Practical Solutions for Dust Control: Managed vs. Engineered Approach

27. July 2016 10:39

By W. Brad Carr, President: SonicAire 

Two strategies address how to control combustible dust:  a managed solution or an engineered solution.  Even though the goal is the same, the principles undergirding each approach are vastly different.  Let’s examine each approach, and determine its strengths and weaknesses.

Managed= Manual Housekeeping

A managed approach is essentially manual housekeeping.  In this scenario, third-party cleaning services or plant employees remove accumulated dust and fiber intermittently.  The interval of cleaning depends on the processing and the type of particles - the more dust generated, the more frequent the cleaning required. 

The approach looks like this:  A person gets up on a ladder (worst case scenario) or on a scissor lift and starts removing the dust from overhead structures and processing equipment.  Once the dust settles on the floor it is them removed from the building.

The cost of cleaning this way varies widely.  A range of prices has been reported to me, including:

•    Larry Baker, president of Fuzion Solution, noted that one company in the paper and pulp industry spends an average $2.40 per square foot on manual cleaning.

•    For one woodworking facility, the cost of cleaning was $0.40 per square foot.

•    One small mill reported spending $10,000 monthly on manual cleaning. 

The cost is there, at whatever level.  Now the question is - is that a good solution for the price?

Benefits of a Managed Approach

A managed approach is the status quo solution.  Before technological advances were made, manual housekeeping was, in fact, the only solution. 

Many people find that ongoing cleaning is an attractive option because there are low upfront costs.  You don’t have to invest a lot of money at one time to continue either using cleaning services or using your employees to manage combustible dust levels. 

What’s more, manual cleaning for combustible dust can even appear not to cost anything, as it is absorbed in operational budgets.  It costs, of course, but that cost is buried, which appeals to some companies’ budgeting process. Continuing in this way just seems like less of a hassle. 

Manual cleaning also does not need a strategic plan, which can be viewed as a benefit.  If companies do not have a capital investment plan, it can be extremely difficult to allocate the funds needed for an engineered approach.  Even if the engineered solutions can show ROI for the installation, some companies can’t secure the initial investment needed.  Within this framework, ongoing manual cleaning is appealing.

Weaknesses of a Managed Approach

A managed approach means that personnel or third party businesses clean the overhead structures on a continuing basis.   This means that these personnel are at risk when cleaning overhead areas, which is considered a mandatory activity.  If you have ever seen anyone on a ladder or scissor lift in those high-ceiling plants, you know exactly what I mean.  This seems to be a solution that uses dangerous practices to eliminate a dangerous situation.   That’s not a trade-off that makes sense to me.

The second weakness in a managed approach is equally problematic.  Given the fact that people are scheduled to clean at certain time intervals, it is axiomatic that there are times when the facility does not comply with safety standards.  As I said earlier, there is basically a zero-tolerance approach to fugitive dust buildup.     The cyclical nature of manual cleaning allows for too much accumulated dust, preventing the plant from being in compliance with OSHA.  

The third weakness is a monetary one.  A managed approach requires never-ending costs.  You have to keep the cleaning services forever because you are always cleaning up after the fact. 

Not only are there ongoing costs that continue for the duration of the life of the plant, but there is also lost production time when the cleaning takes place.  You can’t clean safely when the machines are operating.  Lost production means lost profits. 

Engineered = Automated Housekeeping

The assumption of an engineered approach is that technology can be leveraged to automate cleaning processes and continuously protect against the risks of combustible dust accumulation. 

Two types of engineering solutions exist.  The first is localized filtration.  With this the equipment captures the combustible dust by either vacuuming or suctioning.  This approach is often needed, but the reality is that it can’t be used alone.  Localized filtrations simply can’t capture every particle of fugitive dust.

The second technology is barrier technology, which prevents fugitive dust from accumulating on overhead structures.  With barrier technology, a robotic clean fan automatically establishes and maintains OSHA compliance throughout the plant.  With this approach, there is a one-time deep clean of fugitive dust, and once that dust is removed, the barrier technology prevents new dust from ever accumulating again.

