Vanadium is bad news...Black Walnut?

Jun 13, 2000
I was rough cutting some slabs of black walnut on my deck last week, outdoors, hot, but a good breeze. I had never done this before and I was thinking of scale material for knives. Most of the sawdust was falling and blowing away with the wind, but some landed on my legs and stuck to the persperation.

The wood was cut and split this spring for firewood and was still a bit wet in the center. After getting a couple small blocks and cutting off a couple slabs I noticed that my legs were broken out in hives. I stopped cutting and took a shower and the hives went away.

I know that black walnut produces something that won't let other plants compete in its area...but have never heard of it affecting humans. I have read that some woods are toxic but don't remember this one being one of them.

Anyone know anything about this?


Mr. Ralph's advice should be heeded. Once again, we should wear a respirator when we create any sort of dust. A number of wood workers seem to develop emphesema over the years if they don't wear their's.

I used to do quite a bit of woodworking prior to "getting into this knife thing". If you look at some of the woodworking magazines such as "Wood" or "Workbench" there is always a one page section that highlights a particular wood species and its uses, grain structure and TOXICITY. After seeing this feature in issue after issue I came to the conclusion that most, if not all wood, is toxic in one way or the other. Cedar is, along with most exotics. Skin irritation is a big factor. Everyone discusses cocobola from time to time since it is a nice looking wood that is quite popular. But with my sensitivity, it is nothing in comparison to redheart. I am not saying that I am impurvious to the effects of cocobola, it just doesn't have the same effect as redheart does on me. Redheart will "run me out of the shop". Desert ironwood (honey mesquite) is a close second.

Want to hear something funny? (As in peculiar or strange) I have seen some B E A U T I F U L duck calls made out of cocobola. Can you imagine someone having an alergic reaction and broken out on the lips after blowing one of those all morning!

C Wilkins
I had a similar reaction on my forearms from carrying firewood (shaggy bark Juniper)which is in the cedar family.Soap would not stop it,finally used paint thinner on my arms.And like Craig and Darrel said.
I've had some very violent reactions to teak. Just think, If the dust reacts that way on your skin what is it doing to your LUNGS?

did someone say something about a good dust mask?
i am concedering making a 30" sword. i like to use stainless mostly ATS-34 i live two blocks from the
ocean and i can literaly watch steel rust in my shop. the question is, are there any steels that work better in longer lenths. the longest i've made with ATS-34 is a 12" blade. any suggestions?
As an adden, uh, heck, a followup!

Due to where teak grows, it has silica in it. Teak will dull cutting tools and bits in nothing flat! Carbide is the rule with teak. Silica is BAAAAAAAD on the lungs, ask an old sandblaster, if any are still around...

Once again, get a GOOD respirator. One that is readily available that you can pick up at any Sears store. Item 9-18574. They are more expensive than what you could get from MSC or Graingers or whatnot but it is the convenience you are paying for. These by the way, are not approved for sandblasting but are approved for protection of dust like lead or asbestos, fumes, and sprays such as paint and pesticides. They are not approved for paints containing isocyanate materials, ammonia, formaldehyde.

All that those paper masks ever accomplished was to fog up my safety glasses.

C Wilkins

Air hardened steel for a long blade, A2 comes to mind...
FACE THE FACTS: one of these are going to breath too much of whatever it is....and then you will might even be too much air!! :)
i read that it causes dermitus, which is what you experienced, sorta like poision ivy. just be careful around all woods expecially black walnut and the tropical hardwoods. i wear long jeans and boots in the shop year round, actually thats about all i wear, i dont even own a pair of shorts :D i shouldnt have to tell you this, the posts above me did that quite well, but wear your respirator.
A couple years ago, I found a company that sells a wide variety of gear. That includes safety equipment, including masks/respirator/hearing protection, etc.

Their prices are reasonable -- IMO -- and they have frequent sales. I'm on their mailing list, and hear from them maybe every 2 months or even oftener. I've bought gloves, sacateurs, hats, safety glasses that fit over my regular specs, etc.

The outfit is named Gemplers. Their URL is:

Hope this may be useful.