Toxic Woods List
Exotic woods are some of the most beautiful timbers in the world. There presence in a woodworking project can take the most ordinary piece and turn it into a work of art.
While they are beautiful, these woods can cause some woodworkers develop lung, skin or eye irritations. The oils, resins and other chemicals that give these woods their beautiful colors and working properties can be pretty potent, leading to allergic reactions and other health concerns.
Which woods are most likely to cause these kinds of reactions? This list from the musical instrument makers forum lists dozens of wood species, and the likelihood they will cause eye and skin irritation, respiratory problems, nausea and cancer.
While there is a potential for these kinds of reactions, proactive dust control and personal safety precautions can help to significantly reduce the risk of a reaction.
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About 20 years ago, I worked for a company that makes fiber-optic cables. We imported manufacturing machinery from South America, which came packaged in crates of some kind of beautiful hardwood. (This was well before I got into woodworking, so to this day I have no idea what it was.) One of the other engineers was an avid woodworker, and he carefully disassembled the crates and took the planks home. He came in after a long weekend looking like he had bathed in poison ivy juice; he was covered with blisters head-to-toe. He explained that he had put several of the boards through his planer and jointer in preparation for building some furniture, but he stopped very quickly because his arms started to itch. Luckily for him, he routinely wore goggles and a respirator during planing operations, so nothing got into his eyes or lungs. Had he inhaled the dust, it might very well have been fatal.
WOW! That’s a heck of a story, Robert. Needless to say, it pays to be careful when working with exotic woods…
Useful list there Tom.. many thanks