Often there is a synergy between the filtration and the barrier technologies for enterprise-wide compliance, since they can be effectively used together in one facility. 

Strengths of an Engineered Approach

The value of using technology stems from its operating principle.  It’s a simple principle, actually:  It’s better to prevent dust from accumulating than clean it up after the fact.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Only engineered solutions have a proactive approach to prevent dust from accumulating.

The first is that employees are not put at risk to clean.  No longer do people have to climb ladders, mount scaffolds or scissor lifts to reach the fugitive dust in overhead areas.  Often in these cases, personnel have to extend their bodies beyond the confines of the scissor lift to make sure all the dust is removed.  With an engineered approach, these safety hazards are eliminated. 

The second benefit is that a one-time investment means a permanent clean.  Professionals can show the ROI of their expenditures, amortizing the costs against the ongoing costs of manual cleaning.  The duration of the payoff will depend on the technology chosen. An engineered approach allows for automated, controlled cleaning that doesn’t interfere with production. 

Most significant is the benefit that an engineered approach means that plants can now be in continuous compliance.   Depending on the sophistication of the specific technology, it also delivers consistently higher levels of clean to meet or exceed those standards.  Plants can avoid stiff fines and more importantly, keep their employees safe continually. 


Wood Composites Symposium: Focus on Bio-based adhesives for wood composites and Timber for Tall Buildings

25. July 2016 11:43


Washington State University's Composite Materials and Engineering Center Offers:

An all-day education symposium on advances in resins and coating technology for wood composites and utilization of wood composites for mass timber construction at the International Woodworking Fair, 8-4:30pm, Tuesday, August 23, 2016, Atlanta, Georgia

Register Now for early registration price


Session 1: Resins & Coatings 

Overview of Environmental Regulations Facing the Industry, Jackson Morrill, Composite Panel Association

Mycoboard - Wood Composite Panel with Novel No-Formaldehyde Binder, Jeff Betts, Ecovative

The Physicochemical Nature of Protein-Hybrid Adhesives, Joseph J. Marcinko, Evertree, SAS and Polymer Synergies, LLC

Advancements in Sustainable Binder Technology for Composite Wood Panel Applications, James Wright, EcoSynthetix

A Life in the Timber Industry, Stewardship is the Key, Scott McIntyre, Performance Adhesives, Hexion, Inc.

What Today's Outsourcing Shop Does Right, Mike Lee, Cabinotch Cabinet Box Systems

Lunch Provided

Session 2: Mass Timber Construction

What is CLT & Mass Timber Construction?, Vik Yadama, Washington State University

CLT vs. NLT in the first US Mass Timber Building, L. Leif Johnson, Magnusson Klemencic Associates & Amado Guevara III, DLR Group

Performance of SYP CLT, Henry Quesada, Virginia Tech

CLT Manufacturing in Oregon, John Redfield, D.R.Johnson Wood Innovations

Bringing CLT production to scale, Aaron Edewards, Evergreen Engineering


KICK ASS LEAN - the word is getting out, don't miss it.

6. July 2016 16:02

Are you still sitting on the fence about weather or not you should attend ?  I have a friend with something to say, you may have heard of him, this guy name PAUL AKERS !  check it out...


Wednesday the 24th at 3:00pm for the most transformative information I could pack into 2 hours.   Thank you all for signing up and allowing me to share what I have learned with you.  SEE YOU THERE !


Brad Cairns

Lean Maniac


Color Matching, - Color Blending

30. June 2016 11:40

By: Mitch Kohanek

Recently, I was in need of a color match on a 30 year old opaque exterior color.  It was for a few new pieces of Masonite siding I replaced on my house.  “Back in the day” that meant going to your local paint store in hopes of finding someone who had the knowledge and talent to mix colors by eye.

With today’s technology, a spectrophotometer made short work of matching an exact color for me. Gave the store a piece of the old siding, they made me a quart of paint that was a spot on color match of my old existing siding.

