Safety And Fire Part Two


From original questioner:

Ok I Almost did it again !!! look at what happens after about 48 seconds into this film

HOW QUICK WE BECOME COMPLACENT,, I was finishing some plaques with boiled linseed oil (Rare I do this out side of the finish room) and Knocked over the gallon can with the CNC gantry, I mopped it up using rags and sawdust as an absorbent and put it all in a plastic trash can, it was cold and I thought no more of it,, the only thing I did right was to sweep the Surrounding desk all up and put the can in the Middle of the area, somehow this is something I always due thinking flammable,, had I been on top of my game I would have put it all in a metal disposal can (we do have them) and not put the rags in with the soaked sawdust.

From contributor Ka

WTF,are you telling me that went out on its own? You know you only get so many mulligans.

Spontaneous combustion ,I always put the paper towels I use in a metal can filled with water outside.

The only thing you should clean up spills with is sand /kitty litter.

From contributor ja

This is something i Have always done in the finish room, and a real DS thing to do, i would far rather come here and post it on hope of recognizing my stupidity than to cower and repeat it. anyone who thinks they are above it be careful. !!

From contributor de

this is all too real a possibility.
always either soak your oily rags in water, or drape them out flat to dry.

From contributor Da

Son of a nutcracker! Always knew this was a possibility but never saw it happen live. Wow what a wake up call!

From contributor ja

I spilled the boiled linseed oil at 3-4 pm last Saturday, it was 32 degrees in the shop. the fire lit at 5:10 am on Monday, the Flames stopped on the film at 6:42 the first arrival got there and broke down the door at 6:47. I use 20 k feet of 100k Smoke was through out the building. and the smell finally began to subside by friday

No such thing as Just a little, there were no cloth rags soaked,, the material spilled on the snc top and off onto the deck, I was carving some walnut plaques and had a lot of shavings, I used this to soak up the larger portion of the oil then same on the deck, I used a few paper towels to wipe the oil off ot the Metal frame and Rails of the CNC. . Just does not Matter it was a serious Wake up call,, all day Monday we got out the leaf blowers and dusted down from ceiling to deck, then once fallen in every nook and cranny under tables and Machinery, I am Navy Vet the deck is kept clean, we sweep daily, Good Brooms are a good investment. it has been hard to teach this to some, none of us smoke, Piles are always move to the center of the deck and cleaned up,, Here in SC we saw The plant that used to Build all of the Applebee's Bars bur slap down and I can remember the PILES of sawdust shavings just under everything and against the walls, it was like walking thru a snow drift,, I hope this helps someone..

To any one who is curious I use the dropcam pros at 199.00 each (FAR BETTER THAN THE 149.00 MODEL) I also have the weekly service at like 7.95 a month that allows me to record and retrieve for 7 days. it is all online wifi. in august a Contract worker exploded when told she had to go in my office, (obviously they were not happy) they went out and filed complaints with every agency that would give her an audience including some court systems. most did not file any complaint and turned them away but some did in the interest of ethics. THANK god for the CAMERA in My Office as whenever it has been shown of what actually happened in the office that day the Issue goes to sleep quickly..

From contributor mi

thanks for posting and glad you escaped a more serious situation.

From contributor ca

I've had three similar experiences.

Once I had a router table affixed to a wooden post in the shop. There was a small build up of sawdust on the top edge of the baseboard molding that wrapped around the post.

Somehow the router generated an ember that landed on the sawdust. In this case the ember burned a trail around two sides of the sixteen inch post before self extinguishing.

On another case it was also an ember that lit up the sawdust in a cloth dust collection bag that ships with a typical chopsaw.

The third time it was an old ballast from a florescent light fixture. I came into the shop that morning right after there had been a fire down the street the night before. I didn't think much of the smokey smell till I looked up to see why my light wasn't coming on. There was a small curl of smoke coming off the top of the fixture. It had smoked long enough to create a 5 foot radius pattern of soot on the ceiling above it.

Now that I think about it I also had the end of a florescent light fixture melt down. That was also flame related.

I'm pretty lucky. None of the fires caused any damage and were either self-extinguished or caught early. The take away, as James says, is to keep all your shop surfaces clean.

