Bamboo Tips - Tips Area - Safety


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Rule

Use a respirator or dust mask as much as you can bear too.  (Bob Maulucci)

Rule

Never walk away from a lit alcohol lamp or a running power tool.  (Bob Maulucci)

Rule

A safety measure to cutting culms on a table saw is to mount some type of spreader so the culm's edges are spread after being cut and will not close and bind on the saw blade. Chalk it up to learning a lesson the hard way.

Also vital is a pair of $6 rubber gloves specifically designed for handling sharp glass and metal and available at any OSH. These are the only gloves I've found that bamboo will not cut through and are worth their weight in gold.

I also warn folks in my household when I'm about to use bevelers, table saws, lathes and other types of potentially dangerous power tools. I ask that they refrain from coming in the shop until I'm finished.  This started when I was surprised a few times by someone standing behind me without me knowing it due to all the noise. This can very dangerous to yourself and them be surprised like that.  I would add that they might consider  checking on you if there is a long period of silence and I have a habit of emerging from the shop beaming proudly or cursing loudly about how the project went. This also lets them know the coast is clear.

As that Sergeant on Hill Street Blues used to say..."Hey, Be Careful Out There."  (Chris Wohlford the Ultimate Bamboo Fly Rod Library)

Rule

JMHO, but you guys who are climb cutting with a router or attempting to cut something as crooked as a bamboo culm on a table saw are on borrowed time, keep your hospitalization insurance  current because you are going to need it someday! I work with all kinds of power tools all day, every day and both these practices are extremely dangerous, not only to you, but to any bystanders. A few years ago, one of the most experienced employees of Cooper Stair, a highly respected stair building company in the Chicago area, was killed by a piece of oak kicking back in the table saw, he took the piece right in the belly and it not only went clean thru him, it hit his spine while it was at it. When you feed something climb cut thru a router table, it wants to take it away from you and eventually (as Bob found out) it will, if you are real lucky, it won't take your fingers off when it does, but if you have made enough passes thru the machine that it has some sharp corners on it, then don't bet on the outcome. Of course, you are all adults and free to do as you choose, but be careful! 

Many of the folks who are taking up rodmaking these days aren't tool users by trade and aren't as familiar with the damage these things can do as those of us who work with them every day and I don't want to see anyone get damaged by using a power tool in an inappropriate way. Sharp objects are inheritantly dangerous anyway, use them enough and you will get bit, it is not a matter of IF,  it is a matter of WHEN and HOW BAD, that part is up to the user, I know because I have the scars and the hospital bills to prove it. Fortunately for me, I'm a 50 year old carpenter who still has all his fingers full length (although a couple won't stand up straight anymore).  (John Channer)

Rule

As anyone who has seen my little shop knows that I do have a piece of machinery or two, but more importantly, I still have ALL the original external body parts because I am a major safety freak when it comes to using machinery of any kind.

A couple of absolute rules in my shop are:

  1. Absolutely NO long sleeves or jewelry (watches, rings, bracelets, etc.).) are worn while using machinery.  If you have long sleeves, roll them up above the elbow.
  2. NEVER reach into machinery that is in motion.
  3. If you are talking to someone while using machinery (not a good idea, but it happens) NEVER EVER turn your eyes  away from the machine.
  4. If you have long hair, tie it back or put something over it so it won't hang down in front of you and get caught.
  5. This is mainly aimed at using a lathe- ALWAYS be sure that anything in the chuck is clamped TIGHT! When first starting your lathe do not stand in line with anything in the chuck. And also don't stand  in line with the chuck when your lathe bit (tool) first makes contact with whatever you plan to turn down.
  6. ALWAYS, always, be sure to remove the chuck key BEFORE starting your lathe.

I fully realize that I may be out of line saying the aforementioned (preaching to the choir?) but for my own peace of mind, I had to say it.  Fortunately, most of the lathes being used are small ones and are not overly powerful, but you can still get hurt real bad, real quick !!

So much for my 2 cents worth!  (Mike Shaffer)

    Mike, thanks for saying that. It was a good reminder.

    Now, here is my question: many years ago in shop we learned that metal shavings should be kept separate from other trash because when soaked with oil they can combust. I remembered this right after I vacuumed a bunch of nickel silver shavings off the lathe and bench. Has anyone had any experience with this? Under what conditions can this occur? Do I need to worry about the shop vac bursting into flame?  (Jeff Schaeffer)

      I don't think nickel silver will   burn under any conditions, nor will brass.  Steel, however, will burn rapidly when very finely divided, as in 0000 steel wool.  Does not need to be oil soaked, either.  Go outside with a fourth of a steel wool pad (no, not if you're in the drought and fire-stricken areas), tease it apart and light it.  Be ready to drop it into a bucket or something.  The finer, the more likely to burn. 

      I'll never forget this, as my Army reserve unit was given a failing score on an annual inspection because of what one inspector believed was a very serious safety violation - personally, I could not get too excited about 2 steel wool pads, especially since they were 00.  Protested the gig as unrealistic, given all the other really nasty stuff we had, and higher HQ agreed with me.  Even so, my rear took months to recover after the ripping from the Col. 

      Also aluminum shavings will burn when finely divided, and we all recall what magnesium can do.  The critical issue in all 3 cases is not just that they will burn, but that the rate of heat release is  very high; i.e., they go fast!   This property is what makes Christmas trees so dangerous, they release a huge amount of heat very rapidly, much faster than most other materials can absorb and dissipate it, therefore other things ignite,  too.   (Carey Mitchell)

    I learned from my father (a millwright) to use electrical tape to tape the chuck key to the end of the power cord near where it plugs into the wall for anything that uses a chuck key. That way, you have to unplug the machine to use the chuck key, and you have to remove the chuck key to plug the machine back in.   This has saved  me several times when using  my half-inch drill.  (Claude Freaner)

      Great idea. I got a new (old) craftsman and I can't tell you how many times I've started it up and had the chuck key go whipping across the garage.  I'm going out to tape it up now.   (Mike Canazon)

Rule

Ever since my own screw up 2 years ago - only took 5 stitches and another this spring with the rotting plastic containers with high grade ammonia in them, I've been thinking that a lot of us are doing things that are entirely new to us. Using glues, varnishes, high-voltage, power tools, solvents, that may or could cause any one of us to suffer a rod making set back leads me to think that a lot of us have stories that could prevent others from suffering the same fate if shared.

I'm wondering if Todd would consent to add to his "Tip" section another section encapsulating some of the things that we have experienced. Maybe this will keep some of us from loosing body parts, poisoning ourselves or our families.  (Don Anderson)

    Your mail and the one about the MEKO earlier prompts me to repost something I wrote a while back. I don't know how MEKO and MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) compare, but I recall reading that anyone with potential heart problems shouldn't go NEAR that stuff as it can cause spontaneous coronaries. I paid especial  attention to that as my father-in-law is a do-it-yourselfer, he has a serious heart condition, and that's often used as a paint stripper.  (Art Port)

Rule

Just 2 things about traveling in a car.

At night, do not use the extreme left hand lane (fast lane) because MOST drunk drivers who end up driving the wrong way on a divided highway end up in the fast lane going in the wrong direction and 50 %  of the time they don't have their lights on!!

Secondly, do not use your cruise control when the roads are slick (ie...rain, snow, etc.).) because if you hit a slick spot the loss of traction will cause the computer to think it needs to speed up the car.  Once you get traction again, the wheels are turning so fast you can easily lose control (spin out).