For transparent and translucent wood coloring using dyes, stains, micro pigments the meter comes close, but it can’t be relied on to be as accurate as it is with opaque colors. It can be a valuable tool, it has its benefits, but in many cases the color often needs to be adjusted “by eye”.

1.    The various natural shades of species of wood like white oak.
2.    The natural colors of cherry, walnut, and mahogany.
3.    Red oak and white oak in the same pile of oak that is to be used
4.    Blending Sapwood to Heartwood
5.    Quarter sawn glued next to flatsawn
6.    Veneer next to solid stock wood
7.    New wood that needs to look like old wood colors.
8.    Refinishers who need to strip and sand down an old table top and refinish the top to look like the sides of the cabinet.
9.    What degree of translucency you are looking for.

Because of all those variables color matching is back to being accomplished “by eye”. Whether you are creating color or correcting the color, it is critical for the finisher to be in command of color knowledge.

Basically we only have two main choices of coloring agents, one which contains pigment, which I refer to as stain. Paint falls into the pigmented category. The other coloring agent is a dye, which I categorize as having no pigment. There is a third medium, the chemical coloring of wood sometimes referred to as “reactive” stains or mordants. They do not contain pigments, they are more similar to dyes.  When applied to wood they “react” to the chemistry inside the wood, such as the tannins.  Mordants are often applied before dyes are applied to achieve colors not found any other way. For now, let’s stick with the dyes and stains for understanding color.

Dyes and stains (pigments) are two different tools. Used individually they offer two different visual presentations. Used together they greatly expand the color pallet. There are manufactures that formulate their dyes and stains so they are able to be mixed together. Mixing them together can offer a one-step coloring schedule rather than two.

Approaches to mixing colors
1.    Start with a clear base medium and use stains (pigments) using the primary colors, yellow, red and blue with the addition of white and black.
2.    Start with a clear base medium and use stains (pigments) using yellow, red, black and white
3.    Use premixed colored stains. An example would be using the earth tone colors, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber plus black and white.
4.    Use the premixed colored stains plus the primary and/or secondary colors.
5.    Dyes are sold in liquid and powder form.  Decide on using the primary colors or pre-mixed colors such as the earth tones, or use them both.

I teach a systematic approach to using any color system and it all starts with the artists’ terms of hue, chroma, value, shade and tint. When looking at a target color, the first thing to do is identify the hue. Next would be identifying the chroma and then the value of the color. If you understand color theory it does not matter which system of dyes or stains you use.

One reason to start with the earth tones or other similar colors is that hopefully one of them comes close to the target color. Choosing the first earth tone is your base color, your second choice is determined on if you need to “warm up” or “cool off” the first color. It’s not guess work, it’s an educated choice.

Many shades of making “brown” in a one-step application can be made with just one umber and one sienna. Adding a third earth tone color is not unusual. Three well-chosen earth tone colors and the proper proportions of black, white or clear base if needed produces a tremendous amount of colors.

Some finishers would rather work with fewer colors and a clear base. These finishers think of color in “parts”. Example: 100 parts yellow, 10 parts red, 5 parts black is a color. To “tweak” that color is to first understand color and keep track of your “parts”. The results are going to be the same with both systems as long as you understand color theory.

It’s worth mentioning that if you choose to use pre-mixed colors like the earth tones, having the primary colors handy is another valuable addition. An example would be knowing that red needs to be added to your mix.  Burnt Sienna is an orange Hue and is the closest color you have to red.

If the target color can’t be accomplished in a one application step, it will have to involve a color on color finishing schedule. Color knowledge just got more important. A multi-step coloring schedule could involve a dozen or more finishing procedures for a completed color. Those tools for creating color are in the form of dyes, stains, glazes, toners and paint.

I will address those tools in the next blog.


Spot Repair - Level of Damage: Level of Skill

30. June 2016 11:36

By: Mitch Kohanek

“Spot repairing” wood brings to mind so many variations after so many years of repairing damaged objects. Damage to white wood, damage to newly finished wood, damage to just the coating, damage to the finished wood and coating, restoration of old wood and the heritage antiques worked on during my internship at the Smithsonian Museum.

