Extra dusty

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No matter how efficient your dust collection is, it can’t get everything.

Nearly a decade ago, I talked about how MDF was the dustiest material to work with. I was wrong, and have found something even dustier. It’s cellulose-based fiberboard, sometimes called sound board due to its noise-dampening properties. The stuff has been around since the beginning of the last century, and has been used for lining train cars, automobile ceilings, even as a building material for walls for field housing during World War I. Today, it’s an insulation layer and, as noted, soundproofing.

But stained-glass artists use it for a worksurface and since Sally is getting back into her stained-glass hobby, she needed some. Glass supply places sell small 2' x 2' sheets for about $30, and I’m thinking that’s ridiculous when a 4' x 8' sheet of the stuff at the local Big Box store is only $29. I figure that not only can I make her a bunch of them, but I can also cut them to the exact size to fit her new built-in work center I made.

But holy-yikemoly, I had no idea how dusty the stuff is to cut. It’s not like cutting wood or even its dusty cousin MDF, it’s like cutting paper-mâché. Even with the dust collector running, I had a cloud of paper dust and filaments floating everywhere. And although it cuts to a nice edge, the corners of the cut tend to be flakey, requiring that you knock them down with some sandpaper – creating even more airborne chaff.

But I got the pieces cut to size and fitted perfectly to her work center, with several backup pieces ready to go when she wears out the first one. And, once I got the shop cleaned up – there was a blanket of paper dust and flakes everywhere – I finally had the chance to enjoy the cost effectiveness of the purchase.

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