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Fractal burning

Discussion in 'Woodturning Health & Safety' started by John Torchick, Feb 9, 2018.

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  1. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    My wife was watching a show on HGTV, her home-away-from-home. The show is Flea Market Flip, aired today at 9 AM. They had a segment that was demonstrated on the show. She said it was frackle; misunderstanding of the word, fractal. She described it as this- wood table top painted with a solution of baking soda and water. The electrical leads were attached at opposite ends and the current followed the path of least resistance. I watched as the dark lines flowed from one end to the other. I explained the position of the AAW on this dangerous practice. Just for the information for the AAW forum. Good and safe turning!
     
  2. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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  3. Fadi Zeidan

    Fadi Zeidan

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  4. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    Perfect!!!!
     
  5. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Not necessarily "beating the dead horse," but hoping that someone who isn't aware of the dangers would not try this. I can hear it now, "That is neat. I'll try that." Note that this was on a cable network. I developed an allergy to high voltage/amperage/wattage while working in R&D for two appliance manufacturers.
     
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  6. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    electricity and I have a mutual respect that means we do not screw with each other.
     
  7. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    I still find it hard to believe how many people will stand at a lathe with a 10-20 pound billet of wood
    spinning at a high rate of speed capable of coming loose from the chuck and taking you out in a
    fraction of a second. This happens quite often with various outcomes for the people involved with
    the incidents. Most people get lucky with minor injuries, while others have suffered greatly. No matter
    what you do in wood working there is always a level of risk involved, we all need to be aware of these risks
    and take proper precautions no matter what the activity is. We are all novices at everything we do until
    we gain the knowledge, training and practical experience in each activity we pursue in life.
     
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  8. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    I still find it hard to believe people ride motorcycles.
     
  9. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I decided to move the thread to the Health and Safety forum.

    I'm sure that there are some who have the expertise and experience to do this and recognize unsafe conditions that others wouldn't see. While teaching the mechanics of the process is rather simple, the part that concerns me is that safety is a much more involved subject that isn't fully appreciated in fractal burning and can't be learned adequately in a few short lessons. Based on the one live demo and a few YouTube videosthat I've seen, it's surprising that there are as few fatalities as there have been.
     
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  10. Doug Rasmussen

    Doug Rasmussen

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    Maybe it'd be a good idea to explain exactly why the process is so dangerous. I think I understand the dangers, but not so sure others do.
     
  11. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    Many of the improvised power supplies used to do the fractal burning have a dangerous level
    of amperage available at the electrodes, the transformers scavenged from microwaves have a
    lethal level of ampacity with a lack of ground fault circuit interruption to provide personal protection
    if the operator comes in contact with the fractal burning electrode probes. The power systems used
    for fractal burning employ a high voltage which travels on the exterior of a surface, this can quickly
    cause electrical shock if the operator does not use "high voltage" insulated materials rated for the
    voltage to protect themselves from the high voltage and deadly current. A wet surface can increase
    the hazards involved with this process since it provides a conductive path for the high voltage. You
    really need to understand the hazards of high voltage and electrical current before you even try to
    attempt this process. One mistake and it can be your last mistake with this process. Type "high voltage
    injuries" into YouTube and you will quickly see what kind of damage this can cause.
     
  12. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I can mention some safety concerns that I have and thanks, Mike, for posting some of the hazards related to dealing with high voltages.

    The voltages used for fractal burning generally are 12,000 volts and higher and the source impedance is low so that the transformer is capable of putting out a considerable amount of current ... far in excess of enough to be lethal. A person is able to feel a current as low as 1 milliampere and 5 milliamperes can be painful. A current of 30 milliamperes is sufficient to cause respiratory paralysis, 70 to 100 milliamperes can cause ventricular fibrillation, and above 200 milliamperes severe muscular contraction clamps the heart and prevents it from beating.

    All insulators have a breakdown voltage where they cease being insulators and instead become conductors. As you mentioned, ordinary insulation doesn't hack it when dealing with these high voltages. I've seen ordinary PVC pipe used as insulating handles. That type of PVC really isn't a good insulating material because it can become contaminated and especially if wetted will allow currents sufficient to be hazardous. That type PVC also degrades over time when exposed to the environment causing embrittlement, microcracking, and breaking down of the long polymer chains into micro plastics that can absorb organic materials around them.

    When you're wetting the surface of the wood, you're also wetting everything else to some extent. The dielectric strength of the wiring and other insulating material may be be significantly compromised if moisture gets on it. If you are using rubber gloves that are designed for handling chemicals or anything other than high voltages of the level being dealt with then they may not be offering sufficient protection. Another concern would be whether the gloves are rated for the voltage in a wet environment. Also, gloves designed for high voltages have a useable safe life.
     