Also keep your electrical outlets blown out. Wirenuts get loose with expansion & contraction and when this happens can arc.

From contributor C

Could you clarify what went on with your contract worker? It sounds like she went off on you or your office but I couldn't understand what occurred. Obviously your cameras caught the whole episode and it sounds like they saved you a lot of grief! Just wasn't clear on what went on.

I often use temporary people when my work load gets too crazy and your story caught my attention; both the fire and the employee issue! Thanks for sharing James.


From contributor Ch


I have the same question about the contract worker.

Did she go into the office when she was not supposed to? Or, did she not go in the office when she was supposed to?

I just couldn't follow your post. Anyway, glad the camera worked well.

From contributor Ch

Thanks for the "heads up"
Like you say better safe than sorry.
I often use left over saw dust and wood chips to clean up spills but dispose of them safely.
This was a good reminder that not all shop safety is at the table saw!
Thanks again,

From contributor ja

The Good news is the Cameras work, we will have to save the contract worker story for another day,, I can only Pray none of you ever have to witness a person in such distress. someone you like and hope all the best for them.

From contributor Ch


Enough said about the office camera. I think I know enough now. I have thought about cameras in my shop in the past. I may want to consider them again.

What surprised me was the amount of time that passed until the fire started. Thanks for sharing that. I have not used boiled linseed oil in many years. But, I need to check to see if there is any left over, and how safely it is stored. Probably time to just dispose of it, and any of the other flammables that are not being used.

From contributor Ka

If your glazing or staining with oil such as Watco , your working with BLO . Sealed in a stored can isn't the problem, spontaneous combustion is so well known and documented most non woodworkers are aware of it.over the years I've heard of and seen the results of piled oily rags.

From contributor Ch


I agree that sealed in a stored can isn't a problem. What I am concerned about is if one of those cans springs a leak. Some other combustible products would probably just evaporate and a disaster would be avoided. With BLO, the outcome could be much different.

From contributor Ka

I have 30 year old cans of watco no leaks. the only cans I've had leak are fairly new gallons of ml Campbell dye ,the labels fall off too. Years ago I'd seen painters store their goods in a large knack box.

From contributor Je

Wow, that's a seriously lucky day for you. I applaud you for posting it. We all do stupid things from time to time, but the easy thing is to try to forget it and move on. It takes a lot more courage to post it online for the good of others!

I'm also a firm believer in keeping the shop as clean as possible. I had an employee come into the office several years back to inform me there were sparks shooting out of a light. I went back and sure enough there was a shower of sparks and plenty of black smoke as well coming out of a fluorescent fixture. Luckily there was no real harm done. I replaced the ballast the same day and got back to work.


From contributor ca


I mentioned the florescent fixture earlier.

In this case you could see a quick flash of orange race down the tube then disappear.
For some reason I ignored it.

Came in to find broken tube glass all over the floor. When I looked up I saw that the plastic end that retained the bulb had completely melted.

There is no end to the ways to get fukked in this business.

From contributor La

Thanks for the post.

From contributor Ri

A can leak should not be a problem. Heat builds as these products dry, but if it leaks out it has a lot of surface area and the heat should not be intense enough to start a fire. Pack rags, paper towels, and wet sawdust together in a garbage can, and combustion just became easy! A friend lost an entire shed full of shop equipment and lawn equipment in a similar fire. He lost everything because his garbage can was next to his lawn tractor. The fire got the tractor hot enough it melted the gas tank on the tractor. So he then added 5 gallons of gas to a fire just like you had Jim. He said the metal siding got hot enough he could see shadows of his equipment through the metal while standing outside watching it all burn. Thanks for educating.

From contributor Mi

Policy in my shop is that.

1. All oil or solvent soaked rags MUST be supervised, and removed from the building within 10 minutes of use. We soak them in water, and place them in a metal container outside. Absorbents used to clean up spills are treated the same way.

2. Any scrapings, or sanding dust from varnishes, oil based materials are also removed from the building in the same manor. I recall reading about a fire that started in a trash can from debris that was created by scraping glaze on this very forum.