Different levels of damage require different levels of skill.

Repairs happening in the shop where the customer has not seen the damage is a comfortable place to be. Repairs being worked on outside the shop can really be challenging, having fewer repair tools and working on damage that has probably already been seen by the owner.

The first tools needed in either category is your level of talent, creativity and knowledge of your materials. Repairing in house in a manufacturing environment the repair system can be rather straight forward.  If you ask 10 “Road Warrior” repair technicians (those who do repairing at the site of location) how to repair any given damage, you will get a variety different answers.

One example of damage is one that penetrates both the coating and the wood. The repair kit needs to first include something to refill the void in the wood. The higher skill level is associated with the coloring on top of that fill.
There are a host of materials that will fill the void. The size of the damage and the location of the damage will dictate which one of those is a better choice. Soft wax fill sticks, hard wax fill sticks, hard plastic fill sticks, low sheen sticks, high sheen sticks, shellac sticks, polyester fills, epoxy sticks and wood putty to name a few.

Sometimes a “burn in” is required which means the repair stick has to be heated with a hot knife and dropped into place. There are several choices of heating knives to choose from. There are two very different burn in “systems” we will be discussing, each requiring two different skill levels.

All of these sticks come in a variety of colors to correspond to the existing color of the object. The more you know about color matching and performing in-painting (graining), the fewer colored sticks needed. One of the more valuable fill sticks is one that is totally transparent. Excellent stick for dents in the wood and the coating has flexed with the wood with no color loss.

Once the void is filled, the excess needs to be removed and the surface leveled without causing any more damage to the coating or substrate. Don’t forget about the reestablishing the earlywood pores with an open pored finish.
The fill stick now needs the proper protective coating applied on top of it. Padding, brushing and spraying are your options for coating application. Solvent and waterbase coating are your two choices. Compatibility of the repair products and coating should be taken into consideration.

Once the void is filled, leveled and sealed the real “artistry” begins with the in-painting (graining) and creating a faux finish on the repair. The goal is to recreate the color, grain pattern and texture that used to be there.
Depending on the size, shape and location of the in-painting there are different tools to choose from. Touch up markers and graining pens are handy and do not require very much skill. Hopefully you have the right colors and ones that work.

Highly skilled repair technicians rely on pigments and/or dyes for coloring/graining/in-painting using a variety of different sized brushes. Doesn’t matter if it is a transparent, translucent or opaque finish that you are working on. Color is color. The more you know about color, the fewer colored pigments and dyes you need. Plus the fewer colored repair sticks you need.

Color matching is a challenging art. Sheen control can sometimes outweigh the stress of finding color. Off the gun low sheen finishes are a real challenge. Sheen has its nomenclature such as gloss, semi-gloss, satin, flat, dead flat. More accurately sheens are given numbers such as 80 degree sheen (high sheen), 50 degree sheen, 20 degree sheen, 10 degree sheen (low sheen), etc.

It is convenient to have aerosol cans that are labeled with the sheen number they produce. For mechanical sheen control adjustments, steel wool and synthetic steel wool (abrasive pads) have certain grits and sheens associated to what they will produce. A rubbed out satin sheen does not look much like a sprayed on satin sheen.

In order for damage to “disappear” all of these steps need to be executed to its highest degree. In reality making all repairs “disappear” is not reality. With so many variables you need to recognize what actually can be accomplished. The greater the damage, the greater the skill needed.

All of you who have walked this road know that WE are OUR worst critics when it comes to knowing when to quit working on the repair. Some go buy the 6” by 6’ rule.
What I have learned is that when that little voice in the back of your head says “Just one more grain line, just one more bit of color”………. Ignore that little voice.


Centre for Advanced Wood Processing leads off IWF Finishing Symposium

29. June 2016 11:11

The Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP), Canada's national center for education, training, and technical assistance regarding the wood products manufacturing industry, will lead off the IWF 2016 Finishing Symposium.

The symposium will be held a day before IWF, August 23, and will explore a variety of new technologies and best methods attendees can use in their businesses.