Both of these suggestions came to me from a highway patrol officer.  (Mike Shaffer)

    Great suggestions, another to add to the list is do not use locked 4 wheel drive when on icy roads.  The locked drive can cause loss of steering.  I heard this on Click and Clack, their response to a guy in Colorado who kept sliding off the interstate when all the 2 wheelers were passing him.  (Bob McElvain)

Rule

Do not use Super Glue and cotton Cable cord sold by Ace. Last night I used a drop on a splice of cable cord used as a drive belt for my binder.  That drop created a visible vapor that nearly blinded me.  Those two products mixed are very toxic.  This is requiring a doctors visit on my part and it will for you too.  The Ace product is  Cable Cord # 71638  (Mark Dyba)

    Wow.  I hope you will be all right.  I have seen a reaction similar to that when I use super glue to seal the deer hair heads of some of my flies (bullet head flies and trimmed deer hair patterns).  It only seems to happen with certain colors of dyed hair.   Very weird, and a little spooky.  I've never kept it close enough to get it in my eyes, fortunately.  But a single drop does create a pretty significant puff of smoke.

    I hope your eyes recover without permanent damage.  (Jason Swan)

      Be careful of dyes. Some of these are hugely reactive. I could be wrong but I think I recall reading Alfred Nobel was a dyes chemist before he got into gunpowder?  Dyes also affect the strength of materials. I know the mantle of a red climbing rope is not quite as strong as a blue one for e.g. Sobering thought if you like to color coordinate your crag side apparel.  (Tony Young)

    Thanks for the heads up and I hope this doesn't cause any permanent damage to your vision. As a photographer I value what vision I have left  more than I ever used to.

    For years I kept an old pair of glasses  as a reminder of when I was a teenager while working on a heavy motocross bike I became pinned under the bike, hot exhaust across my chest and gas dripping down the side of my head. When I finally got out from under the bike my first reaction was to throw the large 14" screwdriver in my hand at the cement floor, the equal and opposite effect being that the pointy end of the driver embedded itself into the left lens of my glasses. To this day I thank God I had glasses on.

    Needless to say, I've never thrown a tool again since, although the temptation was there more times than I can count.  (Shawn Pineo)

    I'm sorry that you had to experience that, and I hope your eyes are OK.

    This made me wonder what else in the cane shop is hazardous.  I used to worry about acetone, but I was informed that you can take a few shots of that without ill other than getting get snockered.  The other obvious is rotating machinery, but what else is out there in the shop, as far as chemicals  are concerned, that is hazardous?  I use brass black, PU glue, flame with MAPP gas..... makes me wonder?  (Kyle Druey)

      Heavy doses of sawdust. Especially if you are working with any spalted or exotic wood. Wear a good filtered mask.  (Steve Trauthwein)

        Absolutely, unless one desires to find themselves experiencing flu-like symptoms. The commonly available "dust" masks are not. They are "comfort" masks, designed for allergy sufferers. Use either a good respirator, or buy masks that are rated to be dust masks for wood particulate, etc. Most of what we do occurs in such small exposures as to be of no effect. Don’t eat it, don’t wear it, don’t bathe in it, don't breathe it covers all potential hazards.  (Martin-Darrell)

          Yes, this is true.  I have seen some pretty dramatic photographs illustrating this point.  A golf course employee was asked to mix "pesticide" in his usual manner.  This particular individual decided that a dust mask  was acceptable.  Turns out the "pesticide" was not a pesticide at all, but rather some type of nontoxic dye that, when viewed under a black light (I believe), showed up quite vividly.  As I said, it was very dramatic.  His dust mask actually worked against him, as it did not conform properly to his face.  The air he breathed in followed the path of least resistance... through the sides above his cheek bones and straight to his nose.  In other words, the mask served to "straight pipe" the air amongst which were airborne dye particles (read "chemical") to his respiratory tract.  Even when they do seem to fit well they are little  more than what M-D points out.  (Carl DiNardo)

Rule

One of the practices for splitting which has been recommended by several on the list, that of ramming a culm into a secured knife blade, is very dangerous. surly this practice should not be recommended to beginners, or anyone else, for that matter. It's another one of those tips which should be disregarded or ignored. there are many other ways to prepare strips.  (Jerry Foster)

    The Knife-in-the-vice method is usually used with a deliberately DULL knife.  You don't want a sharp edge on this, as it's more of a prying/wedging tool than a cutting tool.  (Rick Funcik)

      Generally speaking, every time I manage to cut myself it is with a dull knife. The only way I would even consider this would be to turn the froe backwards. All of the other methods work so well, though, that I just don't see the need to do it at all.  (Larry Blan)

    Instead of a knife blade just stick a thin shafted screwdriver in something  secure and push your bamboo onto that.   Works great, just ask anyone who has seen me do it or has taken up this splitting method when I showed them.  (Bret Reiter)

Rule

I have been using a great pair of gloves for working with cane. They are surgeon's gloves. Cut proof, stab proof, and thin as saran wrap. You can get them from any medical supply. A bit pricey by the box of a hundred, but ten guys can split it up and have a lifetime supply for a few bucks.  (Mark Bolan)

Rule

Does anyone know off hand what chemical, etc. is found in Cocobolo wood that tends to make the dust somewhat toxic?  I was told many moons ago but can't pull it out of the memory bank.  Expiring minds want to know!  (Mike Shaffer)

    I to seam to recall that Cocobolo has a certain amount of "Toxicity" in the dust. It along with most woods from Africa and south America can cause problems with some people, ( basically I believe all wood dust can, but some are actually poisonous). I have always held the safety rule of wearing a good dust mask when sanding, turning or cutting any "Exotic" wood. It may be over kill but better safe than sorry. Know it wasn't much of an answer but hope it helps.  (Jimi Genzling)

    Here is one list of toxic woods.

    I can second iroko, it really caught me badly one time.  (Reed Curry)

    The most common toxic (causing allergic reactions) woods are exotic hardwoods that are dense and oily.   Cocobolo, rosewood, bubinga, etc. are common examples.  These can cause breathing problems in sensitive people if the sawdust is inhaled and skin rashes in some cases of contact with the wood oils.

    Then you have your "narcotic" hardwoods like satinwood, it's smoke is a sedative and will put you to sleep, you don't want to burn that in your fireplace.

    Finally, you have your "just plain hazardous to your health for assorted reasons" hardwoods like pink ivory.  If caught with it in your possession in some tribal areas you could be put to death because it is reserved for tribal chiefs only.  Amazingly, someone thinks it is worth the risk because it can be purchased in small quantities in the US.  (George Bourke)

    The toxicity is there for a reason of course...

    If it wasn't toxic,  it would be worm casts on the floor of the forest, and it wouldn't be so damned attractive to furniture makers, boat builders and rodmakers.

    I had a bad experience with a native wood here in New Zealand - Kowhai. My advice is if you get a metallic or bitter taste in your mouth or throat when exposed to sawdust, play safe, stop and do something to stop the dust.  In my case it took four hours or so for the full effects to develop, and about 36 hours before I had come right.   I think I took most of the toxin through the skin, as I don't believe I could have breathed or swallowed any significant amount of dust.  (Dave Kennedy)

Rule

Last weekend I finished wrapping one tip section on my  first rod. For applying varnish to the wraps, I use a small testers model paint bottle that I cleaned out and filled with thinned varnish. This way, after varnishing, I can recap the bottle for later use. I place the bottle of thinned varnish into a thick bowl filled with boiling water to "nuke" the varnish.

Well, one of my wraps had a pretty large bubble next to the guide foot. Even though I do have some small bubbles here and there, that wrap really bugged me. Tuesday night I cut the wrap off and rewrapped that guide (I am so fast at wrapping now that I can wrap an entire guide in one night).

Last night after getting home from work, I sat down at the kitchen table (where I wrap) to get things ready to apply varnish to the new wrap (my wife and children were out). Got my sable brush out, bottle of thinner and unscrewed the cap on my bottle of varnish,  but left it sitting on top of the bottle to reduce evaporation. Got my bowl of water and stuck it in the microwave for about 90 seconds. This usually gets the water very boiling hot.

I placed the bowl of boiling water next to my wrapping rack and started to put the bottle of varnish into the boiling hot water. Well, I guess I filled the bowl a little more than I should have and the hot water was burning the hell out of my finger tips and this resulted in me accidentally knocking the metal cap off into the hot water. The water was so hot. I decided to leave the cap in until it cooled off.

