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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rory's Tip Of The Week-Avoiding Fire In the Workshop

When I was about 12 or 13 years old, one of my favorite antique shops to visit was on the outskirts of a tiny Missouri town.  It was in a huge old wooden barn on the owners property.  The mammoth roofing beams of the barn were made of solid walnut.  The barn siding was attached with square nails.  Inside that barn were some of the best american oak pieces I have ever seen, to this day.  Round oak tables with carved lion heads and claw feet, curved glass china cabinets with serpentine fronts, huge roll top desks, and set after set of carved chairs were all common staple items there.  In those days, turn-of-the-century oak was a hot commodity (pardon the pun) and inside this old barn was some of the best in the country...........And then one summer day, it all burned down. There was nothing left.  All was lost inside and out.  Once that old wooden barn caught fire there was no stopping it.  And like a lot of fires it was due to one careless mistake by the owner that could have easily been prevented, if he just would have followed this one piece of advice I am going to give you. 
The cause of the fire was determined to be from the spontaneous combustion of some paper towels, that were soaked with old paint remover.  The owner had been out in the barn stripping a piece of furniture on a cool summer morning.  As he was wiping off the remover with the paper towels, he simply tossed them on the floor, so he could throw them away later, all at once.  Stripping furniture was not new to him.  He had had done this hundreds of times.  He had a system and it worked fine for him until that one particular day.  When he was almost done with the stripping he became sidetracked and left the paper towels where he had thrown them.  Later on in the day the weather warmed up.  By the afternoon it was hot outside.  The direction of the the light from the sun changed and it started to shine inside the barn window.  It is believed that at some point the sun managed to shine through the barn window and into a large mirror not far from the pile of paper towels.  That is all it took.  It was over in a single afternoon.

So here is my simple tip of the week, to keep this from happening in your workshop.  Do like I do.  Keep a metal bucket handy, about half full of water.  As you discard old paper towels and rags, throw them in the bucket of water, and let them soak until they are ready for your trash pickup.  Also, be especially careful with old steel wool.  Steel wool is what they sometimes teach boyscouts to make campfires with.  When  steel wool is contaminated with something like mineral spirits or paint thinner it makes an easily ignitible combination.  So, also throw your old used steel wool in the bucket when you are done with it too.


Periodically I will take a stick and push all the flammables down into the water to make sure they all are completely soaked with water.  Follow this procedure any time you are using products such as stains, shellac, laquer, polyurethane, paint strippers, linseed oil, mineral spirits and thinners, or anything else that is a potential fire hazard. We are seeing the first signs of warm weather right now, so this tip becomes even more important in the upcoming months.  Be safe! Rory

Note: In the future I will be putting various condensed tips on the sidebar that may be of help to you as well as writing occasional full posts like this one.  I am here to help you.  Feel free to comment or send me questions. Keep up the good work.  Rory

16 comments:

Cat Nap Inn Primitives said...

great tip...thanks for the compliment on my little water jug with flowers..I love it too..makes me smile..its on the front porch now...gotta go and get more flowers..:) have a good one.:)

Tarrah at The Pottery Shed said...

Hi Rory! Thanks for the birthday wishes...nice to 'meet you'! :) Hey, you have some great tips....I never even think about my stain rags, and my paint thinner rags....I threw mine out in the garage after doing my projects on Tuesday...you have made me much more aware of the danger in doing that. Thanks again!

Tracey said...

Excellent reminder! I bet that guy was heartsick.

Tracey

Rory-The Greentiques Solution Guy said...

A little bit of history was lost the day that old barn burned down. You just can't replace those kinds of losses. The owners insurance eventually paid to have new barn built. It was a shiny new metal one. That was over 35 years ago. Thank you for your comments. I appreciate all of them. As always this month, your comments have entered all of you in my March Giveaway.
Rory

gail@myrepurposedlife.blogspot.com said...

thanks for commenting on my candlestick birdbath. It was very nice of you.
I will remember this tip! thank you!
gail

Rory-The Greentiques Solution Guy said...

Hi Gail, Your welcome. The bird bath was really cute. Rory

Donatella said...

thanks for the tips on my pic.. and thank you for adding me to your blog roll.. will do the same for you..

Rory-The Greentiques Solution Guy said...

Donatella,
You are very welcome. You have a terrific blog. Please let me know if I can do anything else for you and thank you for adding me as well.
Rory

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DustyLu said...

I was sent over to see your great blog..from my sister donnatella..I will def share you! ~lulu

Rory-The Greentiques Solution Guy said...

Thank you DustyLu. You and your sister have terrific blogs. You 2 are great! Thank you! Rory

all thingz related said...

What a great tip! I just don't think about those kind of things! And I sure didn't know that about steel wool! Thanks for this!
~Rebekah

Rory-The Greentiques Solution Guy said...

Rebekah, You are very welcome. I am here to help people like yourself. It is amazing how quickly steel wool can start to smolder. Backpackers often carry a little bit of it so they can start campfires with a couple of sparks from a piece of flint and a few pine dried leaves or pine needles. Just imagine what would happen if you added a little paint thinner and some direct sunlight to the equation. Glad you liked the post. Check back for other tips from time to time. More are on the way. Rory