Silky Oak Turned Bowl -- WARNING!

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Project by N3FSD posted 06-04-2017 08:24 PM 1087 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Several years ago at a woodworking show in Tampa, I picked up a small turning block of a waxed turning block that I thought would be good for a simple, small bowl.

This week i finally turned this and I really liked the uniqueness of the grain and coloration. i wasn’t sure of what kind of wood it was, but it was marked “S.O” on the blank. I did notice that while I was spinning the bowl (I used a round carbide tip tool), that instead of the normal “shavings”, this appeared to just generate a real fine dust, almost like a powder. Needless to say in Florida i was tuning away in just may tee shirt and shorts – I was covered with this sawdust.

About two days later i developed a highly inflamed rash over both my forearms (up to where my shirt sleeves started), my torso and back of my knees. After three days in complete agony (no pain, just inflamed rash and incessant itching), my doctor diagnosed this as “contact dermatitis”. An initial cortisone shot and 7 day Medrol pack of prednisone was ordered. I was very fortunate that I did not have any pulmonary reaction, as I was negligent in wearing my respirator also. I am on my fourth day of Rx and just now seing some relief from the discomfort.

My investigation led to identifying the wood as Silky Oak (Grevillea Robusta). It has a real tight, almost curly, grain with rich coloring. HOWEVER, it is well documented that the leaves, green wood, sap, and sawdust, are prone to cause contact dermatitis! My suggestions – to which I am directing towards myself mostly – 1) Wear skin protective clothing and proper face/nasal equipment when turning wood. 2) Be cautious and do so research on the type of wood you are working with if you are unfamiliar with it. 3) Be aware if you personally are prone to any allergies or reactions to foreign substances. I never knew that I was allergic to certain woods, however I did know that I have a history of allergetic reactions to poison ivy, poison oak, and insect bites.

Oh, BTW, i have an extra piece of this Silky Oak wrapped in Saran Wrap and inside a gallon size zip-lock bag if you are interested!

Happy turning! God’s blessing your way! Don

-- "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind... and you shall love your neighbor as yourself"

7 comments so far

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3572 days

#1 posted 06-04-2017 08:31 PM

I worked with spalted maple for years with out a problem. this year I have started getting a rash just looking at the stuff. I just gave away a bunch of real nice SM to someone who can use it.

View ralbuck's profile


5419 posts in 2470 days

#2 posted 06-04-2017 08:31 PM

Sorry about the reactions.

A very nice bowl anyway!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View gratcliffe's profile


3 posts in 2510 days

#3 posted 06-04-2017 08:53 PM

I feel really bad because I allowed you to purchase that blank of wood. Take care my friend, w really miss you guys.

View robscastle's profile


5489 posts in 2407 days

#4 posted 06-04-2017 09:02 PM

You may wish to consider booking a a weekend on the Harley Davidson Heritage Softail and let the wind heal all!!

Nice looking bowl, pitty about the bod, the reaction from my research is a result of a process called ageing as well
Sounds like you are begining to recover, think back to your younger years, if you fell off your bike the bigest concern was it OK now the thought is more about what happens to the rider if it falls over on you!!

-- Regards Rob

View Nairb's profile


11 posts in 1846 days

#5 posted 06-04-2017 11:03 PM

Does anyone know of a good, reliable list of wood types that are known to cause negative skin or respiratory problems?

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3070 days

#6 posted 06-05-2017 05:38 PM

It looks like a nice bowl but it sure is unfortunate that you must have been allergic to it, or at least sensitive to it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3344 posts in 3312 days

#7 posted 06-05-2017 08:45 PM

That kind of reaction is common. I get it from bloodwood, but not that badly.


-- Random Orbital Nailer

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