I varnished the wrap and it looks much better now, no big bubble next to the guide foot. About 30-40 minutes later I was going to apply another coat of varnish to the wrap. I took the bottle of varnish and the cap out of the bowl of water. I did notice a slight oily film on top of the water, but did not really think much more about it.

I placed the bowl back into the microwave for 90 seconds and hit the start button. While the water was getting hot, I decided to refill my coffee cup. As I was pouring my coffee, I heard a muffled boom (IE: light explosion). It was loud enough to scare me and I turned around to the microwave and the glass window was saturated with water vapor. I opened the door and after all the steam cleared, there sat my bowl completely empty of any water.  The smell of varnish/thinner filled the kitchen. The water had been blown out all inside the oven. What a mess.

My first thought was "my wife is going to kill me". Several years ago I was dying some quail feathers with golden yellow dye and spilled the mixture all over our kitchen counter tops (which were white, now a light golden yellow). I was almost exiled from the kitchen area after that.

I would guess that if someone was using a toothpick, for example, to apply varnish and a single drop fell into the water, it would be at least twice than what I had mix into the water. Too much of this stuff in your water bowl will blow the whole door off of a microwave.  (Dave Alexander)

Rule

While I was reworking the tips site, I read something about safety concerns and thought I'd open the discussion up to the group.  Does anyone have stories or concerns regarding any part of the rodmaking craft?  I think that it would be a good "service" to all those new (and not so new) rodmakers to be able to see some of these stories.

I guess the one thing that I would add is that bamboo is dang sharp once you start planing it.  On my first couple of rods, I ended up planing until I'd slash a finger while trying to hold a strip in the groove of a nonadjustable form.  Well, if blood makes a rod cast better, that first rod oughta cast like a dream!   (Todd Talsma)

    Obviously the first safety priority is to avoid accidents and injuries. A friend's shop accident story is about what happens AFTER an accident occurs.

    My friend accidentally cut a finger off  with his table saw. He was home alone at the time, and rather than calling for help, he picked up the severed finger, wrapped everything with a towel, and decided to drive himself to the hospital - about 10 miles from his home. Everything went well for the first few miles, but he eventually succumbed to the pain & blood loss and passed out at the wheel. Fortunately he didn't hit anybody else. Unfortunately, he hit a tree so hard that he broke his neck and the car caught fire.  The fire department rescued him and took him to the hospital, where he spent the next 6 months recovering and having several operations, including skin grafts and plastic surgery. He never looked the same, and 10 years later he still limps.

    The scary part for me is that I'm the kind of guy who would have done the same thing!

    So if you do get hurt, swallow your pride, stay calm, and CALL FOR HELP.  (Tom Bowden)

      I have a friend who's wife made a plaque for the wall of his shop.  It reads: "Do not use remaining fingers for push sticks!"  (Robert Kope)

      I find as I get older, Help is taking a more prominent part of my 4 letter word vocabulary. It is there right behind ouch and food. <g>  (Rich Jezioro)

    Sometimes I think that there may be more hazards in a typical rodmaker's shop then the typical woodworker's.

    Consider that many of our tools are homemade.   I'm no electrician, but my oven was homemade using Wayne's instructions.  One thing I noticed when building it is that where you attach the wires to the  mica strip  is exposed and uninsulated.  Want to make sure I keep my fingers off of those two terminals, don't I?  And what about my rough  beveller and sharpening wheel? I wired them up, too.

    The power tools you would buy for woodworking have all sorts of shields and guards to help keep one's fingers out of harms way.  We try to address safety too when we make our own contraptions and machines, but as hobbyists, most of us don't have as large of a product liability department as Delta, Jet or Craftsman.  Additionally, most of our work pieces are pretty small. A wood insert is 3 1/2" long by 5/8" and that thumbnail bit is spinning how fast?  And the end cap for a wood tube is 3/4" thick and roughly 2" in diameter.  How much of a shoulder do I need to cut on that?  Most of us have built jigs of one sort or another to help solve the problem, but it is still a case of small work pieces, big hands, and sharp objects spinning at high speeds.

    Clutter in the shop is another problem.  I tend to clean up after a project rather than as I go, so there is something always in the way.  Since my shop is in the garage I also have to allow for storage space for "stuff".  My wife is always bringing something else out for storage.  Sometimes it's so bad that I think my wife has dreams of world conquest.  Once she has fully occupied my shop, she'll turn her eye towards Canada.  (I'm not so worried about Canada as I am about having to build all those shelves.)  But a cluttered workspace is full of hazards and traps.  This is one that I really have to work on.

    And, lastly, we use a lot of flames and a lot of inflammable liquids. Acetone, alcohol, and mineral spirits are all found in my shop along with propane torches and alcohol lamps.

    Those are just a couple of thoughts on a subject that has always been a concern.  (Tim Wilhelm)

      I just wired up an oven.  My strip heaters were from a surplus store and didn't have standard terminals.  Instead they had wires coming out from the end of the strips.

      The clerk at a local HVAC supply house suggested "ceramic wire nuts" to splice them to high temp wire.  It works fine and they are only a couple of bucks for a bag of ten.  (Joe Handwerker)

        Ceramic terminal blocks are also available if you find yourself in the position of having to make electrical connections in the hot section of the oven. They are just a couple of dollars apiece, and, just like the ceramic terminal nuts, they are made for the task.  (Larry Blan)

    While Bob Nunley could tell safety stories all night long, even the most careful of us have had our mishaps.  If you remember last year's SRG, I cut the heck outta three fingers while rough planing.  I'd remind folks that while there are lots of ways to cut and burn yourself while making rods, failing to pay attention while using a lathe will get you dead.  Luckily, my only mishap only cost me four stitches.  (Harry Boyd)

      I have learned the hard way to always use gloves when I am planing. I am in the process of making my first rod. I have started practice on some bamboo and found out why the Vietcong use them for pongee sticks!!! My hands have razor cuts all over.... I guess its the fun of making rods!!!!  (Bill Tagye)

      One of the hazards of larger lathes (3 hp or so, like you might find on a common and popular 13 x 40 or 14 x 40 lathe) that I often found reference to was "ripping off an arm".  Of course, even with a small lathe one has to be careful of fingers, hands, and projectiles from the lathe.  (George Bourke)

        All to true, George. To make matters worse, I suspect that I am not the only person who has acquired poor safety habits on the small lathes. There is no doubt in my mind that these same habits, transferred to a "real" (read that as having a powerful motor) lathe, would lead to an ugly situation.  (Larry Blan)

          If you run across a sure fire cure for leaving the chuck key in the chuck when you turn on the lathe.  Think of me and let me know.  (Ralph Moon)

            The one my father taught me, and I use today on my portable 1/2 inch drill, is to use electrical tape to tape the chuck to the power cord about 6 inches from the plug.  In order to change bits, you have to unplug the drill...  Probably takes an extra 5 seconds, but there's no way the drill will accidentally start when I'm changing bits.  (Claude Freaner)

              Like mine, smart dad.  I remember, every time I violate the rule what mine told me when he gave me my first pocket knife, "Never, never cut toward yourself."  Doh! Did it again!.  (Darrol Groth)

                I just ran downstairs and tried an idea that I've had, but never tried. I have a small bungee cord that came in an  assortment pack. It's about 10" long and has enough strength to pull the chuck key out of the chuck and allows it to hang high enough from the lathe to be out of the way. I have a 7x12 mini lathe that sets under the basement stairs. I hooked one end on a nail in one of the stair runners, the other on the key. The bungee cord pulls the key up and to the left out of the way. I know my toes will like this!! Too bad all lathes don't have electronic speed controllers! It's nice to be able to start out slow!  (David Dziadosz)

