Dusting out dad's workshop

With declining health, my dad no longer had energy to clean up and gradually let his workshop get into disorder. It always bothered me to see the workshop like that, but it's not right to be moving stuff around in somebody else's workspace.

My dad passed away in October 2012, and on a visit over the 2012 Christmas holidays, I tackled the mess.


My dad didn't believe in dust extraction systems, so the dust just settled everywhere. In many corners, where things had not been moved for many years, everything was coated with a 3 mm thick layer of very fine dust.

My mom spent a few days sweeping the dust off the floors and such, but there was still lots of dust in all the corners.


There was also plenty of dust that settled on the walls and ceilings!

The ceiling was covered with a mixture of fine dust and soot from the wood stove. For a while, my dad soaked planer shavings with waste oil and shovel those into the wood stove. Free fuel, but it made for a lot of smoke.

I swept the ceiling. In some places, far from the stove, just sweeping considerably lightened the colour!


Blowing the dust out of corners with an air compressor. This made for a LOT of dust in the air! So much so that dusting one part out would just cause other parts to get dusty again.


I used a fan to circulate outside air through the shop, so that less of the dust would settle back in the shop. At left, you can barely see the fan. Some dust is blown off some dusty wood scraps just behind the fan to see how the fan moves the dust. The fan is just a wooden blade mounted on a small induction motor.


The area around the stroke sander was the worst. It's that stroke sander that produced most of the dust that had settled everywhere!


But even on the far side of the shop, everything was dust covered.

Here I'm dusting out a shelf full of offcuts. I just took everything and threw it down on the floor. After doing some of that, I set up some fans to blow air out an open door near that shelf.

Most of the offcuts were too small to make anything and with so many offcuts, I kept only the largest of them, the rest I deemed to be firewood.


I swept the floor time and time again, with all the dust that settled. Here I'm blowing dust out from under the shelf with an air compressor. On the bottom left of the picture, you can see two homemade fans set up. More about building these fans here.


But eventually, I realized, it's best to start by sweeping up the dust as much as possible. Any dust I that could get into a dust pan without getting it airborne was dust that I didn't have to blow out of the shop before it settled again. Even with two powerful fans blowing air out the door, I'd still get a lot of the dust resettling in the shop.

I took some samples of that dust home with me and examined it under a microscope. My microscope can barely resolve dust particles of about 5 micron in size, and these were definitely much bigger than that. So most of this dust, though fine, was still coarse enough not to get deep into the lungs. The sort of dust that gets deep in the lung looks more like smoke hanging in the air.


I spent a few days dusting out that shop. I don't think my dad ever dusted it out.

I didn't have a really good reason to do all that cleanup. This shop won't get used much for the foreseeable future. But the idea of a shop in such a messy state bothered me. I wanted to do a video / photo tour of this shop for the website, which gave me a good reason for cleaning it up. But perhaps the rationale for the shop tour article was to have a good justification for the cleanup effort!

See the shop tour


See also:


To my Woodworking website.