Vermin articles continued to draw attention, as we received a couple of comments in response to the advice given the woodworker with Mouse Stained Wood.
Both John Cusimano and Paul Franklin brought up the concern of hanta virus. “I would avoid sanding the urine-stained wood and thereby creating a lot of dust containing mouse urine that could be inhaled,” John said, while Paul added, “My comment on the mouse-stained wood is to burn it.” You can find out more about hantavirus health concerns here:
In last issue’s Reader’s Response, Matt Iunghuhn of Brookston, Indiana, wrote that spiders were pestering him in his shop which was in response to Rob’s article Buzz Off”: New Hope for Outdoor Woodworkers in the previous eZine, in which he talked about the Minnesota, ahem, “state bird”: the mosquito.
Steve Melanovich thought that Matt’s spiders might be attracted to his shop if there’s excess moisture nearby. His suggestion for getting rid of them was to use a bit of soapy water in a spray bottle. “The soap residue left behind is a strong deterrent to keep them away,” he said. Dan R. of Kansas City, Missouri, on the other hand, recommended room foggers, “the kind in a spray can that put out a fine mist that permeates the whole room.” NOT, Dan noted for a workshop setting, the kind that get hot or burn.
“You need to open cabinets, drawers, tool stands, etc., in the areas you see the webs. Of course this means moving anything you don’t want sprayed. When you move it back, watch for ‘fuzzy’ spots since these are egg sacks and the biggest reason you can’t get rid of spiders for long is they keep hatching out. It will also help to vacuum under everything you can including the bottom of tables, benches and equipment. Get all the egg sacks you can find.”
Dan said that once a month fogging might be needed at first, with a move then to twice a year (usually spring and fall), with a possible mid-summer spray for when outside spiders hatch and decide to move in. “Keep in mind the spiders would starve or move unless there is some other insects for them to feed on so a general use fogger can be just as effective as one that specifies spiders,” he added.
Gary Helgerson works in a California shop that’s an old barn built from cedar planks with lots of knot holes and gaps “for those eight-legged monsters to get into.” He’s found, though, that pesticides “don’t keep them from coming back any longer than using my shop vac.” Vacuuming sucks up not only the spiders, but also the webs; lets him avoid touching anything chemical; and allows him to know when the spiders are moving back in from the reemergence of the webbing.
Despite all the spider advice, readers just couldn’t help themselves from chipping in to what seems to have become a bragging rights competition for the biggest mosquitoes: Daniel Briedenbach of southern Indiana says the mosquitoes there are “the size of young robins. Everybody carries a camp axe to chop their stingers off”, while Frank Prescott of Newman, Georgia, says, “down here if you look at the mosquitoes under a magnifying glass, all you will see are a great big set of teeth and wings.”
Finally, Steve Melanovich (he of the spider ridding advice), notes that if ants are a problem for anyone, the usual traps will work to an extent, “but I have found cinnamon to work the best, to rid them completely.”
MOVING ON (and no, it’s not an accident that those words are in all caps) to other woodworking concerns, we also heard from some woodworkers who had further input on Sanding Red Oak. One reader felt that the poster having problems evening out the grain in his wood was probably working with red oak that was still wet. He called this a common problem with this wood, and said a very warm heat gun can be used to test this theory. “Get it good and warm, and one can feel the moisture with the back of your hands.” Another good test for wet wood, he said, “is to cut a piece about a foot long x 1/8″ thick. Then, manually try to bend it and make both ends touch. If they do without breaking, the wood is WAY too wet.”
John Perott said he has worked extensively with red oak. He buys it planed on one side as a cost issue, then runs it through his thickness planer to smooth the surface, sands with 80 grit on his palm sander and then switches to 220. “The first step is staining, and then a sanding sealer. Sand lightly with a 220 grit. Wipe with a tack cloth and give it two coats of polyurethane varnish.” This produces what he calls an acceptable finish.
Bruce D. Woods says he doesn’t sand red or white oak finer than 120-150 grit, because he thinks too fine a grit will seemingly “cauterize” pores and cause stains or color applied to the wood to come out blotchy. For the final coat, he will go to about 220. “In my limited experience with various types of woods, only the closed pore woods should get very fine sanding — unless you are going for a special effect,” Bruce said. He did not that his comments reflect his personal taste in finishes: those that leave some tactile feedback, and not the “glossy bar top, veneered, poly’d to death” ones.
Readers also had a few things to say on setting up a Basement Woodworking Shop.
Kevin recommended that the woodworker asking the question not place his machines on the floor, but putting them on top of something like pressure-treated blocks or rot-resistant hardwood. “No matter how dry a basement feels, it is very likely that water is transmitting through the floor as vapor,” he said.
Salvatore Pontecorvo added that he believes his solution to basement shop humidity — use a dehumidifier — is the only one. “I operate my dehumidifier every day of the year. In 17 years of basement workshop enjoyment, I have yet to see any equipment rust without adding any protective coating to equipment,” he writes. If the basement is unfinished, Salvatore also recommends insulating the outside walls, then adding plastic covering as a moisture barrier. “I used 2×4’s with insulation in between, then plastic and finally drywall. Sealing the basement floor with a moisture-proof paint will also help. Sounds like a lot of work, but it has huge benefits over the years.”