                Keep the chuck key on a short piece of bungee cord on your wrist so you can't leave it in the chuck.  Then take it off before you turn the lathe on. Not perfect, obviously . . . .  (Brian Creek)

                Rig a "Safety Switch" where you have to insert the chuck key into the "Safety Switch" to be able to turn the lathe on. A Micro switch attached to a block of wood with a hole in it for the key works for me. The key has to be inserted far enough to activate the switch or else the lathe won't come on. Same for Drill Press.  (Dick Fuhrman)

                There was a fella on the 7x10 mini lathe list that came up with a solution for that.  He drilled a small pilot hole on the end of the chuck key, then fitted a spring and a pin into it.  Kinda like the chuck keys for drill presses and such.  Once you take the hand pressure off the chuck key, the spring loaded pin pushes the chuck key up out of the chuck.  (Mark Wendt)

                Just use a spring loaded chuck key.  The aligning stud is spring loaded ...If you don't apply pressure it cannot be left in the chuck, it just falls out!  (Bill Tagye)

                The problem of the chuck key left in the lathe when turned on is one of the easy easy problems to solve:  You can either buy or make a safety chuck key.  This type of key has a spring loaded plunger in the tip that goes into the chuck.  To insert the key you have to put some light pressure on chuck key to depress the plunger so  that the chuck key will 'go home' - the nifty part is that without the pressure, the plunger will kick the chuck key out of the chuck all by itself!!  (Mike Shaffer)

Rule

My question is, and I apologize if it sounds stupid, but has anyone ever used a propane or MAPP gas torch inside their shop? Other than the pungent smell of burning cane, is it a real danger carbon monoxide wise if I only do one culm? Better safe than sorry, but I got some serious work to do here and there's no way I am going outside! (No, I am not the one behind in the recent thread).  (Bob Maulucci)

    Unless you're single, or SWMBO is out of town for a couple of weeks, I don't think the odor of cooking bamboo in the house would go over too well! I HAVE used a torch inside, but for soldering, not flaming.  Do you have a garage you could do it in?  The first rodbuilding class I took, we had snow on the ground, and it was pretty cold, but with coats and gloves we flamed everyone's culms outdoors.  (Neil Savage)

    I would consider this to be an extreme fire hazard. Yes, and I find the fumes pretty caustic. Why not look for a friend’s garage, out of the wind, or go by a local warehouse or machine shop and ask a favor. I did this one year and even drew an audience and sold a rod as result.  (Timothy Troester)

      I have done about 50 culms in the garage in my time, just never tried it in the basement before. Guess the consensus is go out there!  (Bob Maulucci)

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but I would have thought that burning propane produced carbon DIOXIDE and water, like most open burned hydrocarbons, and that that was extremely unlikely to do you any harm. (Peter McKean)

          You are correct. It is only incomplete combustion that causes carbon MONOXIDE. That is why it is necessary to keep all heaters, vented and unvented, clean and adjusted properly. Cars and other equipment with internal combustion engines have incomplete combustion in the combustion chamber, that is why they produce carbon monoxide.

          I worked for over thirty years in the R&D department of a major heat & air manufacturer and tested designs for many type of heating equipment. To this day I can walk into a building and sense if a piece of heating  equipment in burning correctly or not. I have cleaned many unvented heaters for people that I was just visiting. Their senses were dulled by having been exposed to the fumes for so long. I guess that I am sensitized to carbon monoxide as I can feel it.  (Dick Fuhrman)

    Rob Hoffhines flamed a rod in a snow storm and got an absolutely fantastic pattern on it.   Who knows what you'll get if you don't try?  (Brian Creek)

    I've flamed cane in the shop several times.  Not because of cold, but because of windy conditions.  I don't like trying to keep the flaming consistent when there's a stiff  breeze blowing.

    As long as you have an exhaust fan of some sort running, you'll be fine.  You will wind up smelling like smoke, but hey, that's the price we pay.  (Harry Boyd)

    I do it in the basement all the time. My wife and kids say the cane makes the house smell good.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

      I always work in the basement and even if  I don't flame my cane, I still use the propane torch to heat my high tech heat treating oven.  It will be burning for over 1/2 hour.  And besides what is wrong with the smell of cooking cane.  I love it and I too think it perfumes the house with a delightful smell.  (Ralph Moon)

    My shed is 20'x20' and is heated by an unvented propane heater and I've had no problems as yet. I don't think a propane torch would asphyxiate  you no longer than it would take to flame a culm. Might 'smoke you out though'.   (Don Greife)

    I've flamed somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty rods worth of bamboo (call it forty culms) with a propane torch inside my 12'x16' shop, winter and summer. Most of them have been turned in my lathe while flaming them, no fires and no health problems that I know of, your mileage may vary, proceed at your own risk.  (John Channer)

      To each his own but I have no open flames in my shop. Maybe I am subject to more lapses and spasms than most but I have been on fire before when I sit on a candle. Oops! I never realized before how often I sit down without looking first.  (Timothy Troester)

    In a pinch I have flamed in my basement shop.

    Took a lot of grief from those smelling it upstairs but did not set off the smoke alarms (maybe I had better check those). I do have a small exhaust fan running in the basement shop so I could still breath.  (Gordon Koppin)

    When propane is burned, carbon monoxide is not one of the byproducts.  I can't say the same for MAPP gas, since I don't know what other fuel is included in it.  The biggest worry you have with a propane flame is it's consuming of oxygen.  That's why the area you use propane heaters in should always have adequate ventilation.  Propane is not a noxious gas like natural gas, and it burns very clean.  Crack a window or shop door a little bit, and you should be all right.  (Mark Wendt)

    The primary concern that I would have about flaming cane indoors is the safety of having the propane tank indoors.  When I lived in Alaska I knew a guy who was severely burned because he brought his propane take inside to keep it from freezing (propane freezes at around -40F).  During the night the regulator let loose some propane, it ignited and his whole cabin went up in flames.  I've been told since that regulators are made to be used outdoors and it isn't unusual for them to release propane.  (Mark Lenarz)

      I don't think a hand held torch is such a problem, just unscrew the torch from the tank (the 16 oz. or so size you get in the hardware) and  listen/sniff after a minute.  I wouldn't try it with a 20# tank and hose setup.  The little cylinders let off a bit of gas when you unscrew the torch, but it should seal almost instantly.  You could also dip the end in water and look for bubbles if you've got a stuffy nose.  (Neil Savage)

      On portable tanks, like the ones you use for a grill or a torch, the easiest way to avoid this, not that I'm sure it happens, is to close the valve on the tank, which should be done anyway when the tank is not in use.  (Mark Wendt)

    What in the heck are you guys doing that generates so much smoke, vapor, or noxious emissions? I now am convinced that I am not heating my cane enough... Alternatively, I have the largest workshop on the list (doubtful) or the draftiest basement (distinct possibility).  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I do it all the time, but I do it in my bathroom as there is an exhaust fan and no burnable surfaces.  Not a problem in the least and the smell of burning cane is, to my nose, a pleasant one.  (Joe West)

    Well, being in the mechanical contracting business I can tell you that flaming cane with MAPP gas, propane, or acetylene in a semi closed environment is probably no worse than soldering copper pipe, especially since solder flux gives off nasty zinc chloride fumes. After 27 years of soldering pipe I can still breathe a little! The gas itself burns pretty clean, and as yet OSHA has not required us to wear respirators even in close quarters. The smell/toxicity of the burning cane though, that's another story.

    Cough, cough...  (Tom Vagell)

Rule

Over the years I've had 2 propane tanks vent - thankfully both outdoors away from sources of ignition. In both cases, the propane expanded from temperature increases and vented from the Pressure Safety Valve. In each case, I was able to remove the tank to a safe location, turn the tank upside down and blow off some of the propane. The pressure safety valve reseated and all was fine. In both cases the tanks had been just filled within the past hour or so. In both cases, it was hooked to my trailer. The tanks warmed up and the high pressure occurred. Tanks that are enclosed in confined spaces like motor homes, truck campers, garages and the like would have caused an explosion. I know of 2 cases where such an event did happen - one guy killed and the other severely burnt.

