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I am a newbie who just discovered I am really allergic to white oak. Has any one else experienced this? Any suggestions for working with it?

I plan to muscle through my current project but this is it
 

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If you're allergic, be very careful as the reactions can quickly become more severe.
 

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Are you sure it is the White Oak, and not just sawdust in general? All sawdust gives me the sniffles, but some species do seem to be worse than others.
 

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Sawdust Creator
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I'd switch to red oak!!! Really i'd talk to your doctor for advice on this one......it might just be the sniffles......but it could be something really serious.
 

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Allergic reactions are nothing to ignore, could be a fatal choice. It depends on the type of reaction as to what the initial treatment is: meds vs avoidance or desensitizing (shots). See an Alllergist.
If the dust is causing problems, WEAR a filtration mask (not one of the cloth/paper ones). Remember, if it affects you on the outside-- it will on the INside too.
Oh! And Welcome to the Forum!
Just about no question goes unanswered here.
DaveH
 

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I had an allergy test years ago and "tree" came up as one of the things I'm allergic to. If I get a sliver, I have to get it out immediately or it becomes quickly inflamed and sometimes painful. I just have to be careful working around wood because I'm not going to give it up.

The most often used power tools are the dust collectors & vacs in my shop and I keep my shop pretty clean. I have to or I can't work down there.

Certain woods are more toxic than others. Black walnut and butternut produce a chemical called juglone. It kills many plants within the tree's root zone, as much as 50-60 feet from the trunk. Humans need to be extra careful about breathing in the dust when working with it and other toxic wood species.

White oak acorns and leaves have been known to be toxic to cattle and, some suspect, horses. There's a whole list of wood species that can cause health problems. But one thing is certain - breathing in wood dust is bad for your health. And if you suspect you have allergies, invest in a good dust collection system and wear a dust mask. The more dust you can keep out of your lungs, the longer you will be able to enjoy woodworking.
 

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I used to ignore the safety first stuff. Now my knees and lower back are causing pain all the time. My hearing is degraded and my skin makes me look 15 years older. Oh - I'm 26. 6 years in the Army is all it took. Lots of ribbons and lots of constant pain to show for it. If I could take it all back I absolutely would. I thought they were just wanting us to avoid acute injuries, like sprained ankles and stuff. Now I realize that's not the only injury there is.

If you have an allergy, take it seriously. Listen to these pros. Get a dust collector, a good mask, etc. Wear gloves, use hearing protection and absolutely wear safety glasses. Think about it - is this REALLY worth losing an eye over?? Do you REALLY want to be "that guy" that is always going "What's that honey? Didn't hear you." OH - or that guy who messed up his lungs so bad that he's always hacking up one while bragging about the cool stuff he built?

I'm not allergic to wood. If I was, I'd still be a wood worker. I'm confident in that. But even as safety-focused as I am now, I'd be stepping it up quite a bit more if I had an allergy.

Curtis
 

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Keep some benadryl around while you're woodworking. It would help stave off anaphylaxis long enough to get you to the hospital if you had a severe reaction.
 

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You say you're allergic, but what are your symptoms?

Walnut throws me into a type of "hypersensitivity" hay-fever reaction. Sneezing, watery eyes, itchy throat/ears, etc. I only cut it with very good ventilation AND a respirator, along with standard ear/eye protection.

However if you're having any sort of anaphylactic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, or trouble swallowing, I would suggest arming yourself with epinepherine from your doctor OR staying away from white oak all together. Analphylaxis (a peanut type "allergy") can kill you within minutes.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks all for the advice. I am going to use a respirator full time now and go see an allergy specialist.
 

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As was mentioned, be very careful because the next time you have a reaction it could come much quicker and much more severe.

My daughter recently had a reaction to tree nuts and within an hour I had her at the hospital. We are waiting for an appointment with an allergist and were warned that the next reaction could require treatment within minutes... and we have an EPI pen (adrenaline shot) to buy us about 5 minutes of breathing time. Benadryl won't always be sufficient.

Hearing about others having reactions when woodworking has me worried that I might some day, as I only recently plunged into woodworking more seriously. My focus now is to eliminate as much sawdust from my shop and use a good mask (with hearing and eye protection). I've bought a few Festool products and dust extractor and am amazed with the reduction in dust when operating them. I have my sights on a Sawstop, but it's just too expensive right now.

A slogan from a sawmill company I used to work for:
Work Safe - Play Safe
 

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I work with some really nasty woods. Go to Grainger or Harbor and get the biggest baddest fan they have. Blow everything out the door and get one of these Google: Resp O Rator
 

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My focus now is to eliminate as much sawdust from my shop and use a good mask (with hearing and eye protection). I've bought a few Festool products and dust extractor and am amazed with the reduction in dust when operating them. I have my sights on a Sawstop, but it's just too expensive right now.
I too have found the beauty of Festool dust pickup. I've tried so many different methods over the years but never found anything close to the effectiveness of what Festools do.

If dust pickup is a concern, when you get the funds for a table saw, you might consider Hammer. From the videos I've seen and from what I've heard, their dust pickup is excellent. Right now their "baby", which normally sells for $5,623.00 is going for $3,399.00, which puts it in line with the SawStop cabinet saw. And if reviews are accurate, Hammer is a much better quality saw than SawStop.
 

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I too have found the beauty of Festool dust pickup. I've tried so many different methods over the years but never found anything close to the effectiveness of what Festools do.

If dust pickup is a concern, when you get the funds for a table saw, you might consider Hammer. From the videos I've seen and from what I've heard, their dust pickup is excellent. Right now their "baby", which normally sells for $5,623.00 is going for $3,399.00, which puts it in line with the SawStop cabinet saw. And if reviews are accurate, Hammer is a much better quality saw than SawStop.
They are good looking saws, but I will be considering a Sawstop for the dust control and for the touch safety feature. I have a lot of years of woodworking ahead of me and would like all my digits for all of those years.
 
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