely tough on cutting edges throwing out lots of sparks if put through machines which could be a fire/explosion hazard; all these sheet materials really need tipped tooling because even HSS is quickly blunted. Yes whatever is being attempted always use sharp tooling.

Kind regards, Colin.
 
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