Cabinet Makers

Cabinet makers work in a variety of industrial, commercial, and residential settings with many different crafting materials. Throughout the 20th century, asbestos was used in nearly every cabinet component and construction process. Cabinet makers were often exposed to asbestos dust during cabinet building and installation.

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Cabinet Makers and Asbestos Exposure

No matter where a cabinet maker works, it’s sure to be dusty. Cabinet making involves numerous processes to shape and finish wood as well as other porous materials. As cabinet components are cut, sawn, sanded, and finished, the process creates clouds of fine dust particles.

Dust is a natural part of the cabinet-making process and nearly impossible to avoid. Unfortunately, this dust used to contain asbestos.

During the 20th century, many materials in the cabinet making industry were asbestos-based. Asbestos was also commonly used in several other construction products, which exposed everyone nearby — including cabinet makers — to dangerous airborne asbestos fibers.

How Cabinet Makers Were Exposed to Asbestos

While cabinet makers were often exposed to asbestos in their own products, they also encountered asbestos in their work environment. Many cabinet makers completed their work directly on construction job sites rather than in a factory or shop setting.

Cabinet makers often inhaled asbestos dust from common construction materials, such as:

While new construction sites posed a serious risk of asbestos exposure to cabinet makers, demolition, and renovation sites could be equally hazardous.

Even today, cabinet makers work on renovations in older houses and commercial buildings that contain asbestos in their cabinets and other construction materials. Tearing apart old work releases dormant asbestos fibers into the air.

Asbestos fibers are microscopic and invisible. Cabinet workers could put their family at risk of exposure by returning home wearing dusty work clothes contaminated with asbestos fibers. When disturbed, these fibers would float through the air, where they could be ingested or inhaled by family members.

Asbestos Products Used in Cabinet Making

Asbestos became popular in the cabinet making industry back in the 1920s and was a prominent material used in cabinets until the 1980s.

This resulted in a 60-year period during which multiple generations of cabinet builders and installers were regularly exposed to asbestos-containing products.

Several common products used in cabinet making contained asbestos, including:

  • Paper linings in cabinet interiors
  • Veneers on cabinet exteriors
  • Adhesives and glues
  • Particleboard
  • Paints and finishes
  • Custom countertops

Cabinet Maker Careers

Cabinet makers are skilled craftspeople who build fine woodworking pieces. Their most well-known work involves constructing kitchen and bathroom cabinets or creating built-in storage units in laundry areas.

However, professional cabinet makers historically worked on a broad spectrum of industrial, commercial, and residential manufacturing and installation sites.

Cabinet making is a complicated and precise profession. It takes years to build proficiency in the creation of fine joinery and finishes. Many cabinet makers dedicate their careers to improving their skills and experimenting with new materials.

Professional cabinet makers work on many different job sites and facilities, such as:

  • Commercial cabinet making factories that mass-produce units
  • Specialty shops that build custom cabinets and furniture
  • Manufacturing facilities that create cabinet accessories like doors, drawers, and countertops
  • Installation locations in commercial and residential buildings
  • Renovation sites where old cabinets are removed and replaced

Cabinet Maker Health Risks

Cabinet makers who were exposed to asbestos dust are at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos can cause a variety of health problems, whether the fibers are inhaled into the lungs or ingested into the digestive system.

When inhaled, asbestos fibers become lodged in the lung lining, called the pleura. These tiny fibers are impossible to expel and can sit dormant for decades before triggering the development of cancerous mesothelioma tumors.

Mesothelioma is a serious health threat to all cabinet makers who were exposed to asbestos. This rare type of cancer has no cure, and typically not diagnosed until it has spread throughout the body.

Some types of asbestos fibers are more dangerous than others. Chrysotile, or white asbestos, was commonly used in many building products. While still risky, chrysotile is not nearly as dangerous as the amphibole asbestos group.

Unfortunately for the cabinet making profession, hazardous amphibole asbestos was the main ingredient in cabinet making papers and adhesives.

Dust from cutting, sawing, or sanding products containing amphibole asbestos released the deadly fibers into the air where unsuspecting cabinet makers could inhale them. Most did not wear masks or respirators.

Help for Mesothelioma Victims

If you’re one of the unfortunate cabinet makers or other craftspeople who developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, you may be entitled to compensation. This compensation may help cover your medical expenses and lost income or provide personal injury payments to you and your family.

Families who lost a loved one to asbestos exposure may be eligible for compensation as well. You may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against negligent asbestos material manufacturers and distributors.

Our Justice Support Team can tell you more about legal and medical assistance for those with mesothelioma. See the ways we can help you.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: August 28, 2019

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