The newer tanks cannot be vented as I did above as there is now a secondary valve located in the shutoff valve that requires the hose assembly to be connected for the propane to flow. In this case, you must get the tank to a propane filing station where the host assembly is constructed to vent the tank.

Further, I had a similar failure with the small propane bottles. In this case, the valve wouldn't reseat after the torch was removed. I got it outside, turned it upside down and blew off the propane to a safe location.

Failures similar to the above are rare but can happen. Heads up.  (Don Anderson)

Rule

Maybe this will be of help and save someone some grief.

Don Schneider

The following chart appeared in American Woodturner June 1990,

Originally posted to rec.woodworking by Bruce Taylor taylor@tpwosf.tay1.dec.com

Wood

Reaction

Site

Potency

Source

Incidence

Bald Cypress

S

R

+

D

R

Balsam Fir

S

E,S

+

LB

C

Beech

S,C

E,S,R

++

LB,D

C

Birch

S

R

++

W,D

C

Black Locust

I,N

E,S

+++

LB

C

Blackwood

S

E,S

++

W,D

C

Boxwood

S

E,S

++

W,D

C

Cashew

S

E,S

+

W,D

R

Cocobolo

I,S

E,S,R

+++

W,D

C

Dahoma

I

E,S

++

W,D

C

Ebony

I,S

E,S

++

W,D

C

Elm

I

E,S

+

D

R

Goncalo Alves

S

E,S

++

W,D

R

Greenheart

S

E,S

+++

W,D

C

Hemlock

C

R

?

D

U

Iroko

I,S,P

E,S,R

+++

W,D

C

Mahogany

S,P

S,R

+

D

U

Mansonia

I,S

E,S

+++

W,D

C

 

N

 

+

D

 

Maple (Spalted)

S,P

R

+++

D

C

Mimosa

N

 

?

LB

U

Myrtle

S

R

++

LB,D

C

Oak

S

E,S

++

LB,D

R

 

C

 

?

D

U

Obeche

I,S

E,S,R

+++

W,D

C

Oleander

DT

N,C

++++

D,W,LB

C

Olivewood

I,S

E,S,R

+++

W,D

C

Opepe

S

R

+

D

R

Padauk

S

E,S,R

+

W,D

R

Pau Ferro

S

E,S

+

W,D

R

Peroba Rosa

I

R,N

++

W,D

U

Purpleheart

N

 

++

W,D

C

Quebracho

I

R,N

++

LB,D

C

 

C

 

?

D

U

Redwood

S,P

E,S,R

++

D

R

 

C

 

?

D

U

Rosewoods

I,S

E,S,R

++++

W,D

U

Satinwood

I

E,S,R

+++

W,D

C

Sassafras

S

R

+

D

C

 

DT

N

+

D,W,LB

R

 

C

 

?

D

U

Sequoia

I

R

+

D

R

Snakewood

I

R

++

W,D

R

Spruce

S

R

+

W,D

R

Walnut, Black

S

E,S

++

W,D

C

Wenge

S

E,S,R

+

W,D

C

Willow

S

R,N

+

D,W,LB

U

Western Red Cedar

S

R

+++

D,LB

C

Teak

S,P

E,S,R

++

D

C

Yew

I

E,S

++

D

C

 

DT

N,C

++++

W,D

C

Zebrawood

S

E,S

++

W,D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------

REACTION:                                       SITE:                 SOURCE:            INCIDENCE:

I  - irritant                                       S - skin             D  - dust                 R - rare
S  - sensitizer                                 E - eyes            LB - leaves,bark     C - common
C  - Nasopharyngeal Cancer         R - respiratory  W  - wood              U - uncommon
P  - pheumonitis, alveolitis           C - cardiac
     (hypersensitivity pneumonia)
DT - direct toxin
N  - nausea, malaise

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Reference:

1. Woods Toxic to Man, author unknown
2. Woods, B., Calnan, C.D., "Toxic Woods." Br. Journal of Dermatology 1976
3. ILO Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety 1983
4. Lame, K., McAnn, M., AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, AMA 1985
5. Poisondex, Micromedix Inc. 1990

Rule

I was wanting to poll for anyone who may have had or has a similar problem with their wrist while casting. I have heard of Tennis Elbow, writers cramp, TMJ, lineman's ankle, Lid tightener's fingers. Everything Patrick McManus could say about his life and whatever someone on purpose hurts while articulating their special movement to do the job.  At 35 I thought I was impervious to this pain. Oops!

I don't know if a brace is good enough to broadcast finesse of a line, but have thought of it, perhaps circumstantial, as someone who is learning from green.  It is the part of the hand that meets the wrist between where the bottom of the thumb and index finger meet(top of the wrist and hand). It hurts like heck to give a good handshake too.

Any advice? (besides becoming ambidextrous?)  (John McFarlin)

    You can call it what you wish, but, my friend, you have it.  I talked with my fly fishing orthopedic surgeon friend a few  months ago about whether fly fishing caused problems like this and he replied he treated 6-8 cases every year.  I am no physician, but I seem to recall that continued repetitive motion exacerbates the problem.  Rest is great, but if I were you I'd see a doctor about it and perhaps a course of physical therapy may shorten the down time.  If you can't cast, now is a good time for it.  (Ralph Moon)

      As a physical therapist, I thought I would respond to this question.  It sounds as though you might have a condition call DeQuervain's tenosynovitis (keep in mind that is only an educated guess, since I haven't seen you). It is an inflammation of the tendons that cross the wrist and move the thumb.  It is caused by repetitive movements. Often treated with a splint and some rest, sometimes cortisone or if really severe surgical intervention.  You may want to Google DeQuervain's tenosynovitis as there is a bunch of stuff on the web about it.  It may be worthwhile seeing an orthopedist who deals with hand injuries or a physical therapist if you are in a state where physical therapists can  treat without an MD's referral; either should be able to suggest a proper splint.   (Tom Mohr)

    Carpal Tunnel Surgery took care of my problem like that.  (Tony Spezio)

    I had a similar problem.  Actually it showed up at work first.  Trying to maneuver a mouse was painful.  Then casting became a problem.  That went on for 3 or 4 months before I mentioned it to my chiropractor.  One adjustment fixed it.  He told me to put a big rubber band around my fingers and push them open against the rubber band repeatedly to exercise my hand occasionally.  That works for me.  See a chiropractor before you let someone cut on you.  (David Bolin)

    When one door closes another opens!

    You should be able to cast with either hand. Now is your chance to practice with you uninjured hand.

    It will be a wonderful tool when your bad hand heals. You will be able to throw a powerful positive curve cast with your off hand and give you extra distance reach in that direction. It will also allow you to continue fishing while it  heals.  (Dave Norling)

    It certainly may be deQuervain or some other "repetitive stress disorder". Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is required if you have nerve compression at the wrist and prolonged numbness of fingers 1-4 (often first during night time). You certainly could try local cold-pack or ice and stretching and training of flexor tendons (bend wrist "upwards"). You also could try to change forefinger against the grip instead of thumb when casting? (Tapani Salmi)

      I'm not an MD, but couldn't you also take a few anti-inflammatory pills for some quick, maybe short-term relief??  (Harry Boyd)

Rule

I just got back from the local grocery store and while walking through the pharmacy, I noticed some small bottles of "Turpentine". I remember a little old lady across the street, when I was a kid, used to make a liniment, that had turpentine in it.  Must still be some old timers  around making the liniment,  but, then again, there was a lot of dust on the bottles. Well, I got to wondering this must be some pretty clean stuff, to be in the pharmacy, for some kind of medical purposes.