Iain MacDonald, managing director of CAWP, will begin the day with an overview of where wood finishing is in 2016, including a discussion of some of the newest methods and technology.  

CAWP, based in Vancouver, is a nonprofit training and technical support center offering a wide range of training courses, professional e-learning programs, in-plant training, product development, and manufacturing improvement services.
Training in wood finishing is a core activity of CAWP. Finishing, a complex activity that represents at least 25 percent of the cost of the wood products,has an enormous influence on overall product appearance and UBC Certificate in Industrial Wood Finishing quality.
CAWP, based at the University of British Columbia, also conducts and coordinates applied research and development. It helps wood product manufacturers test, develop, improve and prototype new products. It also offers technical mentoring services for industrial designers, kiln drying courses, management training, and wood finishing courses.
The full-day Finishing Symposium will include a number of presentations and provide opportunities for attendees to talk to suppliers and finishing experts face-to-face. The program is being developed and presented by FDMC and Woodworking Network, and CAWP.


Social Media & the Forest Products Industry: Reasons for Adoption and Metrics for Success

16. June 2016 07:36

By: Iris Montague, Research Forester: USDA Forest Service; Kathryn Arano, Associate Professor of Forest Resources Management: West Virginia University and Jan Wiedenbeck, Team Leader/Research Forest Products Technologist: USDA Forest Service

In 2013, we investigated social media use by companies in the forest products industry in the U.S. We received information from 166 companies.  About 60% were using some form of social media as part of their marketing mix and most of these companies (90%) had started using social media recently (since 2008).  We learned from these companies that Facebook was the most used social media site, followed by LinkedIn.

The majority (63%) of the companies that were using social media have a person who is dedicated to social media development, yet responses indicated that on average their social media sites only get updated on a monthly basis or less. Research shows that message frequency (the number of times an average person or household is exposed to a company or brand’s message) is very important in achieving consumer recall and attitude change and maintaining fresh content on company social media sites is considered a key to being successful at engaging current and potential customers (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010).

The top three reasons cited by companies for using social media were (1) to increase exposure, (2) to establish branding, and (3) to improve sales. Although the benefits of social media use are well documented, there are still many who are apprehensive about using it.  Generating a return on investment (ROI) to cover costs, generating member/customer activity, having staff to manage social media sites, getting members or fans, and maintaining site security were identified as challenges of adopting social media.

Because the nature of social media as a marketing tool makes calculation of ROI challenging, forest products companies mostly focus on other quantitative metrics (non-dollar) as well as on qualitative metrics for measuring the effectiveness of social media. The top three quantitative metrics used for evaluating social media effectiveness were: (1) number of site visits, (2) number of social network friends, and (3) number of comments/profile views. In terms of qualitative metrics used by companies to measure social media effectiveness, the three most commonly used metrics were: (1) growth of relationships with key audiences, (2) audience participation, and 3) moving from monologue to dialogue with consumers. From a marketing standpoint, focusing on these metrics rather than just ROI may be a good social media strategy.

To learn more about social media and obtain important tips on building a successful social media strategy, please join us at IWF 2016 Education Conference for our sessions, "Social Media Tips and Trends for the Forest Product Industry."



15. June 2016 12:32


As we get closer to the IWF I know the anticipation is mounting in the Lean community!  It would appear that FINALLY we woodworkers are starting to emerge from our caves and see the light.  We are tired of status quo and are searching for a better way. 


If you’re ready for a change, you want to see more employee engagement and finally turn the table on that struggling bottom line.  Get to Atlanta!  Get to the Lean seminar and stop making excuses.  If you think I’m just crazy (which may be true, lean maniacs sometimes are) then check out what people are saying about their Lean transformation


“I took the 6 week average production in dollars through the week you were here ad compared it to the average production since and it is 35-40% more.  Pretty good change overall for a one week blitz”

Bruce Humphrey – Caseworx


“We have eliminated 1 million dollars in overtime in less than one year.  If you think you can do it yourself, you can.  But it may take years and years to get the same results we have seen in months”

Dustin Giffin – Giffin Interiors


In my opinion my shop was operating at optimum efficiency until we discovered “Lean”.  We are now operating more efficiently, consistently and out producing what we thought possible”

Elvin Martin – Mullet Door



Need I say morejQuery15204068798553455194_1466019138607  Get to the Lean seminar and start to transform your life and the life’s around you!


