1. A health and safety agency in the UK advises of the dangers of handling MDF. But it also states “However, the levels of free formaldehyde in boards made within the EU at levels of formaldehyde class E1 are thought to be insignificant. This is because at these levels the resin is fully reacted (polymerised).”

      Toward the bottom of their notice, they advise that respiratory protective equipment be the last line of defense. …after other dust collection measures…

      Hand tool working is our first line of defense. We’re not using spinning machines to throw the dust around. The preponderance drops harmlessly to the floor. If one were to work with MDF frequently and for long periods, and with power tools, then maybe a mask would be useful. But for a couple of cuts by hand tools, the risk looks minimal.

      This is why I love hand toll working. There’s no need to get dressed up in masks, goggles and ear-muffs to enjoy woodworking.

      1. Thanks, Bob. Without wishing to sound like a nag, my understanding was that it was the actual size of the particles that were the danger, not so much what they were made of. Tiny dust particles can get inside your lungs and become absorbed by the tissues in the lungs. It’s the accumulation of foreign bodies over time in the cells of your lungs that cause the problems later in life.

        1. Hi Patrick,
          Good question. Bob has it spot on, in that the main benefit with hand tools is that the actions of working aren’t swirling the particles up into the air in the same way as machines do. Therefore there isn’t the same risk of breathing them in. If you were doing more significant work with MDF with hand tools, I think a dust mask would be a good idea.
          Best, Phil

  1. “It’s not what you make, it’s how you make it.” I love the way that Paul shows as much care and attention to ‘A stick with a piece of leather stuck to it’ as he does with all the other projects. I’ll definitely be making a few of these as Christmas presents.

    1. I´m also interested in these 2 subjects. Furthermore I´m a complete novice to the needle job. I would appreciate a short “how to” or a hint on further information very much. Thank you.

    2. I found waxed linen thread at a shoe repair shop, same stuff they use for other leather goods like shoes and handbags, so a craft store or repair place would be good placed to start. A saddlery would also have it probably.

      You’d want a proper leather needle. They tend to be thicker and more blunt/rounded than fabric sewing needles.

      The punch is also a special leather tool. They can be very expensive for a high quality one, but a local craft shop had some cheaper ones for $20-30.

      1. Leather needles are in most supermarkets nowadays, but if you’re stuck finding one, have a look in the sewing machine compartment. Assorted packs of machine-needles often include one or two for leather.

      2. You could also consider using waxed polyester sail twine. It is also used for whipping rope and often comes with a heavy needle. Usually easy to find in marine supply stores. Using a Sailor’s Palm and a good sail needle you may not need an awl.

    1. Whenever I’ve stuck leather, I used Leather Glue. It worked quite well. Evo-Stick does the job too. Or you can use Pearl Glue, Hide Glue…
      It’s not ‘Reinforcing Fabric’, it’s fabric that reinforces. ANY fabric that will reinforce the structure. Cut an off-cut from an article from the Charity Store (after you’ve bought it).

  2. I made one of these using ash and walnut. The handle came out quite nice. The leather one the other hand, was a bit on the heavy side. I used two pieces of leather just under 2mm each. The stiffness of it is perfect, but it is so heavy I can punch through walls with it.

  3. To those asking about the fabric: any sewing store will have something called “interfacing” which is either sew-in or iron-on. Both will work with leather. It comes in different weights – heavyweight will do handbags, curtain pelmets, and so forth. Medium weight for collars and to reinforce the lapels of jackets. Lightweight for pocket and button-band reinforcements in sheer fabrics. Obviously you only need a bit, so if you are uncertain, buy the smallest quantity you can (1/8 yard or 20cm) and then make a temporary sandwich of two pieces of leather plus interfacing and see how you like it. I can’t advise on a weight because it depends on the weight of your leather; a soft clothing leather might want a heavier interfacing; a medium leather might want a lightweight interfacing and so on. If you haven’t got interfacing (and TBH you don’t really need it) , you can experiment with ordinary fabric – jeans for example are usually comparable to heavyweight interfacing, cotton shirting to medium weight. Avoid fabrics with stretch like t-shirt fabric (a knit construction) or fabrics with lycra or spandex like stretch jeans. Cotton and poly cotton are ok.

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