I know other rod makers are using turpentine for thinner. But I can't remember, will it work as a thinner for Helmsman?  (David Dziadosz)

    I have used it to thin varnish several times, but don't recall the brand. I like the smell a lot better than mineral spirits, reminds me of being out in the woods.  (Carey Mitchell)

      I like turps better too.  You can get a better price @ lumber yard.  However, the best stuff I've found is Citrus/Orange turps, maybe Jim Payne's secret.  Made by Eco-House and found in art stores, Hobby Lobby, etc.  Smells just like oranges.  (Darrol Groth)

        BTW, I recall that I got mine at a hobby/art store and the price was $4 or 5 for about 2 oz.  I'll bet what you found is a lot cheaper.  (Carey Mitchell)

          $1.49 for 4oz  Gerbes Pharmacy (Kroger Brand) I never would have guessed I'd find it there!  (David Dziadosz)

Rule

My Dear Rod Making Friends,

I want to caution all of you on the dangers of using some brands of adhesives.

I have used EPON for years and think it's a great glue for fly rods. However it's powerful stuff. Whenever I glue a rod I always seem to get some glue on my hands no matter what precautions I take, and I know that I must have absorbed some of those chemicals into my system.

I switched to Titebond about a year ago. I like Titebond and strongly recommend it.

About the time I changed glues I noticed I wasn't feeling well, so I visited the doctor. The diagnosis was a rare form of cancer.

I can't say with certainty that it's cause was Epon but I believe it so.

My rod building days are pretty much finished, but I beg you dear friends to be cautious in your choice of adhesives.  (Mark Dyba)

    Thank you for the strong warning. Sorry to hear about your cancer. To be honest with you that was one of the other concerns I had about glues. The last time I used URAC I had gotten it on my hands and my ears were ringing the next day. I think that was attributed to by the glue being absorbed thru my pores. We cannot be too careful in the rod building trade when it comes to turning exotic woods, bluing  chemicals, glues, etc. etc.  (Mark Heskett)

      Given the danger (known and unknown) of various chemicals, including glue, it seems to me to be sensible to use some kind of protective barrier.  I got over 2,000,000 (million) hits on "protective hand cream" just now.  Latex gloves are cheap and readily available in the US, though I can't speak for the rest of the world.  Nitrile gloves are only slightly more expensive and are a lot more resistant to solvents.  I find I can use a pair several times if I'm careful.  Hearing protection and protective eye wear are important when using power tools, and the eye protection is also important when using chemicals and finishes.  (I worked in a physics lab for a couple of years and I used to find solder splashes on my glasses regularly.  Not a chemical per se, but it could have been a real problem if I hadn't been wearing them.)   I could go on, and on, and..., but it's all been said before.  (Neil Savage)

        I wore protective gloves. I don't care how careful you are, you're going to get some of that stuff on you. What I want the guys to understand is that not all glues are dangerous. Stay away from those that are.  (Mark Dyba)

          I understand your point.  I've said more than once on this list that there are a number of professional boat builders who can't use certain products no matter how much protective gear they wear.

          My point, and maybe I wasn't completely clear, is that things we consider "safe" may in fact not be.  IBM told us for years that the noise of high-speed printers wasn't dangerous.  I guess that's why I only lost PART of my hearing.  Chemicals like we used for solvents were "safe" too, but they aren’t now.  Like 1,1,1 Trichloroethane, which we ordered and used by the gallon.  (Neil Savage)

    Epoxy resins and hardeners can produce sensitivity in many people after long term exposure. Many workers and hobbyists in boatbuilding are now restricted in their use of epoxies due to acquired allergies (see here). I can no longer use Acraglas due to severe skin sensitivity, after years of using it without any problems.

    The use of protective equipment is very important, avoiding skin contact and especially sanding dust. The resins can migrate through latex and vinyl gloves, nitrile appears to offer the best protection. There are also some studies that show that the use of solvents to remove uncured resin actually drives the resin deeper into the skin and though the gloves.

    It is very important to reduce exposure to any of the chemicals we use at work or play. If I had been more careful in the past I probably would not have problems now.   (Harry Walters)

      I agree that Nitrile gloves are the best match for many solvents and adhesives. I was in the space industry for 17 years and supervised techs handling a variety of adhesives and solvents. We used to ignore warnings and just use the stuff. I'm now in chemo for lymphoma. whether they are related I do not know, however I now use protection when handling or breathing  around these items. While latex glove are cheap and do offer some protection they are actually very porous to a number of solvents and may even completely dissolve. Nitrile and neoprene have much better solvent resistance.

      MSDSs are available from all manufactures and even as hobbyists, we should try to obtain them and understand what we are using. What you don't know can cause serious health and even death if we are not careful.   (David Boedeker)

        I don't remember who said it, or  where I saw it  (maybe on this list?) but the quote as I remember was "If you can smell it, you probably shouldn't breathe it."  (Neil Savage)

Rule

This is an embarrassing question.  Over the past year or so, which corresponds with about how long I've been messing with bamboo, I've had a mild rash on my hands and forearms. Annoying, but not bad enough to see a doctor about.

Well, once I started scraping and sanding my glued blank (URAC), I broke out in a full blown rash on my arms, abdomen, lower back and tops of thighs.  The kind of itchy rash you would do anything to get rid of.

Anybody ever have similar reactions to bamboo dust or glue dust?

Not that I'll let it stop me.  I've ordered some Tyvek suits and good masks, so I'll do whatever it takes to finish this first rod and go on to make many more.  (Reed Guice)

    I do not use URAC, and have never come in contact with it, but from all the list's posts about it I do know that the WALNUT SHELL content is a factor you may need to evaluate. If you have a nut allergy, walnuts are a major contributor to the problem (So are peanuts, though).

    A young relative of mine goes into shock when a peanut butter jar is opened... you may have a milder, but irritating reaction to the acids contained in walnut shells. Or... not... You might want to be tested.  (Mike St. Clair)

      Good suggestion, Mike.  In this case, I used the liquid catalyst, not the walnut shell. I think a warning concerning the walnut shell for those that might have a nut allergy is very appropriate, particularly after final scraping and sanding.  (Reed Guice)

        I have never had the type of reaction you mention from bamboo or other woods, but have had something very similar from a very different source.  My rash was clearly hives and came from Gatorade, of all things.  The locations were just what you describe.  I had taken to drinking Gatorade for electrolyte replacement while running in our hot summer sun and the rash just kept getting worse and worse.  Drove off to fish in the fall in cool weather without Gatorade and the rash went away in 2 days after I had "enjoyed" it for well over a month.

        I mention this just because you might have a source of the rash quite separate from bamboo an URAC.  (Tim Anderson)

          Watch the dust from many different species of wood.  I was turning some Cocobolo one evening a few years ago.  The next day I had a poison ivy like rash all over my forearms... I was like what the heck, I hadn't been in the woods recently.  I did some research and quickly found out that it was the Cocobolo dust... Anyway, I still turn it, but just more cautiously.  (But I haven’t had any problems with bamboo / boo dust... except for the splinters.. hahah)

          Tim, wow...  Watch out for that Gatorade..   never would have expected that.  (Ray Corkran)

            The dust from Spanish olive wood is highly carcinogenic!  (Paul Blakley)

    I've used URAC on about 100 rod sections, (35 or so rods), and have not had any reaction although I do wear a mask and nitrile gloves as a precaution.  I skip the walnut shell mix and add ammonium chloride directly to the resin.

    So far so good and it remains my glue of choice.   (Doug Alexander)

      I have had no problems with URAC or Perkins L-100 using the ammonia chloride powder rather than supplied stuff.

      That having been said, it is probably the bamboo causing this, and as a service you may send the nasty stuff to me for disposal.  (Brian Creek)

        I have had problems with the bamboo itself but found out it was a little mold in the pith that caused my problems. A good dust mask and planing wet these day and I have nothing now.  (Ron Rees)

          Now that would make sense! Did you try killing the mold with anything?  (Ray Wallace)

    The rod builder at the now defunct Partridges of Redditch (Colin Young) was allergic to Aerolite 308 adhesive and used to employ a youth to bind the cane for him. I don't think any of us should be too surprised by this as allergies are a relatively common thing.

