Fire in the Shed!

Ok, it wasn’t all that dramatic (could have been though).

I’ve just been out there, shooting the latest video (I have 3 in the can now – better get them out there!)  This one is the start of the sharpening set that I’ve been promising.

I was kindly given a dead blade by Terry Gordon (HNT Gordon Planes), and it was a true dead blade, so I didn’t have to feel bad abusing good steel.  I was using the belt and disk sander to get the back of the blade relatively flat (it was twisted in the heat treatment process, which is why Terry rejected it).  The smell of burning plastic was slowly getting stronger and stronger, and a few wisps of smoke were becoming apparent from the sander.

To cut a long story short, the steel was forming a fine, fibrous dust (no idea the mechanism involved here!), which was carrying significant heat, and being so fine, it was getting right into the dust extraction system of the belt & disk sander, and started causing the wood powder that was present to smolder.

I left it a bit, monitoring it, and it wasn’t getting less…..and the opposite of less is……

At one stage I managed to peer deep into the unit from just the right angle, and it was glowing down there…rather nicely.  The gap was too small for marshmallows, so I thought I’d better put it out instead.  Unfortunately, after stripping off all the covers I could easily, I still couldn’t get anywhere near it.  In the end, I resorted to compressed air blasts – this probably did increase the burning for a bit, but it was a calculated risk.  I do have a fire extinguisher in the shed, in case there wasn’t an improvement, but it seems that I was successful.

Goes to show though: it is good to spend a bit of time after working doing a bit of general cleaning – it allows this sort of event to become obvious before you leave the shed, rather than afterwards!  The way it was going, I would say that this would have resulted in a full blown fire if I hadn’t actively intervened.   Guess there is something to be said for not using woodworking tools for metalwork, but who has the luxury (and space) for duplicate machines?!

3 Responses

  1. So very lucky there Stuart.

  2. Just goes to show – there is no room for complacency!

  3. I good catch! Too many shops get “over heated” each year. Yes, I have found that it is a good practice to never leave your “shed” until after clean up. It allows you that extra time to make sure nothing is smoldering behind the scene.

    thanks for a great blog. I have been following it since it started. Good job.

    Your friend from over the pond,
    John

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