View Full Version : Dangers?

08-30-2007, 03:09 PM
What are the dangers of knifemaking, other than grinding, forging, buffing, band sawing, etc.
I recently have been concerned about using acetone as a cleaner. Is it a real concern?

Others, perhaps, that not everyone might be aware of that should be brought to light?

08-30-2007, 03:51 PM
It is dangerous all, must be attention. Francesco Pach? (that you know) has had to stop the profession of knifemaker, had become allergic to all the produced powders.

george tichbour
08-30-2007, 04:06 PM
I take the position that all dusts and fumes produced are dangerous, you can't go wrong with that as opposed to trying to decide if one dust is less dangerous than another and could be inhaled with less personal risk.

Then again crossing the street in this town is dangerous too. I guess then that some risk is acceptable and unavoidable.


Don Robinson
08-30-2007, 06:14 PM
Steve, I've been soaking parts in acetone for many years, and handling the parts bare handed.

I really don't know the dangers, but next time you pick up a can, read the cautions on the label.

It will open up your sinuses for a few minutes.Smells fresh and clean to me. I'm simply saying I use it once in awhile. Not recommending it to anyone.

Other than that, the dangers of knifemaking include lung disease, flat ended thumbs, lost fingers and limbs, heart attacks, fits of rage and parts going through walls.

After 20 years though, you have so little feelings left in your hands you no longer even notice burns and cuts until you find fresh blood on your work bench or the floor.

Best part of my life, though. And I like my boss.

08-30-2007, 11:17 PM
Steve, acetone bears a Heath hazard rating of "1:Slight". It has about the same inhalation hazard as ethyl alcohol (grain alcohol) and half that of isopropyl alcohol (IPA is worse). The small amounts a knifemaker is exposed to are not a significant hazard unless you already have liver problems from other issues. You get more exposure to hazardous solvents filling your gas tank than you do acetone in the shop.

That said, what you don't want to do with acetone or any solvent is to use them to wash stuff off your hands with. They defat the skin, and remove the natural barriers to chemical absorption. Thus, there is the concern that whatever's on your hands may get carried right through the skin during the act of washing them off. Best to wear the thin nitrile gloves when doing things like working with epoxy or dyes.

I would be more concerned with exposure to things like gasoline and other petro distillates, turpentine, or chlorinated hydrocarbons like BraKleen than I would acetone. i keep acetone and denatured alcohol in my shop, and prefer acetone.

I was a chemist in my working life and also safety officer for much longer than I wanted to be. :) We didn't consider acetone a particularly hazardous solvent, and used it regularly for cleaning.

I think the biggest exposure concern in the shop should be the problems associated with longterm exposure to particulates from grinding and buffing operations and fumes from the hightech alloys containing vanadiium. That cartridge respirator is our biggest protection after safety glasses. The biggest danger would be hacking or slicing something "they" can't repair. Knifemaking..."Got Scars?"

Mike Turner
08-31-2007, 01:32 AM
You all are forgetting the most hazardous one of all !!! A neglected WIFE. That almost cost me my life once.

08-31-2007, 10:16 AM
Thanks to everyone. I'd just like this thread to, after someone ha read it and put the advice into practice, help avoid accidents, injury and sickness that can be avoided. So far, it's doing just that and I thank you all! I've already changed some of my practices, gloves being one, when using chemicals of any kind. They are cheap, convenient and smart. Don't forget glasses/goggles, and respirators.
Tell your wife that you love an appreciate her!

09-02-2007, 08:32 AM
One more thing about acetone: it's the main ingredient in fingernail polish remover!
--Dangers in the shop-? How about plain clumsiness? I once put a "finished" "pointed" knife under my arm, tried to carry more stuff, reached for more, dropped the knife- stuck point down in the top of my foot! Another lesson in "sharp pointy things" ----Jon

Doug Lester
09-02-2007, 01:25 PM
One thing to remember about acetone is that it is very flamable (and you can take that as gospel from an idiot who lit a work bench with it once:o ) That's why I don't store it in the house. As far as general guidelines, use common sense. A respirator is good for whenever you're producing a lot of dust, especially with some of the exotic woods. Far better to keep it out of your lungs than try to remove it. Safety glasses around any power equiptment, and if it's noisey, hearing protectors are in order. I found that since I've started wearing dydidium (sp) safety glasses while using the forge, gas or charcoal, my eyes don't get as tired or as "sandy" after a forging session.

Doug Lester

09-05-2007, 09:25 AM
In your experience the inhalation of the mother of pearl dusts is truly dangerous or is only a legend?

09-05-2007, 09:37 AM
Welcome to the forum, Riccardo!

