Had a bit of a scare last night. Smoke!

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Forum topic by Shamus posted 12-11-2010 03:26 AM 1257 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 2535 days

12-11-2010 03:26 AM

I just got lucky.
I recycle a lot of hardwood plank flooring. Typically half of the wood I get someone else has pulled up and I either pick it up or they deliver. I have a standard way I process the flooring. I sort by width and separate anything that needs milling to refresh the tongue or grove as well as ends.

Last night I ran a dozen or so boards through the table saw to cut off broken tongues so I could mill new ones on today. I shut everything down, checked that I hadn’t left anything on and walked out of the shop back to the house. Well about 20 minutes later I thought I’d run back out in the cold one more time and bring in a wood plane I’d picked up at auction and pull it apart for cleaning.

When I opened the door to the shop I smelled something burning. Turned on the light and the whole shop was filled with smoke but no flame anyplace. I grabbed the extinguisher and walked around, felt all the wires, they were cold to the touch so I knew it wasn’t electrical.
I ran around in a panic for a few minutes and decided I needed to open the door and get a fan on to pull out the smoke so I could find where and what was smoldering. I had pulled out the catch drawer under the saw and didn’t find anything. The smoke was rising from the top corner of the table. I pulled off the table saw blade insert and with a flashlight saw a smoldering black patch, about a handful, trapped in the inside corner of my table saw base.

I decided that a Windex spray bottle would work and it did.

I am pretty anal about using my metal detector on every piece of recycled wood that I touch. All I can figure is I missed one board and it had a piece of nail in it that the saw blade took off and threw it into the corner.
I shudder to think what would of happened if I hadn’t gone out after that old plane.

Lesson learned. I will be double checking for nails from now on.

14 replies so far

View sras's profile


4362 posts in 2547 days

#1 posted 12-11-2010 03:58 AM

Wow – very interesting. Quite the dective routine to figure that one out. If I understand right, a bit of metal (nail) got cut and the chip was hot enough to start smoldering? Makes sense, but I would have not of anticiapted that one. Note to self …

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View ChuckV's profile


2872 posts in 2945 days

#2 posted 12-11-2010 04:11 AM

That sure IS a scare. I am glad to hear that all turned out well. Thanks for sharing this with us all – it could very well help someone else.

-- “And the products of wealth push you along on the bow wave of their spiritless undying selves.” ― I. Anderson

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3517 days

#3 posted 12-11-2010 04:13 AM

Thanks for confirming that it can happen with reclaimed/recycled wood. I have always been careful of just such an event in my own shop.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Dark_Lightning's profile


2619 posts in 2526 days

#4 posted 12-11-2010 04:22 AM

Lucky it was in a place that appears to be starved for oxygen, there amongst the sawdust. We have these cigarette disposal things at work, and the same thing happens there- the things smolder for hours. I walk by and the stench is unbelievable.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View DaleM's profile


952 posts in 2801 days

#5 posted 12-11-2010 04:24 AM

Thanks for sharing. A fire in the shop is my biggest fear, more so than cutting something off, because my shop is in my basement with my whole family upstairs.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View Shamus's profile


16 posts in 2535 days

#6 posted 12-11-2010 04:39 AM

Yes it was indeed a small piece of nail that was broken off in the tounge of one of the boards I was ripping down. The saw blade hitting it created a spark and it ignited the sawdust in that corner of the saw. Or it may have been a hot piece of cut nail, I don’t know which.

I’ve been plumbing up my dust collector and haven’t completed the run to the table saw. I’m now curious if that spark or hot piece of cut nail would have created a similar issue inside the dust bag. For now I think I’ll keep things the way they are.

View Dustmite97's profile


439 posts in 2638 days

#7 posted 12-11-2010 04:49 AM

I also have a shop in my basement and a shop fire is definitely my biggest fear.

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1511 posts in 2982 days

#8 posted 12-11-2010 02:10 PM

Wow, glad to hear this didn’t turn out worse… Thanks for posting, I never considered hitting a nail could cause a fire.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2492 days

#9 posted 12-11-2010 03:07 PM

FWIW – I occasionally buy lumber from a local guy who owns a small sawmill business. I’ve hit a nail in a piece of walnut I bought from him. It’s not just recycled material that you need to be careful of.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4403 posts in 3378 days

#10 posted 12-11-2010 06:46 PM

Good catch. I always do a last time walk around each night before I hit the sack just to be on the safe side.


View sras's profile


4362 posts in 2547 days

#11 posted 12-11-2010 07:24 PM

I would think that traveling down into a dust collector would cool a spark or chip off, but one could never be sure. Hmmm …

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View JasonIndy's profile


187 posts in 2853 days

#12 posted 12-11-2010 08:44 PM

This is a very good safety tip. I’ve always looked for nails for the sake of my tools but never thought about the fire hazard. Thank you very much for posting.

View helluvawreck's profile


22669 posts in 2284 days

#13 posted 12-11-2010 09:17 PM

We almost lost a Weinig molder because of it. It wasn’t a whole lot of fun replacing all of the airlines and electrical wires under the machine. :)

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2401 days

#14 posted 12-11-2010 09:37 PM

Having worked with a lot of yellow pine this was a daily maintenance check to clean the resinous pitch from inside the cabinet. I guess it just goes to show that with hardwood its best to keep that habit.
Glad you were able to catch it in a timely manner. Thanks for reminding us how important those daily checks are.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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