got to thinking about some of the chemicals we may use when doing  luthier work.  For now, I've only been using stew mac's polishes but as I start learning more I know I'll start experimenting with other possibly dangerous products. 

I am working in a small DIY room, the size of a large closet.  I haven't been using a mask, but maybe I should?  What solvents/chemicals are considered dangerous or at least need some kind of ventilation equipment?

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so is it possible this Potassium Dichromate is already in the wood we are dealing with? or is it something that has to be purchased and applied to the wood?

It's a chemical you buy. Makes spruce instant orange speed oxidating it, looking like aged spruce. The same thing can be done with Potassium Permanganate.

Just an inexpensive, small box fan with a good furnace filter duct taped to the suction side works quite well for dust generating projects like sanding old finger boards. Set it on the bench next to you're project.  Anything that involves solvents or toxic chemicals you NEED TO WEAR a good spray mask with replaceable cartridges that are rated for whatever it is you are protecting you're self from. For Luthiery work, cartridges rated for organic solvents should cover about everything. Not sure about Potassium Dichromate, I never use it. Paper masks are NOT intended for this and even the better ones will let some dust get by them. The generic nature of their shape does not fit everyone's face the same.

You should also wear protective gloves, you're skin is absorptive. Chemical gloves that do everything are bulky and expensive. Gloves that don't fit well or loose excessive finger dexterity won't get used.  I keep a box of disposable Nitrile gloves around which are OK for a lot of things but won't last long with exposure to Acetone or Lacquer (hotter solvents). I did find some dish washing gloves that work better with Acetone or Lacquer but can't tell you which brand. I'll try to remember to look at them for a brand name.

No Jim. It's a Luthiers repair tool .

I mainly use it to artificially "age" repairs to old furniture and instruments. Mamie Minch did an excellent YouTube on using it for darkening and Oxyalic acid for brightening Spruce.

so here's basically the conclusions I've come to from the sage wisdom found in this thread:

-I'm going to get 3M N100 filters for the mask I have (vapor filter cartridges)

-going to get hot hide glue to replace super glue (does this still do a good enough job of holding though?)
-this fan as well or something equivalent

one more question: in the meantime, when I use for example, super glue or stew mac polishes. How long do the vapors exist in the air until it dissipates? Is it possible that it travels up through the ceiling into the first floor (my luthier room is in the basement)?

Hot hide glue is the best wood glue you can find, but not so good for gluing plastic or small details like perl inlays. I use superglue for many small and quick jobs, but I try to get away from the fumes as much as I can. You need both I'd say, but be careful when using superglue.

Yes the vapors will find their way into the living space. Dissipation depends on how ventilated (leaky) your house is. While that fan may work with solder and small amounts of CA and plastic cement used for bindings it may be inadequate to handle noxious fumes from organic solvents in finishes and thinners.  At the very least a standard 20" X 20" box fan  placed in an open window/door blowing towards the outside and another opening in the opposite end of the shop or from your living space when applying and curing solvent based finishes.This will provide fresh replacement air when you are creating fumes. Water based finishes are an option but come with limitations and also have a small amount of volatiles in them. If you don't have good outside air access or want to build a curing closet and need to recirculate the air, a high flow inline fan and charcoal scrubber like is used by indoor Cannabis growers might be an option for solvent bases finishes

Wood dust is in the air after you hand sand or use a machine to cut wood and the kind of dust (irregardless of species) which is most dangerous is microscopic. Rather than go into a lot of detail click here: and plan to spend a few days reading. Then make up your mind how you want to proceed. I have a 2 car attached garage as my shop and do more woodworking than most here so my needs are much different than yours. In addition to wearing a P100 mask when making dust I also use HEPA filter cartridges on my cyclone dust collector for my stationary machinesnand and also on my shopvac for hand held equipment. I do some work in the house at my dining room table doing repairs when it is intolerable temp/humidity-wise. If I need to hand sand something I set up a box fan like Paul Breen described above, directly in front of the workpiece, drawing air across the workpiece into a HEPA level HVAC filter taped to the back of the fan. This works for me. Might help you to get started.

A mask will be less functional if you do not have a way of exhausting fumes. You can, as Paul said, use a 20x20 box fan, tape a HVAC filter over the front, and use it in the doorway to exhaust fumes. You could put another box fan at an outside door. I myself wouldn't use any solvents or VOC emitting liquids or sprays in a room without ventilation, regardless of the quality of the mask or respirator. You can always work outside if weather permits.

HVAC and HEPA filters are not the same thing. HEPA filter is the one that filters out really small dust particles.


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