    Just another thing in life to live with and work around.  (Paul Blakley)

Rule

I have just been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and are asking if other members on the list have had this problem and what have they done to correct the problem.

The cause of my problem could come from fly fishing, making bamboo fly rods, Tennis, Golf or something else.

Let me know what your experience has been.  (Tom Key)

    My wife had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for several years. This summer she had the surgery for it. Left Hand first then the Right Hand. The Left Hand went so well that she rushed the recovery for the Right Hand (She's Right Handed) and now needs to go back to the surgeon because there is a knot in there and it hurts and cramps sometimes if she uses it too much. So don't rush the recovery if your have the surgery done.  (Dick Fuhrman)

    Dick gives words of wisdom.

    I too had the Carpal Tunnel surgery in 03 and it is now recurring because I also rushed the recovery and because I proceeded to continue to plane rods among other dubious activities. I'm slowing down now but it may be too late. Carpal problems are definitely something to be considered in our craft/art. Which is it?  (Bill Fink)

    I have been an auto mechanic for 46 years, along with being a gunsmith and rod maker for 30 years. I had carpal tunnel in both hands. I had the surgery on both hands done, one at a time.  I had them done probably 15 to 20 years ago and I have never had any problem since. It does take a LONG time for recovery. About a year to be totally healed. Don't plan on doing much with your hands for quite a few months after the surgery. But, once they are healed, your good to go.

    That's the only cure. Wearing the wrist straps and such that they have out there, doesn't work.  Surgery is the only answer.  (Dave LeClair)

    Not Carpal tunnel but I've had severe elbow tendonitis. Bad enough to have required. 8 ..yes EIGHT... operations since '95. I did a lot of heavy lifting at arms length and eventually the connections go! The last few surgeries were done at the Mayo Clinic and they're the experts.

    Ditto that taking it extremely slow getting   back   to   your duties...even slower!

    For your situation (and it's quite different from what I had, of course) please seek a few competent opinions before surgery but you just may have to go that route too.

    I wish you well and don't take this stuff lightly. It's a minor problem as far as a surgical correction but the results might impact your quality of life in a HUGE manor. Get some good advice! It's nothing to sniff at.

    Whether or not I'll be able to plane again remains to be seen. I'm a prior furniture maker by avocation with hopes some rodmaking. I'll see.

    This stuff is damn serious.  (Jeremy Gubbins)

    I developed it in both wrists when I was working for a team of hand surgeons, assisting in surgery to repair, among other things, carpal tunnel problems. It can be triggered by repetitive motion or keeping the wrists flexed for prolonged periods. In my case wrists flexed at almost 90 degree holding retractors so they could do the surgery. Wrist splints helped immensely just by wearing them at night, but when I took their job and shoved it it never came back. What causes the problem is that when the tendons that flex the fingers pass through the carpal tunnel are inflamed and swollen they compress the median nerve and that hurts, but can also damage the nerve. I've seen some nerves that had a coke-bottle shape from being compressed by the swollen tendons. The fibrous band that creates the carpal tunnel is inelastic. This is cut at the time of surgery and gives more room to the nerve and tendons, reducing the pressure on the nerve.

    If I needed it, I'd have the surgery and be real careful during the recovery period.  (Henry Mitchell)

Rule

I am quitting the rod making business primarily for a medical reason which might be a caution for others.  Shortly after starting in 2000 I developed an severe allergic reaction to common yellow mustard.  Over the past 9 years it has spread to all mustards, mustard seeds and mustard flours ( chili, some pizzas, certain soups, salad dressings, bare hot dogs, anything with "spices").   Always an hour after lunch, not breakfast or dinner.   What do I do after lunch?  I go to my shop and make bamboo rods.  I finally found a doctor this summer who identified my allergy to probably have originated with insecticide.  I do not use insecticide around my house or the shop, never on my grass.  I am very suspicious that our bamboo comes laced with residues of insecticide, from China it could be very toxic.  If I was to start over again I would split the culm in half and wash the bamboo with soap and water as I took it off the delivery truck.

You may ask "how does insecticide cause mustard allergy"?   My doctor is holistic, so he says the link is relational.  I ate a sandwich with mustard almost every lunch, then I would work with raw bamboo, the body remembers that bad stuff follows mustard so lets get ahead of it.  I never believed in holistic medicine until I met this doctor.  (Bob McElvain)

    Sorry to hear you are not making rods anymore.  You made good ones and I am sure you will be missed.  I am kinda nearly out as well.  My lungs and legs and two bags almost keep me bed fast; but not quite.  It is just hard for me to go to the basement anymore, and I expect that I have made my last rod.

    However, My son-in-law has just finished redoing my front deck with a sturdy ramp so that I can ride my jazzy out side.  (Ralph Moon)

    After reading Bob's caution about his health problems possibly having their origins from pesticides sprayed on bamboo, I decided to forward Bob's email to Andy Royer (Bamboo Broker) to get his opinion.  Here is his response.  If you have further question for Andy please sent them directly to him.  (Tom Key)

    Tom,

    Thank you for bringing this question to my attention.  I appreciate being made aware of this concern.

    All containers of bamboo poles are fumigated before they leave China (and sometimes again when the enter the US).  The fumigation process entails the insertion of a hose into the container at the port of discharge or entry.  Then, methyl bromide is injected into the container at varying rates over a 12-24-hour period.  This process is mandatory and is supposedly an essential and effective method to kill any potential pests (primarily the Asian Longhorn beetle).  As it stands, it is completely impossible to import bamboo (or a dizzying array of other wood/plant based products) into the US without this very fumigation.

    Methyl bromide is by no means a benign chemical as it has been banned in most applications since it has been proven to be an ozone depleting chemical.  It is not healthy for humans in large doses or direct contact.

    However, as a gas, the measure of detectable chemical begins to decrease rapidly after initial fumigation.  The gas is meant to kill bugs or larva on contact and (to my understanding) the effect of the residual gas is negligible.  Note that the bamboo poles that we work with for rod making is NOT re-fumigated upon entry into the US.  The USDA regulations state that bamboo poles destined for nurseries and/or "in-ground" use must be fumigated in the US.  These mandatory fumigations are very expensive and therefore avoided whenever possible.  I try to separate our shipments of "nursery" and "rod making" poles as well as fight tooth and nail to ensure that the bamboo destined for rod making is not fumigated a second time.  My point here is the bamboo received by any rod maker is a MINIMUM of four weeks removed from the fumigation process and usually much longer.

    The initial (meaning, from the port of destination, not entry) fumigation process has been in place ever since I've imported bamboo poles in 1993.  The USDA "mandatory fumigation for nursery-bound bamboo" policy has been enforced for about five years now.  I have never heard of a single incident regarding a human reaction to methyl bromide.  I have imported dozens of containers holding several million bamboo poles over the years (mostly for nursery use) and every single piece of bamboo is handled by hand at some point.  We are talking about thousands of individuals who have carried, unwrapped, sorted, handled, fondled, sniffed, cut, planed, crafted, contorted and manipulated this one material (all of which has gone through the same controlled fumigation) and I've never heard a whisper of any chemical-related health issue regarding residual fumigation chemical.  I personally unload our bundles of rod-making cane in Seattle by hand.  I am standing there as the containers are first opened and start handling the wrapped bundles of cane immediately.  I get as high a dose as possible of any residual pesticide and have never noted an external or internal reaction in my own body.  These bundles often sit for months in a airy warehouse before shipping to rod makers.

    In short, I cannot imagine that there is a connection between any residual pesticide and Mr. McElvain's health issues.  At the same time, I don't claim to know enough to state that this is not a possibility (just that the preponderance of evidence does not support the claim).  I would most certainly want to know if there are health concerns regarding the chemical used on the bamboo that I help bring into the country.  If there are any other reactions regarding the bamboo we work with I definitely would like to be made aware of it as it would constitute a huge concern.

