Most of the time we’re just making copious amounts of sawdust. I often wonder whether we own a furniture company or a sawdust factory. It not only gets everywhere but when it’s particularly dry in the woodshop it can also become static. If this happens, sawdust launches at you from absurd distances and bonds to your clothes/hair/face. Irritating, to say the least, but I have to respect the enthusiasm.

Machines such as the planer generate a vast amount of sawdust and apologize for nothing. ‘Planing’ shaves off layers of the wood making the grain smooth and even. I usually stand at the ‘out-feed’ end of this machine, which means I get showered with sawdust. After planing a simple redwood board my socks can become so packed with sawdust I leak wood shavings for days. Glamorous AND itchy.

We try to keep the woodshop as clean as possible and sweep the floor regularly. This is not just for health and safety reasons but also to keep the sawdust from interfering with our woodworking. If not monitored closely, it can actually mark soft woods after the planing process. If you stack the finished wood on top of each other, without brushing the excess sawdust off, little trapped shavings can make small imprints throughout the grain. Very annoying. Perhaps it’s a last cry for attention.

If we’re not brushing sawdust off the wood or our clothes, we’re vacuuming it off the floor and sweeping it off the machines. It just won’t leave. It’s been cut off and left for dead, and still hangs around for more. I think it somehow knows it belongs with the wood. Sawdust might be the rejected part of woodworking, but by George, it’s loyal.


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