Thanks for the help with navigating the forum. I’ll get it all eventually. I was thinking of writing a bit about stuff that might be of interest to carvers like what it might have been like for a prehistoric carver to create a bison representation on a piece of bone whose shape reminded them of that animal. Maybe talk/converse with people about processes and techniques and have conversations that sometimes occur at shows and such. I think artists are often isolated by the individuality of their craft and unless you know of a community of carvers somewhere, forums like The Carving Path seem like the ‘place’ where those conversations can happen. Since our craft involves the smaller end of the carving spectrum, we find that we have more in common with jewelers (and most especially use many of the same tools) than we do with large scale wood carvers and sculptors like say those that carve totem poles or use chainsaws and the like. Jewelers have plenty of forums as do wood workers and even sculptors. If you try putting in Netsuke online, you get sites geared more towards collectors and enthusiasts but little or nothing about the making of Netsuke or the various types of tools used to sculpt them nor of the techniques and processes involved in their use.
Speaking of tools... did somebody mention tools? Hmn? Lol! Just in case anyone is interested, I found an inexpensive way to solve much of the sanding and rotary tool dust problem or at least mitigate it significantly. Being big on air purifiers (”true HEPA" filters are the only filters that actually work) for health reasons and determined therefore to minimize my exposure to sanding and grinding dust, I merrily went online and researched (read: looks at things that he can’t afford) solutions. Naturally finding none that were in that special ‘Goldilocks Zone’ - the ideal balance of low cost and high efficiency, I decided to make my own. I have already made several high efficiency air purifiers (for rooms) using "true HEPA" filters and have even bought the rare purifier that actually does lie in that Goldilocks Zone (I don’t know which is rarer to find - a planet that lies in the Goldilocks Zone of habitability that allows free flowing water to exist on the surface (not too hot to boil off as steam and not too cold to freeze up as ice) - but safe to say that low cost high efficiency air purifiers with True HEPA filtration do exist. Anyone interested in getting one for their room or nursery etc. let me know. I don’t sell them but I do know which ones to buy.
However that doesn’t mean that a regular room purifier will work to adequately remove sanding or fine sawdust from a small localized area. Yes high cost systems can do that but they are mostly geared towards high volume sawdust in a wood working shop besides all the ones I found were really expensive and way too much overkill for the comparatively small amount of dust being created carving a Netsuke. A cheapo filter on a box fan set up are only just okay but at least better than nothing. The trick with them, of course, is to find a very powerful but small fan and unless you already have one then you might as well just modify an inexpensive room air filter. It gets clunky and big and noisy and blows everything around too much and...and... it’s more fun making one!
So while I searched online for a very powerful but cheap small fan, starting to consider positive and negative air pressures in a small container and such when lo and behold, I come across what is called a Nail Dust Collector. Think of a tolerably powerful small fan, an efficient reusable filter similar to (but not quite) a True HEPA filter and an adjustable hose like a small version of an air duct or clothes drier hose (about 3 inches in dia.) that you can bend into a curve to fit under your vise or next to your hands while you work to suck up any and all fine dust caused by using files, saws or a Dremel type rotary tool. Stone and glass power carvers take note.
No the thing is not perfect and yes the fan could always be a bit stronger but the darn thing actually works. You could also work by holding your carving directly over the filter directly. Think of a manicurist holding a client’s hand directly over the device (not using the optional hose) as she files the fingernails. When calculating the cost of buying a fan and a filter and constructing something to hold them together (to say nothing of getting a small length of hose - a hair dryer hose would work for that)… it was cheaper and far more convenient (less cumbersome and bulky) and adequately efficient (maybe even better than I could make myself without incurring greater costs) too! It is small (desktop sized) and relatively portable enough but moreover, the fan is designed for constant use in a professional setting for hours at a time without overheating. You take the filter out, tap it over a waste basket and voila, it is ready for more dust, over and over again. I intend to vacuum it frequently as well so as to render the filter more or less permanent.
The cost? I picked up one on Amazon for about $45 or $50 bucks. I am awaiting a piece of inexpensive silk screen material (the one with the biggest mesh openings that I could find - 40 mesh that cost me only $5 a yard by 50 inches) to cut to size for use as a reusable pre-filter to catch the big sawdust and wood scrapings leaving the nail dust collector’s filter to catch the very fine wood dust particulates.
Sure a thousand dollar dust collector would be better but then I could be rich, young and good looking too! For about $50 bucks I am smiling (okay fine... I’m chortling and making stupid snickering noises ...sheesh!) at having found something that I had wished I had for a long time so cheaply! Seriously (especially stone, glass, bone and toxic wood dust) fellow carvers ... the thing actually is darn useful for us.
Update Oct 18 - The nail dust collector works but needs a better filter so as to capture fine dust particulates. I’ve purchased a 210 micron stainless steel screen for use under the machine’s filter. The inexpensive silk screen fabric proved redundant to the regular filter. I am pursuing these experiments until I find the right balance of filter elements suitable for toxic wood dust that is cheaper to use than is a True HEPA filter.