Are Mushrooms the Solution to the Industry’s Petroleum & Chemical-based Resin Challenge?

9. June 2016 06:53

n     Growing Interest in the Industries New, Natural Resin

Could mushroom materials be the solution to the industry challenge of formaldehyde and other toxic resins used in the production of engineered wood? 

That was the question posed by furniture industry executives to our co-founders at Ecovative a few years ago.  It may sound like an odd question to some, but as the pioneer and world leader in mycelium-based biomaterials and, given that we use biology to grow materials with exceptional properties unattainable through conventional chemistry, the question made perfect sense for us to explore.

Flash forward two years, and the answer is “yes,” and the solution is MycoBoard™ a premium, customizable, certified sustainable engineered wood product. It is bound together using mycelium—“nature’s glue”—which is formaldehyde-free, safe, and healthy. This versatile, non-toxic engineered wood, which offers natural fire-resistant properties, can be molded into custom shapes or pressed into boards, making it an ideal solution for the architectural and design community.

You will find MycoBoard™ in an award winning chair, in commercial wall panels, and in other products being produced by leading furniture manufacturers and designers.

MycoBoard™ provides a solution to the rising cost of resins, the growing customer concerns about product health and safety, and looming possibility of expanded government regulations.


Interested in talking about how to integrate this new bio-resin into your product planning and production?  Join us at the “Wood Composites Symposium,” on Tuesday, August 23rd.  In session one (8:30 a.m.) we will be talking about “Resins and Coatings for Wood Composites” – including Ecovative’s bio-based resins—for composite panels and structural members.


3 Axis Nested Based CNC-What Else Can I Do With It?

8. June 2016 09:17
So you have purchased your first CNC Router! The jobs are flowing thru the shop at a pace that you could have only dreamed of and you are becoming more comfortable with the machine and the programing. Now you start to dream about the possibilities and doors that are opening up if you could make other items with all of the excess capacity that is available for your CNC. This is precisely the vision that I had for my CNC router 8 years ago when I purchased my first router.
For the first year or so we produced just our cabinet parts via Cabinet Vision we would occasionally cut curved bottom rails or lambs Tongue feet for vanities and the like. Along the way we learned about fixturing methods for flat table CNC routers.

We then took on a project that would require elliptical casings, Keystone with center carvings and a two story tall great room with spoon gouged rift oak panels and large detailed crown with applied rafter tail ends. This required additional software with which we would be able to produce complex 3-D shapes and geometries. We used Vetric V-Carve Pro for the spoon gouge texturing and Bob Cad Cam for the true 3-D carvings and elliptical moldings. Both packages were fairly easy to learn and we were producing code within a couple of weeks. With these software packages you had to understand more about 3-D drawing and layering as well as proper tooling and tool path strategies.


As we developed all of these skills we were able to diversify our products and offerings to our customers which in turn bought additional work into our shop and allowed us to bid on jobs we would have passed on prior to having the CNC in our shop. We were also able to produce just CNC parts for other companies and individuals. We have turned the machining of cabinet parts and components into its own business that we market separately from the cabinet business with great success and profit.

In closing I have found with few exceptions that we are able to produce just about anything we or our customers can dream of. You will need to put in time to research the proper software and tooling to produce the product need and learn about different fixturing techniques, tooling types and tool path strategies. If you do all of this you will put your investment of time and money to work for you and your company in ways you had not imagined.

You can learn more about the discussion above this summer at IWF in Atlanta myself and David Bushsbaum will be presenting for IWF Education Conference on Wednesday August 24th from 3-4pm CNC Tips And Tricks

Author: Leland Thomasset

I am Leland Thomasset owner and president of Taghkanic Woodworking,, and Pawling Closet Company