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Spontaneous Combustion

wood finishing

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher



Not long ago a woodshop burned to the ground and the cause was determined to be "spontaneous combustion". This was a subject we covered in wood shop class during my eighth grade of high school.

My instructor and great woodworker, Mr Landes, (I still have the first piece I built in his class) explained that almost all drying oils produce heat during the drying process. We were all made well aware of the safety precautions needed to keep our shop from burning as well.

Here are seven tips to keep in mind for your own shop safety.

  1. Never just "throw away" an oily rag.
  2. Place oily rags in water if possible.
  3. Hang rags on a line to dry out before disposing.
  4. Never place rags in a closed container where the heat cannot escape.
  5. Treat paper the same as cloth rags.
  6. Never just "lay out" the rags on your workbench to dry.
  7. If ever in doubt take the time to take a second look. It could save your life and that Rolls Royce you've been building for the past few years.


Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:


Sep 13, 2014  Spray Finishing
Oct 1, 2014  French Polish Workshop
Oct 11-12, 2014  Antique Restoration



Visit Highland Woodworking's Online Wood Finishing Supplies Department




Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at anoelfurniturere@bellsouth.net.


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