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Michael G
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone. I'm just starting to get into woodworking and have been really enjoying it. I live in the midwest so working outside year round isn't a great option, and I'm wondering how much of a mess I can get away with in my basement. I have a decent-sized, unfinished, but usable basement, maybe about 1000 sq feet, no walls within the space. On one end of the basement are my two kids doing eLearning every day for hours, along with a living/entertainment space. On the other end is the furnace, washer/dryer and my "workshop", such as it is. I recently freaked myself out reading up on how dangerous it is to have sawdust flying around in your workspace, and I'm wondering what my next step is.

I recently purchased a WEN air filter, but otherwise I have only a small vacuum with a HEPA filter that I use to clean up after I'm done making a mess. I have a few hand power tools but would love to get a table saw at some point. I'm just not sure how far to go/how much money to spend in order to feel like the basement is a place where I can make a little bit of a mess but still have it be safe for the kids. Do I need to go all out and hook up a cyclone with hoses running everywhere, and do I need to build walls to separate my workspace to keep the kids safe? I'm trying to balance the amount of time/money I'm going to spend on dust collection against the few hours I have each week to do actual project work.

So generally speaking, how comfortable would you be with sharing your workspace with kids who are in there everyday? What it would take for you to be ok with that setup?

Thanks and looking forward to learning more in this forum.
 

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Hi, welcome fellow midwesterner!

It all depends on how seriously you're going to get into woodworking. Only you can make these decisions based on your budget, space, and priorities. If you really want to do a lot of woodworking, your tool and space requirement will grow. As you find you can make things better than you can buy them, your budget for the hobby will grow.

Keeping as much dust as possible out of the air is always a good idea. It's the very fine dust suspended in the air that causes problems. If your kids aren't in the same area when you're woodworking, closing the ductwork and cleaning up when you're done will serve you well.

I have a separate workshop as part of my finished basement. It's about 11*17. The rest of the basement has a finished family room, a dog grooming room, and storage by the utilities. I have a dust collector, an air cleaner, and I have Merv 11 filters over the cold air returns. I still have to vacuum all the time.

If you have plans to finish the basement, use that as an opportunity to set aside a separate room for woodworking. Not only does it keep the dust somewhat contained to a smaller area, but because you have a completely separate dedicated room, then you also have less worry about kids around sharp tools, and you don't need to clean up and put away quite as much.
 

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I have a separate workshop as part of my finished basement. It's about 11*17.
i'd recommend walling off an area that you can call your own, like sanchez has. in my 50x50 barn, i have a 20x30 area walled off that i do 100% of my woodworking in. throw a set of double doors that you can easily move big tools in and out and install a lock in it to keep the kids out

most of us grew up with a shop area in the basement or garage with all tools plugged in and ready to fire up with the flick of a switch. i still like that idea with the added security of a locked door. my 20x30 space has lots of room for expansion, sanchez's 11x17 would be a little snug for me, but perfect for starting out
 

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Egg Spurt
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I'd definitely want to keep kids away from woodworking equipment and tools in general until they reach an age where they are ready to learn how to be responsible around them. The absolute last thing you want to happen is for one of your kids lose a finger or much worse. Make darn sure all your equipment has safety locks and keep the key where they can't get to them.
There are plenty of things kids can do around the shop, but power tools ain't one of them and of the things they can use they need close supervision with zero distractions. Before you just trust kids make them prove beyond any doubt that they're going to be responsible with everything. Keep em safe.
 

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Michael G
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone. I should have clarified that my concerns right now are primarily around generating sawdust in the basement and whether or not I'll be able to contain it well enough. That said, tool safety is of course critical. And yes, I would much prefer to have all my tools behind a locked door. Until then, what tools I do have are always unplugged, and if they are cordless the batteries are stored separately from the tool. I don't have any power tools plugged in in my work area.
 

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If building a separate room isn't in the cards, then just try to make sure you're not working when they're down there, and clean up afterwards.

If the dust isn't floating around, it won't easily get in their lungs. And if you're not generating lots of dust, then the risk decreases. Remember that the risk is from long term exposure, not intermittent.

That little Wen air cleaner will help some, but it's meant for a smaller area. I have the same one.
 

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The best way for you to get your answer is to buy a decent air quality monitor, preferably one that provides both PM 2.5 and PM 10 readings. That way you have numbers that can be compared to established standards and get a estimate of risk.

Opinions and speculation can be useful but it's hard to beat actual measurements.
 

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