Playing to a different tune


After years of manufacturing with exotic hardwoods and becoming sensitive to the dust they produce, a guitar maker from Newcastle upon Tyne was forced to reconsider his working environment. We spoke to Nigel Forster, who started as a luthier in 1988 and set up his own business in 2004, about working dust-free and how innovative technologies have been instrumental in altering the way he works.

 “I have to use exotic woods such as ebony, mahogany and rosewood to make the guitars and mandolins for my clients because if I do not use them it is hard to get the sound you’re working towards.  On top of that, my clients associate these timbers with the best quality work and this is what I am committed to offering them.  However, by using these woods I have ended up developing a sensitivity to the dust which is produced. I had been using dust masks and had bought an air filter to try and deal with the issue but the problem still persisted. Then I saw a Mirka sander in a friend’s workshop and he extolled the virtues of the product as he had been using it for a number of years. After that I purchased a Mirka CEROS and as soon as I started using it with Abranet abrasives I noticed a difference, not only in the amount of dust that was being produced, which was massively reduced, but also when I finished the job I did not feel that the dust was causing me any issues, so I didn’t then have to miss days off work to recover.   

The CEROS is lightweight so when I use it, it allows me to sand several instruments in a row without a problem, and when I have finished using it hand-arm fatigue is not really an issue. Additionally, the dust extraction facility I have chosen to use on the sander allows me to final sand the instrument without a mask.

The Abranet abrasives may cost more than standard sand papers but they are durable and do not clog when they are at the end of their life span. Also, in the long run, they’re far better value and the quality of finish they offer is very consistent, which is what I require for my work.

Now, I would not consider using anything but Mirka products for sanding. They offer me a high quality finish, which my clients have become accustomed to, and the dust-free benefits have dealt with the issues the dust was causing and have allowed me to continue my career.”