Yew Have Got To Be Kidding Me...!

Stuart Ablett

Tokyo Japan
Yesterday after a busy day of running around town doing stuff and meeting clients about upcoming work, I went to the workshop to clear the decks for some projects.
I needed to get my bandsaw up and running, the bottom wheel's neoprene tire had come off, the top one came off awhile ago. I ordered new tires but because of the current situation in the world they are taking their sweet time getting here.

I bought a 12" bicycle tire inner tube and cut a strip out of it and stretched it on the wheel.
I know these will not last very long, but I think they will last until the neoprene tires show up.
First order of business was to cut round the turning blanks I got from my buddy Kyle. One chestnut, one Japanese white birch and three Japanese Yew.

Using my circle cutting jig it all went fairly quickly and well.

With a nice pile of scrap to throw out
That was all done about 8 PM.

I did not hook up my DC to the bandsaw, as the bin needs emptying and I hate overfilling it clogging up the filters, and j did not wear a mask or my respirator because, well,
I'm dumb.

About 9PM I noticed a rash on my arm, I washed my arms and hands with soap and water, then around midnight could feeling face puffing up and I just felt bad.
I had some Olopatadine Hydrochloride on hand an antihistamine, I took one of those around 2 AM as I was getting worse.
At 3 AM j went to the hospital as now I was feeling like I was going toss my cookies, I was dizzy and I had heart palpitations!

The Japanese hospital was the typical Cluster Fiascos, we show up at the Emergency room at 3:30 AM I'm not feeling good, I'm having trouble walking and... first we have to leave the building, stand outside in the rain and call a number on our cell phone to get the OK to go to the emergency room. Then once approved we had to wait outside of the hospital in the rain for the hospital to call us back and tell us its safe to come into the hospital.
This was late Saturday night, early Sunday morning in downtown Tokyo, I thought that there might be a few other people waiting to see a doctor, nope just us.

Well it turns out that even the dust from the Yew wood can be dangerous.

A few weeks ago I spent most of a day slabbing up the Yew wood but it did not seem to bother me. Maybe because I was outside, and the wood was still very green there was little airborne dust, now the wood has dried out a lot, I can tell the blanks were a lot lighter, and the bandsaw makes finer dust and I was in a confined space.

Let me say this is in no way, shape or form Kyle's fault.

Thus is purely my bad practices, and my ignorance of the nature of this wood.

I got some drugs administered via an IV and around 5AM they decided to send me home.
I slept for 14 hours and while I'm feeling better, I still feeling pretty rotten.
Tomorrow I'll find my respirator and do a super clean of the whole workshop and bin those Yew wood blanks.

Not how I expected to spend my weekend.

I guess from now on when I encounter a new wood I'll look it up, I mean who knew?

I certainly did not.

Mike Stafford

Coastal plain of North Carolina
I turned some yew a few years ago. I did not notice any ill effects until hours later when I developed redness and irritation in the webbing between my fingers. I guess that the sanding dust was the source of the irritation.

It has long been my practice to never work with a new timber when I am at home alone. If it turns out that you are allergic to the wood being alone could be a real problem particularly if your breathing is compromised.

Dave Hoskins

Parker County, Texas
Interesting and glad you're alright now. I am lucky in some regards on allergies. Either I have alligator hide ( been accused of that many times) or I just have a good immune system. I can literally roll around in some good green sappy poison ivy, oak or sumac with no reaction at all. Nada. Dunno why. Always been that way best I can remember. Never had any of that yew wood so I can't say if it would get me or not. Main thing is you are better.