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Woodworking describes a broad range of applications that generate dust from processing wood material.  Planing, sawing, routing, milling, sanding and turning are processes used throughout many commercial, industrial and institutional facilities. Common applications include cabinetry and furniture making, vocational training in trade schools and even shipping departments across a wide range of industries where wooden pallets and crates are utilized.

Some of the key benefits from woodworking dust filtration include:
  • Protecting worker health and minimizing potential long term liability
  • Increased facility safety
  • Reduced housekeeping
  • Improved machine reliability
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Recovery of material for possible resale / reuse

Let's Get Specific

Contaminant Characteristics

Contaminant characteristics of wood dust vary greatly depending upon the composition and species of the material and the process creating the dust. Hardwoods tend to produce finer particulate when processed compared to softwoods. Moisture content in the wood causes unique characteristics as well. Moist wood tends to generate irregular shaped particulate which has a sticky or tacky property. Dry wood may produce more splinters when processed. Glues and resins may also be present when certain materials such as plywood, oriented strand board (OSB) and fiberboard are processed.

The woodworking equipment and operation also significantly impacts the contaminant characteristics. Typically, for high speed finishing applications such as sanding, the particulate will be fine and range from submicron to 5 µm in size. For operations removing larger amounts of material such as routers, saws and jointers, particulate can range up to 200 µm. Planers, lathes and drill presses may produce even larger particulate up to 1/4 inch. In many cases, these machines will be combined into the same dust collection system creating a broad range of contaminant properties. The irregular shapes and large sizes of woodworking dusts make the dust potentially abrasive. Also, wood dust is hygroscopic which causes it to agglomerate when it absorbs moisture.

Woodworking Contaminant Hazards

Uncontrolled contaminants from woodworking operations pose a risk to workers and the facility. Extended exposure and inhalation of wood dusts can result in adverse employee health effects. Some specific types of wood dust have even been classified as carcinogenic. Wood dust is combustible and explosive in most cases and collection systems require sprinklers and explosion protection in accordance with NFPA 664. Dust accumulating on factory surfaces or within duct work increases the risk of fire or a dust explosion and can lead to increased maintenance and quality issues on surrounding equipment and processes.

Recommended Approaches for Woodworking Contaminant Control

Approaching woodworking applications begins by aligning the control technique with the process and contaminant type.
  • Source Capture. Whenever possible, capturing and controlling the contaminant at the source is the recommended approach. Source capture involves utilizing various types of hoods near or directly connected to the equipment processing the wood to extract the contaminant near the generation point. This will protect the worker and prevent the contaminant from migrating elsewhere in the facility. Source capture is the most effective means of capture and requires the least amount of energy and initial investment to accomplish. Hoods can be individual or can be combined for use with a central dust collection system. In most cases, exhaust hoods should be placed in the ejection path of the generated dust.
  • Local Containment. Containment isolates the dust generating process from the rest of the facility by keeping the local area under negative pressure and exhausting the air to the dust collection equipment. An example of local containment is a cross-draft booth used on a finishing or sanding operation.

Dust collection solutions for woodworking may require special options or accessories to improve the safety and reliability of the system. Cyclone collectors are an appropriate solution when used as the primary filter for large particulate or as a pre-filter for cartridge collectors to handle applications with a broad range of particulate. Properly configured cartridge dust collectors and baghouses can be successfully applied on most production woodworking applications. Shaker baghouse dust collectors are a suitable solution for general, intermittent duty woodworking operations such as trade schools.

When handling combustible dust from woodworking processes, it is recommended that the dust collection system be located outdoors and protected per applicable NFPA regulations and that fire retardant cartridge filters be used in the cartridge dust collector. Filters with wide pleat construction should be used to handle processes that generate large particulate. Synthetic media such as spunbond or ePTFE membrane can also be used to handle high moisture or agglomerative dusts.

Product Solutions for Woodworking Contaminants

UAS offers a full line of dust extraction and collection equipment that can be utilized to safely control woodworking contaminants. The list below indicates our products that are most commonly applied in these applications. Our application engineers can help you select the right product with the appropriate options and accessories such as explosion vents (swing door or rupture panels), sprinklers, safety after filters, rotary air locks and more to meet your specific application and facility needs.

Our products that are suitable and most commonly applied to woodworking applications include:

Various federal government agencies have regulations and standards in place to protect both workers and the environment from the hazards of woodworking dusts. Several national organizations also provide safety considerations and guidelines. Note that local and state regulations or ordinances may support or exceed the federal guidelines.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 

  • Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing and Handling of Particulate Solids - NFPA 654-2013
  • Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration - NFPA 68-2013
  • Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems - NFPA 69-2014
  • Standard for Preventing Fires & Dust Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities - NFPA 664-2012

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

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