Many woodworkers are making holiday gifts in their shops. Are you one of them? Please remember to exercise caution with rags used to apply the finish.
What is the safety issue?
Varnish used in the shop in some cases will self-ignite, given proper conditions. Why? As a varnish containing linseed oil, or Danish and tung oil dries, it generates a LOT of heat. Unvented, this can cause the “goop” left in the rags to self-ignite – to spontaneously burn. This can cause your shop, your home, to come down in flames.
The following is key: Hang out your laundry
Whatever you do, PLEASE unroll the rags, and hang them to dry with plenty of air circulation to take away the heat.
The thought of someone failing to follow this simple procedure invaded my skull while doing a tiny bit of finishing today. As I applied Waterlox to a small piece of sycamore, it hit me that not everyone may be thinking about hazards lurking in the shadows. For example, can you figure out the potential problem in the following photo?
Prior to leaving the shop I lay out all the rags I use, with plenty of air circulation:
What do you do?
I wonder how many times I ignored the basic rule of applying varnish with a cloth. How about you? Have YOU ever had an incident such as a fire due to carelessness? Or have you heard of someone in the family losing possessions due to a fire started with rags used to apply a varnish?
Please leave your story in the Comments section. Thanks!
— Al Navas