  13. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Would you like to share what you know?
     
  14. Tom Albrecht

    Tom Albrecht

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    Not putting myself at risk anymore... and nothing bad ever happened to me from it.

    This is not a promotion for the Fractal Burning methods. I will say that I used to use it on occasion, with phenolic insulators, an insulated work surface, and insulated gloves. I used a real transformer, not a repurposed microwave unit. Even though I used safe methods including a second person to observe, and one hand tied behind my back, I won't use it anymore.

    The last piece I made was for my Electrophysiologist, kind of a cardiologist, but not. On four occasions over the past eight years he has done an ablation procedure on me. That is when he sent some electrified leads, via catheters, into my heart chambers in order to create some scar tissue so that my own sinus node would stop short circuiting and causing unruly tachycardia symptoms. I have lost count of the number of times that I've had to go the ER to get cardioverted (shocked with the paddles) to bring my heart back to normal sinus rhythm.

    No Bill, I will not attempt to post a photo here. However, prior to the last ablation, which was planned a month in advance, I made this really great looking hollow vase from spalted white oak that was almost heart shaped. I asked my wife to give it to the Doc after he came out to tell her that I was okay. I was okay, but only after he found that he needed to add a pacemaker to my circuit-- a surprise to all of us, including the Doc. He loved his Fractalized vessel. But I was also told not to do it anymore because apparently pacemakers and high voltage like that from Arc welders and Fractal burners do not get along. Fortunately, I am not a welder by trade, and I can get along quite well without Fractal burning anymore.
     
  15. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    my sense of it, is that there are a great many precautions for those who know what they are doing to follow. Those who don't know are just playing Russian roulette. The same with folks who try to build their own firearms, automobiles, airplanes. (A local airport seems to foster such things and the crash rate of folks who can't wait for a real flight inspection is pretty high.) steam engines, etc. Had a neighbor build a solar heating system with mirrors and an old water heater tank. He had steam explosions from the first three. efforts. Burned in one. My hobby artillery group hears of an exploding cannon at least three times a year. (we have pretty strict guide lines for construction with big safety margins). Hey bubba, hold my beer and watch this, is not a good start to anything. The number of folks who do not realize the danger of what they are doing is just amazing. One fellow in Indiana was "cleaning" his muzzle loader and looked down the barrel as he held a match up to the breech to see why there was an obstruction. he never cleared the last load. He won't do that ever, ever again.
     
  16. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I know about ablations and pacemakers. They kept my dad going for many years. It had slipped my mind that p the process of fractal burning does create a lot of EMI (electromagnetic interference) that could disrupt normal operation of a pacemaker/defibrillator.
     
  17. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Dangerous? I doubt if the TV show offered a disclaimer when this process was in operation.
    "Honey, could you come down to the shop for a minute and hold these wires for me." o_O
     
  18. Ronald D. Black

    Ronald D. Black

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    When I see people with the attitude that something is not dangerous I am reminded of those people who drive 4-wheel drive vehicles and then ignore caution during a snow (with icy roads) and drive faster than common sense dictates, usually because they think they know better than the experts. All is well, till they spin out an cause an accident! The same applies here, until it happens to that individual, and they are killed or their house/garage burns down. Better to use common sense than the alternative. That is my story and I am sticking to it.
    Ron
     
  19. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    Yes and then there are the folks with fair weather vehicles who adhere to the warnings and drive 10 miles an hour everywhere. Then when they need to climb a hill they get stuck because they have no momentum. Driving in the snow is a skill, sometimes requiring special tools and know how. Too many simply don't know how. Experienced several snow storm driving in and around Washington DC, where 50 % of all people have never driven in the snow. Funniest thing I ever saw was a guy in a corvette with FL tags trying to drive up a hill He kept fishtailing to a stop and eventually could make no further progress holding up a long line pf traffic. There was a Metro bus immediately behind me and the guy got out and asked the bur passengers for a push. They pushed alright. as soon as he started spinning the wheels, they pushed him side ways into a ditch. We then proceeded on our merry way. (At the time, I had a 1979 Datsun 210 with snow tires and chains. That little bugger could go through anything up to about 12 inches. ) .
     
  20. stu senator

    stu senator

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    Look up the Darwin Awards.

    Lots of examples.

    Stu
     
  21. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    For a moment I had a flashback of sitting in the customer lounge at Jiffy Lube reading the letters to the editor in Road & Track while my truck was being inspected. I wonder if R&T ever publishes any letters about fractal burning of wood bowls. That's an interesting story, but it sounds like a pretty rough crowd and, hopefully, they aren't representative of most people in your part of the country.
     
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