Monday, April 30, 2012

Safety Week is here again!

Although I've not participated in safety week in the past years, I've found all of the various blog posts to be good reminders that disaster can be only a stroke of the chisel away. Thanks to Marc at The Wood Whisperer for starting this annual event in an attempt to keep us safe!

Well, this year I have a tip of my own. Okay, 3 tips as one mistake led to another requiring a third.

Tip 1: Realize when you've done enough for one day

You've put in a long day or week in the shop. Does this look familiar?
If so, I recommend that you don't take that "one more cut" or "just finish this one job". Put down the tools, they eye protection and at least go take a breather. A quick walk outside, get a drink or go kiss your spouse. Whatever you choose, it will give you a chance to clear your head and return to your project or maybe realize that you are indeed too tired to carry on.

Tip 2: Your hands are not vises!

Do you have that strong man grip and are able to crush your opponent's hand in a handshake? Well, they're still not strong enough to take the place of the vise on your bench! The wood on your bench can take the impact of a chisel if it slips when paring. Your flesh will part quite readily to a sharp blade!

Tip 3: Keep a first aid kit in the shop!

From burns, to cuts, to scrapes to the unthinkable major incident. A first aid kit in the shop will


My story

Yes, I ignored both of these tips in one day. I had just finished turning a tapered cylinder for a client and had popped it off the lathe. All that was left was to pare the nib off (which was about a 1/4" diameter). I had put in a long day in the shop working on a bench and just needed to get this cylinder done as the client was picking it up in the morning. So I picked up a chisel and started paring it with the cylinder in my left hand.

At first I had choked up on the shank of the chisel so that it wouldn't go anywhere, but within a few seconds I had loosened that choke hold to hold the handle and instantly it slipped, driving right off the edge of the cylinder and into my left pointer finger at the second knuckle. A clean plunge into the bone and straight back out I pulled it. Of course it immediately started flowing crimson. