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View Full Version : Skin reactions to different woods/finishes



JamieFromOntario
07-03-2012, 06:08 AM
Over the last couple of years, I've had bumps/pimple-type-thingies on my hands. I had thought that these were warts based on a 30 second, walk-in clinic doctor's (mis)diagnosis (shame on me for not getting a second opinion...especially since it doesn't cost anything).

Now that I have a long-term family doctor to work with, we are coming to the conclusion that these bumps may be a reaction to the woods, resins or finishes in the ukes I play and build.

So here's the question, have any or you as builders and players had skin reactions on your hands and arms to the woods or finishes that you work with?

For interest's sake, I primary player is a bluegrass uke with a cocobolo fingerboard. I've also been building a solid mahogany uke recently that I finished with tung oil (not wearing gloves when I did the finishing). Anyone had skins reactions to any of these?

Chris_H
07-03-2012, 06:27 AM
2 types of people.... those who are allergic to Cocobolo, and, those who do not Know it yet. If you are having reactions which you think may be from contact with your instrumant, and it has ANY Cocobolo, especially if it is not buried under many layers of finish, Cocobolo causes problems for many people. Some people are very allergic to Cocobolo.

spookefoote
07-03-2012, 06:36 AM
When I was a bench hand I would get a reaction from Iroko

JamieFromOntario
07-03-2012, 06:41 AM
Yeah, I had heard that cocobolo is one of the worst woods for inciting allergic reactions but i thought it was more an issues of inhaling saw-dust or getting the oils on your hands when you were building with it.

It'll be a real shame if it's the cocobolo that's causing this reaction; I absolutely love playing my bluegrassuke and don't have the money to get a new one (the prices have gone up substantially since I bought mine...).

I was thinking that I might try to not play it for a while (I guess I'll have to play my MP - what a terrible, horrible shame) and see if that makes any difference.



I do wonder, though, if it could be the mahogany and/or tung oil from my newest kit built uke. I just finished it up recently and have been playing it a fair bit. The doc thought that mahogany often caused reactions as well. I haven't had or played a mahogany uke before this kit one.

Gyozu
07-03-2012, 07:13 AM
I had a job working at a factory that made, among other things, epoxies. After about 6 months there I had to quit due to becoming sensitized to some component that was in the epoxy. Gave me a rash that bordered on a chemical burn. I had worked with epoxies a lot before hiring on there and never had a problem. Once I got sensitized, that was it. Even 40 years later I can't even use 5 min epoxy outside.

If you have problems, look at controlling dust , vapors and contact with your body in general. You may be OK with something now and suddenly one day your in the ER. Seen that happen a lot to people and Poison Ivy.

ER runs and huge quantities of steriods are to be avoided. You are the most important tool in the shop and your body was not designed to be a filter.

Lots of woods cause problems. Cocobolo is often cited, but I have seen problems with Walnut. Unknow foreigh woods can be problematical plus some woods are treated with various chemicals befor shipping that can become airborne when cut or ground. Nearly lost a freind of mine who is a knifemaker from treated wood.

rudechuck
07-03-2012, 07:16 AM
I'm friends with the owner of Bark River Knife and Tool in Michigan and he uses all kinds of exotic woods, bone, horn, stag and synthetic materials. The one thing he won't use for handle material is cocobolo. Here's a quote (FYI: Skittles is the nickname of a guy that works in his shop):


Cocobolo Dust is indeed poisonous to all Humans.
The level of toxicity depends on the individual.
It does not bother me much at all. I just get a burning sensation in my nose.
Skittles goes into Anaphylactic Shock from it.
We found that out the hard way.
We will never use it.
We do use cocobolo Dymmondwood laminate if requested but not Actual cocobolo.

Rick Turner
07-03-2012, 07:30 AM
Tassie blackwood sawdust, aka Acacia melanoxylon is listed as carcinogenic in Aussie publications.

Shazzbot
07-03-2012, 07:43 AM
I work with all types of woods.
The dust that bothers me is walnut.
Therefore I don't work with walnut.
While cocobolo is one of the most likely woods to cause reaction, it is not poisonous to all humans.
I work with it regulary with no ill effects.
Of course I ALWAYS wear a mask when sanding any wood and have a faily sophisticated dust collection system.
The trick is to find out the specific allergen that is bothering you.
Google wood toxicity charts and you find a ton of info.

