As an aside to this thread, I would like to reiterate the need for
breathing protection while polishing at the bench. My father is 82
years old and except for pulmonary fibrosis, he’s in excellent
health. Unfortunately, he will probably only live another few weeks.
His lung condition is the direct result of polishing at the bench
without wearing a mask of some sort except for the heaviest dust
creation operations for the first forty of his fifty plus years of
If you are right-handed, you may notice that as you use your
flexshaft, the dust and residue are aimed right at your face. Dad
thought he was off the hook because he’s a leftie, and the dust was
directed away from his face. He was wrong.
Please, please, please! Consider polishing at a dedicated polishing
station that is equipped with a hood and dust collector system. The
results of your finishing efforts will be considerably better, and
the health risks you are exposing yourselves to will be greatly
reduced. Not to mention that your face, bench, clothes and shop in
general will stay a lot cleaner a lot longer.
Plus you can sell the recovered dust! That fact alone oughta tell ya
everything you need to know about what you’re breathing.
Even if you use a mask and bench-mounted dust collector at your
bench, your exposure level is high. Unless the dust from the wheel is
generated entirely within the hood with the heaviest stuff aimed
directly at the hole in back, it’s not gonna get it all. What you
don’t breathe in immediately will settle and get airborne again the
next time you move anything or clean up your dusty bench, giving you
yet another opportunity to ingest it. It may not be as toxic as
investment dust or plating fumes, but it’s bad juju nonetheless.
Do not underestimate the health risks associated with what we do.
They may seem minimal and a pain in the rear to deal with, but long
term exposure to dust and fumes, even those that are not immediately
nasty or toxic can and will kill you if you’re not careful. This is
an especially important consideration for someone that is just
starting out and whose habits are first being formed.
It took a while, but polishing at the bench has all but killed my
Dad; by Christmas, it will have. For years, my brother and I tried to
warn him, but he insisted that it was mainly cotton and flannel dust
and that can’t possibly hurt you, plus he wasn’t really breathing all
that much of it anyway. Now he’s getting pure oxygen at 17 liters per
hour and he’s not breathing much of that either.
Please don’t let it do the same to you.