Safety In The Workshop


I am a sculptor and a full time ceramic artist for the past 50 years, and have my scars to prove it. my Doctor friend is always warning me that the more experience the craftsman, the more likely he or she is to make mistakes.

This article was prompted by two recent incidents, a personal experience and a discussion this morning with a skilled and experienced carpenter.

Tools and equipment in this modern day has become more powerful, efficient, time saving and dangerous. Gone are the days of the mallet and chisel for the wood carver; There are now many powerful electric tools on the market and they are getting better and more dangerous.

My most recent experience was with a carving tool powered by a high speed angle grinder, which slid off the wood and nicked the top of my big thumb; the accident could have been worse, but the treatment from my wife was enough to avoid a visit to a doctor or hospital.

Don’t work with dangerous tools when you are tired.

I was working every day for 6 hours a day without a break, on this day I was felling tired and did remark to the wife that I was feeling tired and should take a day off; But I did not listen to my body and went into the studio and was carving with a dangerous high-speed tool which nicked the thumb after two earlier warnings, two slight nicks on the leg.

On a previous occasion; I had just returned to working in the studio after a stroke, My doctor warned me about using my tools so early in recovery; but I did go back to work, and would normally stop when my right hand got tired and weak. On one particular day I ignored the signs until the spinning grinder fell out of my tired and weak hand and caused 11 stitches on the inside of my leg, missing you know what by two inches.

The moral of the story is, do not use dangerous electrical tools when you are feeling tired.,

My friend was driving me to a building site when I noticed the top of his left thumb was missing. Incidentally it was my left thumb also that was nicked.

His story is he was working on a roof sawing wood with an electrical circular saw, when he heard an unusual revving noise, then felt a slight nick and heard the screaming of his fellow workmen before he collapsed. Someone had to disconnect the saw from the electrical power as the saw was still spinning.

The confession then followed, he was out drinking the night before and his fellow workmen warned him about working on the roof with such a dangerous piece of equipment.

I then related a story of a friend I had to rush to the hospital, when the nearly cut his wrist when using the band say while under the influence of alcohol.

Do not use dangerous tools when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Loose clothing

Over 20 years I was using a high speed angle grinder while wearing a shirt, which was hanging outside of my trousers; The spinning grinder got caught in my shirt and continued spinning. I had to try to stop the spinning by holding the grinder close to my stomach while there was still cloth for protection; Unfortunately I t was a grinder with an off and on switch and my assistant had to rush and disconnect the grinder from the electrical power,

The scar is still there today, luckily I did not require stitches or medical attention.

Do not wear loose clothing when using high speed electrical tools

For More protection, wear ear muffs for noise, goggles for dust and eye protection; gloves if possible and any up to date protection devices or apparel available.

Finally, do not encourage uninvited or invited guests to your work space when using dangerous tools, lock your door if possible. Nothing worse than a surprise visitor when you are using a band saw or circular saw.

Practice safety and exercise caution in the work space. Use safety guards as much as possible; I know from experience they can sometimes interfere with the creative process.

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