Safety

Christmas list for the shop:

  • Additional dust collector for the basement shop
  • Lee Valley Panel Gauge
  • new respirator cartridge replacements
  • new hearing protector “earmuffs.”
  • new safety glasses

Only one of these falls into the strict category of “tools,” the panel gauge. Most woodworkers wood refer to others as a sort of accessory product. Not something you’d use for making a wooden product for your store, your next show, or to decorate a commission.

Many woodworkers would consider some of the things on my list to be hindrances in the shop. For example, the little Rikon dust collector rolls around and is a tripping hazard. It can be hung on the wall, but then the panel saws that belonged to your father would have no place to hang. Also, the damn respirator gets in my way when I do close-up work, and the hearing protectors get in the way of the respirator fit. Finally, when you add the safety glasses, I look like something from a 1959 Sci-Fi movie.

Most of the woodworkers I know are odd combinations of very reticent to adopt new things and over-eager to embrace and spend on new gadgets. The gadgets promise to make your life in the shop easier. One is seen as getting in the way, and the other as the key to woodworking paradise.

It all works out until your hearing becomes impaired or you begin wheezing.

There is one dust extractor in the basement shop, two air scrubbers for tiny particles, and a shop vac. The carving shop has an air scrubber as well as a shop vac. In the carving shop, I produce less dust but more chips. Both shops have respirators, glasses, dust masks, and hearing protection. I make every effort to make sure that I use them.

Overkill? I don’t think so. Look, I have intermittent mild asthma. I am very interested in making sure that it does not get worse.  

Being breathless is something I can do without. Hearing? I love the sounds of the birds outside my shop. I’m not interested in losing what I’ve got. My sight? Try being a woodworker without vision – I’m already mildly impaired and have no desire to lose what I have.

I once worked at a job site where the motto was that safety was a habit we all need to form. So we learn to work around the nuisances if we want to continue creating. Safety equipment used to make made rare appearances in tool catalogs and online. Not so now. Take a hint from the companies you buy the toys from and make shop safety a habit.

I’ll tell you all about the Lee Valley panel gauge in a later post. It’s sure to make life in my shop easier and more pleasurable. Toys, you can’t live without them!

Selkie

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