Woodcarving and Dust Control
As seen elsewhere in this blog, I have been doing some woodcarving. Some of it is done by CNC machine and the rest is done with power hand tools or just knife and gouge. I like them all.
My PN causes some problems with hand (blade) carving but I still like it very much and it is so simple, clean and basic I just keep going back to it.
The biggest problem I have with powered (rotary tool) carving is the fine dust control. I haven’t yet invested in a good dust control system. That’s big money to do a good job. I will probably design my own to control the cost. I just want to be carving things right now so I use a shop vac or a small fan to blow the dust away from me. That isn’t too effective and doesn’t make for a clean shop!
Carving is much more than just wood. Wood is usually the vision a non carver thinks about when they hear the term. What’s not immediately thought about (and this holds true for all woodworking) is the dust issue. Wood dust is not a harmless “natural” material. I remember the years my grandfather (who taught me a lot about woodworking) worked in the dust and he was a smoker. We learned about the hazards of mineral dust because it was more irritating, but wood dust is no safe haven.
I use both the HB2 CNC carving machine and hand rotary tools like the Proxxon, Dremel (not so much) and I really like the 400,000 rpm air powered hand piece. The later is a super fine dust maker but I love the action. They all definitely need a fine dust collection system before I use them much more.
My dust system will handle all materials.
Knife and gouge (blade) carving only makes slivers and chips and none of the fine lung clogging dust of the high speed tools. It’s some work getting and keeping a fine edge on them, but when they are sharp they are a joy to use. Also the work (carving) can be done almost anywhere. The major mess is nothing but chips. Many carvers do their carving right in their living spaces. A large towel is enough to contain the debris.
All the tools can be kept in a small tool box so it is possible to take your blade carving work with you. A person on the road or remote work site can keep working (after paid work) at what they love rather than hanging out at a local dive; maybe it’s anti-social but better than many of the alternatives.
For the home carver it is easy to sit out on the porch in fine weather and enjoy the natural light and good air. What’s not to like? Blade carving goes anywhere.