Dust In The Wind

A woodshop is a fun place to be, and working with wood is a great and relaxing hobby to have. And a safe one, you would think, just so long as you practice safe techniques around all of the sharp blades that fill any whop that works on wood.

You would be wrong. Not about needing to be safe around high powered machinery with sharp rotating blades. That goes without saying. You would be wrong to think that just paying attention to that one thing would keep you safe. If you do, you have not been paying attention to all the things that can go wrong with your lungs over time.

dust stormFine particles of wood dust that hang in the air of any woodworking operation are the types of particles that are very damaging to lung tissue over time. Every little spec of wood or whatever that gets into you lungs causes just a little bit of damage. That damage is repaired and leaves scar tissue. Though those little bits of scar tissue are microscopic, they build up over time. And i conjunction with other factors, they can have quite a negative impact on lung function after years of exposure.

If you don’t want to be enjoying your retirement years strapped to an oxygen tank, you had better put a shop vacuum system on your woodshop bucket list. And you should be looking at the best system you can afford. Your lungs and your health are not the places you want to be saving money when it comes to affording to fund your hobby.

You should be looking for a good quality cyclone dust collector. And you should spend some time designing the system using the highest quality components you can afford. A well designed cyclone system will not only do a great job keeping your shop floor clean of the sawdust and wood chips that are the inevitable leftovers of any wood cutting or finishing operations, it will also remove a large portion of the fine dust that your machines produce. It does this by virtue of its two stage process.  The cyclone to remove the larger chips and a fine pleated filter to remove the smaller dust particles.

And though a good system will take care of the lions share of the dust, there will still be fine particles floating around in the air. Particles that you can’t even see. In order to take care of these fine particles, consider going one more step and installing a shop air filtration system.

Those are th boxes that you see hanging in the ceilings of some shops. They run for a while after the machines stop and cycle all the air from the shop through a series of filters designed to get all the air in the shop HEPA clean. If you take one more step and wear a dust mask in the times when you are creating the most dust in your shop, there is no reason you can’t have years of fun enjoying your wood working hobby and still have the breath to enjoy actually doing things after you retire.

Finding a Reason

Hobbies are important. They are also good place to investigate when you decide it is time to start looking for new places to meet people.

You would think that having grown up in an area there would be acquaintances to get reacquainted with. And I would imagine that often times this is the case. Not this time though.

That outcome requires a couple of things. One is that you were social enough when you were younger to have a social circle. The second is that at least some of those people would have to have stayed around. And that they are people that you will want fit into your life now.

men roofingOne of the places where connections can be made is at the local schools. They sometimes have adult education opportunities in various areas. Or they might be a place where local groups can meet. Or if nothing else have listing of the opportunities around town to get together with like minded individuals.

Another place is the old fashioned local paper, or craigslist might have ads for local groups, or for people who are looking to get together to do a bit of projecting. Look for a group for example that might have access to some pneumatic tools but need to use them in a place where a portable compressor is needed.

It might seem odd, but the cases where people have most of what they need for a project but not everything. Group get togethers where people can work out some sort of labor exchange are not uncommon. They are also a good way for a person who has spent some time collecting a lot more tools than friends to begin to build a group of, if not friends yet, then at least people to be around. A woodshop is a fun place to be, but it’s not a life.

As people fade away over time, it becomes obvious that some effort is needed to keep the pipeline full. Maybe next it will be time to look in on some other hobbies, or to find a swap meet and see what the local car clubs have to offer.


Day to Day

You know, the beauty and the downside of living in a small town, especially owe you have known pretty much all your life, is how much every day can seem so much like every other. There is an intense sense of security that can come with knowing exactly what to expect and when to expect it. While constant change can be exciting, it is also challenging and definitely not serene.

So the challenge to coming back “home” is managing to find ways to make things interesting while at the same time not destroying the peace that comes with being there. This means that you want to be careful that the things you get involved with don’t become central to your life. If you were a party person in your youth you already know that centering your life and your friends around that activity can ensnare you in a net that is very hard to escape when you want to.

The same thing can be true in adulthood. If you choose unwise or childish things to ‘spice things up”, you will soon find that you are right back in the same boat. Age does not necessarily bring wisdom, since wisdom requires some reflection. And reflection and escaping the day to day drudgery of life don’t necessarily go together.

It is not hard, though to make a bit of effort to join groups that meet on a regular basis but don’t necessarily involve socializing. By doing that you can control your interactions with people and involve them in your life on a case by case basis after you give them a good look. If you carefully join something like a hiking club you will have a reason to get out of house and meet some like minded individuals on a regular basis. That increases your chances of meeting people that you can build deeper relationships with at your discretion. And you can decide to what level you involve them.

Of maybe this is the way the world works for most people, and I am just late to the party.

On Growing Up

I, like so many others I am sure, grew up with the notion that there was probably no place on earth more boring than the small town I was living in. My greatest urge was to blow that popstand and get out there in the world where things were happening.

Well, I spent a bit of time out there in the world and though it took a while, I began to understand that even out there where things were happening (and I could see them happening) they weren’t happening to me. Not long after that I understood that it wasn’t the world’s fault. I was just part of my innate nature.

Eventually I ended up pretty much back where I started. Like so many of us do. And learned to appreciate the smal things – the value that a slower paced life brings. Now I just enjoy going about my day without worrying about how much of a good time everyone else is having. It helps to know that a lot of the  good times that other people appear to be having really aren’t all that good. They are chasing the same dream, but instead of failing to get on the treadmill, they are finding out that the treadmill is covered with ashes. The happiness they are looking for is too found elsewhere.

Now I just try to live right and take joy in my hobbies. Chief among them being watching movies and playing with wood. I watch movies quite well and someday hope to master the art of working with wood as well…

Here I hope to document some of the progress I make there and with the other things the quiet life brings.