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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Age
    35
    Posts
    1

    Default Newbie Question-Wood Workbench

    Hi all,

    I am a longtime woodworker who is starting to try his hand at metalworking. While I have a small metal welding table that I use when brazing/soldering (and MIG/TIG once I learn those processes and get a rig), almost all of the workspace in my shop is made of wood butcher block given my background. Assuming I vigorously cleaned the area to remove all sawdust/wood shavings, could I use those wooden tables to mount an abrasive chop saw and a metal bench vise to use with an angle grinder or would the sparks created by cutting/shaping metal stock on top of those surfaces pose a safety hazard/be otherwise problematic? Thanks so much for the help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Norwood-ish, Adelaide
    Age
    56
    Posts
    5,821

    Default

    The problem is more likely that those surfaces will get showered with metal filings that may imbed in the surfaces and mar any future woodwork that you do. Personally I would be looking for a way to get a different bench or perhaps covers made up to avoid that.

    Michael

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Tasmania
    Posts
    5

    Default

    I'll second Michael's comment. As a frequent woodworker and an occasional metalworker, cleaning up metal swarf and filings is far harder that it may seem. I try to confine metalworking activities to one part of the shed, with the only crossover really being the drill press and belt sander. Even so, days after drilling metal and several cleanings later, I continue to get tiny shavings embedded in timer. Gah!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Mackay North Qld
    Posts
    5,667

    Default

    Norman54 ,
    Hi and Welcome to the MetalWork Forums.

    You joined an excellent forum with members who are skilled ,experienced and like to help.


    We have a large range of subforums related to metalworking which can be perused by going to the rectangular FORUM box in the top left hand corner of the page. To learn more of the breadth and scope of the forum do the following:

    Click on the tiny arrow within that box and a scroll down menu will appear.

    Select Forum Home on the top of the scroll down menu and a page will appear which you can scroll down to see the sub forums .

    While there I recommend you read the TOUs, the Terms Of Use which are the rules we operate under.

    We look forward to seeing more of your posts.

    In addition to what Micheal said. I would strongly suggest a dedicated bench well away from the workshop. The sparks and dust from the grinding find their way everywhere and i mean everywhere. Red hot sparks melt into glass windows,car windows and paintwork ,anodised door frames and just about every other precious/valuable item that you thought " the sparks won't reach that far"

    If you value your wood workshop area don't do angle grinding in it. If you intend to instal metalwork machine tools, the sparks and the dust are not real good for them either.

    A mobile bench that you can roll outside away from the "goodies" will help solve that. A metal workshop bench seems to be one of the first items made these days -there are plenty of examples out there.

    I hope this might save you some problems later.


    Welcome again.

    Grahame

    Moderator

  5. #5
    BobL is offline Member: Blue and white apron brigade
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Perth
    Posts
    6,222

    Default

    For 25+ years I did some metal work in a small 5.3 x 3.8m mainly woodwork oriented shed with wooden benches and these days I do about 50% of each but I have a bigger shed and use more tech to keep them separate.

    When I just had the (mainly WW) small shed I bought a sheet of 900x900x3mm steel plate and used that to cover one of my wooden benches when metal working. This reduces (NB, not eliminated) the sort of thing that MG describes, of metal bits ending up all over the shed and embedded in wood. BTW its not just metal - the grit from abrasive and cutting wheels is just as bad or worse. The other thing with welding is fumes settle everywhere and absorb water and turn into an abrasive grey goo. I did use old sheets as covers with limited success - one has to remember to use then and then carefully remove them and take them outside to shake them down.

    Chops saws, metal sanding, and bench and angle grinders are notorious for spraying stuff metal and sparks well beyond the confines of a 900 x 900 mm sheet of metal so I tended to use the chopsaw and angle grinders outside but as I hate the noise these things make (especially teh chop saw) I got rid of it in favour of a dedicated MW bandsaw - much better. Still have angle grinders but constrict these to one end of my new shed.

    Welding is similar - slag and spatter goes everywhere - I had to make sure I cleaned up before welding to prevent fires - I had several fires including one where, despite wearing a leather apron, I managed to set fire to an armpit of a flannel shirt I was wearing - have lots of holes in shirts, wind cheaters, shorts etc tom MW. Another where I set fire to a small pile of saw dust on the other side of the shed with the chop saw . This is not happen immediately but about 15 minutes later when I had left the shed, and luckily I was home and SWMBO was in the back yard and smelled smoke - she has a very keen sense of smell - and called me. Sure enough there was a pile of saw dust smouldering in the corner on some wood that was just starting to catch fire. After that I never left the place for at least 30 minutes after completing hot works.

    To further reduce the scatter of metal dust and chip I added 3 sheet metal sides to the steel plate and while it helped, invariably one is in a hurry so the 900 x 900 metal sheet was not always employed so one of my wooden benches ended up pock marked with burn holes from spatter and lots of embedded metal and grit - eventually I gave up trying too hard to protect it and called it my metal work bench. That bench had a frame welded up from angle iron from a bed frame I found by the side of the road and 50 x 150mm Jarrah beams from a pergola. When first made it look very nice but 20 odd years later it was quite battle scarred. I was going to put it on the verge but I decided to run the belt sander over the top and gave it a lick of silver paint and it came up a treat. oldie for $50.

    Before I retired I tripled the size of my shed into a sort of a long "L" shaped with the end of the long section "L" becoming the MW section with sheet metal clad walls (Miniorb). The drill press is in that area and is the main contributor for sawdust at that end and while it has dust extraction, one of course has to remember to turn it on.

    My Metal work end also has a 3 sided welding bay/fume hood with gutsy fume extractor above. Again one has to remember to turn it on

    The metal work bandsaw with lube/coolant is a grotty thing but at least it does not spray any dust/grit, and is much quieter than a chop saw. It's slow but it's a set and forget operation - start cutting and go do something else and when its finished it turns itself off.

    I have a home made mini metal cutting table saw that uses a 125mm thin kerf abrasive cutting wheel to cut things that are too hard or awkward for the MWBS. Most of the swarf from this is captured by a baked bean can under the table. I also used dust extraction with this saw, this is not easy with the same wheel in and angle grinder. See pic below.

    I also use a 20L metal spark catcher can connected to my WW DC when using belt sanders etc. The can catches escaping hot bits of metal and sparks before they can enter the WWDC ducting.
    Again one has to remember to turn it on.
    In this photo the fume hood is just visible on the LHD
    IMG_1615.jpg
    bestofthebest.jpg

    So, in summary - it is possible to minimise the spread of metal/grit/fumes but it takes a bit of effort and organization, and remembering to switch various extractors etc on at all times.

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