I strongly believe that it would be wise to never grind MOP without a mask. Steel dust, wood dust can eventually break down but MOP is like a mineral, I believe that there is great opportunity for it to be a real problem if a lot of it gets into the lungs. I'm not a Dr. or a scientist, but I believe it is essential to use ventilation in the shop and a good dust mask when working with MOP.

09-05-2007, 12:38 PM
Thanks Steve!

09-05-2007, 01:12 PM
The biggest source of danger is you. If you work with the tools when tired, angry or frustrated you're asking to get hurt and bad. Also the idea of "I'll just run in & touch this up real quick" has caused several of my injuries. When you get confident that you know what you?re doing you can also get sloppy on the safety. I got a quick (thankful pain free) reminder that even though I've used buffers for years in jewelry, working small parts easily, it's still dangerous.

On MOP, the materials themselves are not hazardous unless you have an allergy but the MOP dust is fine enough it can by-pass the hairs in the lungs & settle in the little pockets in your lungs. This is bad enough because it is very difficult to remove this material (I don't think it can be coughed out) but on top of this the dust microscopically is like shards of glass and can cause cysts. Major bad mojo!! This is part of the danger from asbestos & fiber glass.

When you get down to it there are very few dusts that are healthy for the lungs though. I keep my pearl wet, to keep the dust down & to help protect the pearl from burning. I will say this though I work a lot of my stuff wet even the blades. I typically dip a blade before the water even dries off.


09-06-2007, 01:29 AM
...abitually I use mask when I work with a material like G10, carbon fiber etc.. I don't use mask with wood bat......only if I work on cocobolo use mask because I have one strongly allergic reaction to its dust.
When people ask me a knife with cocobolo handle in sincerity I try to suggest an other type of wood.

09-06-2007, 09:00 AM
Our lungs will not benefit from anything but clean air.

Doug Lester
09-06-2007, 07:38 PM
I use a respirator for just about anything that produces fumes or dust. A dust mask might do for some of the things, but I have the respirator and I don't have any problems wearing it and it's not problem if it's overkill. I even wear it when I clean the shower stall to keep the cleaner fumes from making me wheeze.

Doug Lester

09-07-2007, 07:29 PM
We can get accustomed to using safe practices, if we make the effort. It will pay off in the long run. You're a great example, Doug.

09-17-2007, 08:00 PM
Adhesives absorbing into the skin can be hazardous as well.

Ron Aggus
09-18-2007, 12:58 PM
I thought the biggest danger in being a knife maker was going broke and starving to death.:rolleyes:

09-18-2007, 05:26 PM
Certainly a possibility for everyone!

john smith
11-23-2007, 09:24 AM
Just about every thing made has a MSDS this is the (material safety data sheet).
you can ask for one when you buy a product, it will tell you what safety gear you should wear when using, symptoms of overdose, how to treat.The technical name of the product.You should keep all this information in a folder for easy reference for you, the emergencey room and the fire dept. You can also look this up on line.
Sometimes MSDS are not easy to read. There is a number on there called the LD50 (lethal dose) the lower the # the more toxic the chemical is, either orally or dermal thru the skin.I have had my state pesticide license for 18 years and had to learn this stuff and still do not understand it all, so read a few this might help. Even pinesol cleaner has a MSDS because it is a fungicide and treated 4x4 post from your lumber store has a MSDS.Don't be scared just read and understand, if it says wear gloves and mask you should. When you buy stablized wood for you handles you should find out what they used in the process.

11-23-2007, 04:08 PM
Thanks, John, and everyone. Here's what I found on this site:

(I'll be wearing gloves from now on. I don't think inhalation is a problem. The small amt. that I use on a pad, to clean a blade, is hardly detectable, by smell, while in the process).

Potential Health Effects

Inhalation of vapors irritates the respiratory tract. May cause coughing, dizziness, dullness, and headache. Higher concentrations can produce central nervous system depression, narcosis, and unconsciousness.

Swallowing small amounts is not likely to produce harmful effects. Ingestion of larger amounts may produce abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Aspiration into lungs can produce severe lung damage and is a medical emergency. Other symptoms are expected to parallel inhalation.

Skin Contact:
Irritating due to defatting action on skin. Causes redness, pain, drying and cracking of the skin.

Eye Contact:
Vapors are irritating to the eyes. Splashes may cause severe irritation, with stinging, tearing, redness and pain.

Chronic Exposure:
Prolonged or repeated skin contact may produce severe irritation or dermatitis.

Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions:
Use of alcoholic beverages enhances toxic effects. Exposure may increase the toxic potential of chlorinated hydrocarbons, such as chloroform, trichloroethane.