DeVineGuitars
07-03-2012, 07:49 AM
I work with all types of woods.
The dust that bothers me is walnut.
Therefore I don't work with walnut.
While cocobolo is one of the most likely woods to cause reaction, it is not poisonous to all humans.
I work with it regulary with no ill effects.
Of course I ALWAYS wear a mask when sanding any wood and have a faily sophisticated dust collection system.
The trick is to find out the specific allergen that is bothering you.
Google wood toxicity charts and you find a ton of info.
I was under the impression that cocobolo was a carcinogen?

Shazzbot
07-03-2012, 08:47 AM
http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/wood-allergies-and-toxicity/

Michael Smith
07-03-2012, 12:12 PM
I met a guy that gave me many nice tools because he became so allergic to cocobolo he feared for his health. He felt he had to quit building altogether.

Pete Howlett
07-03-2012, 12:23 PM
Here's the OLD news - ALL woods are carcinogens! High levels of throat and nose cancer in the High Wycombe area of England attributed to beech dust in the furniture making industry. Now who would have thought of that? Back in the 60's they did. So... remember, like all things, some woods are more toxic than others and just as some people get hay fever and others do not, some get asthma and others do not, some will be reactors to certain woods and others will not. I am just about to take my life into my hands by working with macasser ebony. It will cause me to get puffy eyes etc but hey, I can suffer for my craft a little! And those black resonators with their nickle plated coverplates are going to look great!

mrhandy
07-03-2012, 03:06 PM
I'm allergic to Jatoba and Silk Oak/Lace wood. I learned recently about the lace wood sad thing is that I break out just like i do from poison ivy, takes about a week for the rash to set in... not a fun 2 weeks for me.

Bradford
07-03-2012, 03:27 PM
I get a poison ivy like reaction from Bolivian rosewood, but never had any problems with cocobolo.

Brad

JamieFromOntario
07-03-2012, 03:32 PM
I'm allergic to Jatoba and Silk Oak/Lace wood. I learned recently about the lace wood sad thing is that I break out just like i do from poison ivy, takes about a week for the rash to set in... not a fun 2 weeks for me.

This sounds very much like what i've experienced recently, though not with those particular woods.

southcoastukes
07-03-2012, 06:35 PM
I get a poison ivy like reaction from Bolivian rosewood, but never had any problems with cocobolo.
Brad

Just goes to show you, everybody's allergic to something. First time I ever heard of a Bolivian Rosewood reaction.

Considering I'm very allergic to poison ivy, I'm lucky in that no wood seems to have affected me personally. Just the same, a fellow luthier is extremely allergic to cocobolo, something I've worked with often. It's fairly common, Jamie, and I'll bet that's your problem. Under a finish it would be o.k., but for some people, it would be poison on a fretboard. That's why we've never used it there.

I've also got a fellow who makes knobs for us. You should see what happens to him with Ziricote.

None of these bother me (keeping my fingers crossed).

Lay off the bluegrass for awhile and see what happens.

JamieFromOntario
07-03-2012, 11:27 PM
Just goes to show you, everybody's allergic to something. First time I ever heard of a Bolivian Rosewood reaction.

Considering I'm very allergic to poison ivy, I'm lucky in that no wood seems to have affected me personally. Just the same, a fellow luthier is extremely allergic to cocobolo, something I've worked with often. It's fairly common, Jamie, and I'll bet that's your problem. Under a finish it would be o.k., but for some people, it would be poison on a fretboard. That's why we've never used it there.

I've also got a fellow who makes knobs for us. You should see what happens to him with Ziricote.

None of these bother me (keeping my fingers crossed).

Lay off the bluegrass for awhile and see what happens.


Dirk, you are the one to blame for my predicament. ;)

Well, actually, it's those awesome Southcoast heavy strings that are on my BlueGrass that keep drawing back to playing that particular uke. I guess I'm just going to have to put my last set of heavies on my MP!



Thanks everyone for the feedback on this issue. It's good to know that I'm not the only one. I'm going to lay off the cocobolo fret board for a few weeks and see what happens.