Building & Renovation

Refinishing Safety

Refinishing wood furniture can be a hazardous job. The chemicals and toxins in many refinishing materials can injure or burn your skin. Others, if swallowed, absorbed or breathed can cause damage to your internal organs. In addition, most stains, lacquers, and varnishes are highly flammable.

You should always take great care to your personal protection and fire safety when refinishing wood furniture. Bodily harm and fire are common occurrences when working with refinishing materials. This post will help you identify and eliminate these hazards before they burn your down your house.

Personal Protection

Most refinishing materials can easily burn and irritate your skin if you’re not careful. Protective glasses and gloves are strongly recommended! Gloves aren’t completely necessary if your working with non-hazardous materials, but protective glasses should always be worn.

If you are ever burned by refinishing materials you should immediately flush your skin with semi-cold running water. Keep the burned area of the skin under the running water for at least 15 minutes. If you plan on refinishing a lot of furniture you may consider setting up a special eye wash station. They are designed to rinse your eyes clean of chemicals much more efficiently.

An apron may also provide you with some protection from burns. They will protect both your skin and your clothes from damage.

Breathing dust or vapors can be harmful to your lungs and other internal organs. Always wear a respirator when spraying a finish or sanding a bleached surface. Dust and vapors can be cause serious lung problems if proper safety precautions are not followed.

Proper ventilation will also reduce the amount of vapor or dust you breathe in. Make sure the spray booth is well ventilated and that the dust collection system is working. Good ventilation and dust collection reduce but do not eliminate the hazard. Always wear a respirator when spraying or sanding bleached surfaces.

Avoid smoking while sanding or spraying wood that needs to be refinished. The dust or vapor will mix with the smoke and could be very harmful to your lungs. There is also the possibility of fire. Be sure to wash well before eating or smoking. Any finishing material on your hands or face could be inhaled or swallowed when you smoke or eat.

Fire Safety

For a fire to start there must be fuel, heat, and oxygen present. This is known as the “fire triangle.” It’s recommended that you store finishing materials in a closed cabinet away from heat. Also, keep any doors and drawers closed to reduce the amount of available oxygen. Storing used rags in a closed container will also help reduce the amount of available oxygen. Takign these precautions will reduce the chance of a fire indefinitely.

Again, the refinishing area should be “non smoking.” Spray vapors can cause an explosion if they’re ignited. In addition, a careless smoker could provide the flame that starts a fire.

Fires may also be caused when used solvents are not disposed of correctly. Solvents should be collected in an approved container and discarded each night. Never pour solvents into sinks or drains connected to the sewer system either. This will contaminate our water and could cause an explosion in the sewer system! Make sure that all used solvents are disposed of correctly. Check local ordinances or consult with the fire department to become educated of the correct way to dispose of solvents.

About the Author

Dave owns a new blog with various how-to guides explaining how-to refinish teak, pine, oak, mahogany, etc. wood furniture. Refinishing Furniture is dedicated to helping the public restore old furniture to look brand new!

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