    Please either pass this email on or make a note that anyone who has concerns over the safety of this raw material should contact me directly.

    Thank you again.

    Best,

    -Andy

      Thank you for relaying Andy's very thoughtful answer.

      I would like to mention that the association of mustard, bamboo, and allergic response need not be causal as Bob's physician has postulated.  There are so many other potential factors (for example, fungal spores come to mind) that it will be interesting to see if anyone else on the list has noticed a reaction to bamboo.  Well, a reaction other than working with it is addictive for many of us.  (Tim Anderson)

        I had some kind of a mild reaction from one culm that I split. It seemed to have a lot of "dust" come from it when splitting, it may of been mold. I started using a dust mask since then and have had no problems.  (Tony Spezio)

          I don't know much about it but woodworkers often talk of sensitizers, that after continual exposure to certain types of wood dust can have debilitating effects. You go for years without any reaction and then one day- boom, you're in the hospital.   (Jim Lowe)

            You are absolutely right

            I have seen this happen several times to wood worker friends. I think it was a fine mold in that culm that bothered be but I still wear a dust mask when splitting out a culm.  (Tony Spezio)

      I offered to test a sample of Bob's bamboo for pesticide residue. At the time I was not thinking aboout ethyl bromide, as volatile as it is, I cannot imagine any detectable amount left after 4 weeks. On the other hand, being declared an ozone depletor in 2000, they are probably using something else.

      If anyone wants to try it, send me a small piece, a couple of inches will do, and we'll give it a shot. We would run it against the standard database since we could be looking for anything.   (Carey Mitchell)

    Here is what I could find on the "Immunocap" online food allergen database concerning bamboo.  (Doug Easton)

    Allergens

    No allergens from this plant have yet been characterized.

    Potential Cross-Reactivity

    An extensive cross-reactivity among the different individual species of the genus could be expected, as well as to a certain degree among members of the family Poaceae (1).

    Clinical Experience

    IgE mediated reactions

    Bamboo can induce symptoms of food allergy in sensitized individuals.

    IgE antibodies to Bamboo have been reported in patients with atopic dermatitis, rhinitis and asthma (2). The efficacy of Pharmacia CAP System ImmunoCAP for Bamboo compared to skin specific IgE was reported to be high (3).

    Bamboo shoots were suspected of contributing to allergic symptoms in agricultural workers in Japan (4).

    Other reactions

    Contact allergy and delayed hypersensitivity has also been reported (5).

    Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman, harris@zingsolutions.com

    References:

    1. Yman L. Botanical relations and immunological cross-reactions in pollen allergy. 2nd ed. Pharmacia Diagnostics AB. Uppsala. Sweden. 1982: ISBN 91-970475-09

    2. Chiba T et al. Clinical evaluation of Pharmacia CAP System new food allergens.  Paper presented at Jap Soc Pediatric Allergol 1992.

    3. Matsumaru S, Artia M et al. Clinical evaluation of Pharmacia CAP System new allergens for fish, vegetables, fruits and grains. Paper presented at Jap Soc Ped Allergol 1992.

    4. Ueda A, Ueda T, Matsushita T, Ueno T, Nomura S. Prevalence rates and risk factors for allergic symptoms among inhabitants in rural districts. Sangyo Igaku 1987;29(1):3-16

    5. Kitajima T. Contact allergy caused by bamboo shoots. Contact Dermatitis 1986;15(2):100-2

      Bamboo allergy? Well, I had some serious problems, life threatening. My understanding at this point is that i probably had a propensity for the problem all my life. I recall some incidents but they were contributed to other things at the time. On my feet mostly. Thick welt on the soles of my feet if I had the arch of a shoe hit me just right. I figured those hip boots caused a bruising of some sort in my arches but after a couple of days it would go away. i was probably sensitized from an exposure to formaldehyde while working on water treatment system for kidney dialysis unit.  I had been on Accupril for a while for hypertension. It was a side effect of the drug. I had horrible welts the size of plates on my back and deep in the muscles of my arms till it would distort my hands and they would be useless. My normal hay fever symptoms went away and I began to have hives covering my body. Tongue and mouth would swell making it difficult to breath and someone would occasionally sit up and watch me sleep. I seemed to be sensitive to everything and I had to be careful. Experienced herticaria from vibration and pressure even had my joints swell when I would use a hammer or a saw. When I pushed the lawn mower I wore padded gloves. A lot of abdominal pressure. I went to doctors one thought I had a condition called mastocytosis. That is serious. One doctor, God bless him, told me what I was telling him was impossible and referred me to a psychiatrist. Finally found someone who had seen this before and begin to prescribe a medication regiment and found something for hypertension other than an ace inhibitor. I still take meds and might yet begin a downhill slide if I stopped taking them. What caused it? I do not know. Bamboo? Some foreign oriental fungus on the bamboo? Resorcinol? I suspect that something in the making of the rods tripped a trigger, so to speak. It went into overdrive about 3 weeks after i received my first large order of bamboo. I now wash the bamboo and let it dry before I start any sawing, sanding, filing and flaming. A person can be allergic to anything I suppose. This went on for years.  (Timothy Troester)

    When I first started messing with bamboo, I noticed a reaction that I had- headaches. In fact I read in a number of beginner books that one may have a reaction but I believe that it was mostly due to the particle size that was in turned enhaled. So I bought expensive face masks and that resolved the problem.

    But I did not like wearing a face mask, so I arranged for better airflow in my shop (which is easy on the Outer Banks- I just opened the door and the wind brought fresh air into the shop). I have not noticed a problem since. My fresh air source is a little rough during the winter but it is better than having headaches.  (George Wood)

Rule

Well, we occasionally share unfortunate shop events and here is another. I was using hot melt glue to put a tiptop on a rod tip section.  I could not find my gloves so I wrapped a couple of pieces of masking tape around my thumb and forefinger to hold the tip top while I heated it up to slide it over the tip with the hot melt glue already on it. While I heated up the little metal tiptop, I began to feel the heat and it hurt. I looked closer at what I was doing and the masking tape around my fingers was burning. I had flames burning the tape off my fingers. I would have said "damn!" but there was no one else present to hear. Now that I reflect, I suppose, the fault was not in the masking tape itself.  (Timothy Troester)

    Don't feel too bad Timothy.  Today I put together my second oven in two days and my hands and arms look like I've been fighting a bobcat!

    Good news is that the ovens work perfectly holding constant temp's from one end to the other.  (Harry Boyd)

    Are you trying out for the Darwin prize?  (Larry Puckett)

    That’s what you get for  not using Duct tape!!!!!!! "G"  (Jon Holland)

      I had duct tape on the bench as well as the masking tape. I did a quick mental calculation and decided that the 6" of masking tape would be less expensive than the 6" of duct tape.  (Timothy Troester)

      Sorry, but I'm sitting here laughing about you setting your fingers on fire.  I had this vision of you running around the room like Larry Fine (one of the Three Stooges), going "Whoop, Whoop, Whoop" shaking your flaming fingers in the air, looking for someplace to dunk them in water to extinguish!

      TJ.... Welcome to my world!  (Bob Nunley)

        Now yer supposed to say "I resemble that remark !". 

        Nyuk,Nyuk,Nyuk.  (Larry Swearingen)

        I use a small pair of needle nose pliers through the tip top loop to hold the tip top for heating and slipping it on the rod tip. Just thought I would pass this on.

        It might save some duct tape.   (Tony Spezio)

        Thank you for the 3 stooges image.  That made a great guffaw with which to close the work week.  Now I can retreat from work with a smile on my face!  (Greg Dawson)

        And of course Larry would have dunked his fingers into a bucket of gasoline or some other flammable liquid thinking it was water and set the whole place alight — wonderful image!  (Larry Puckett)

Rule

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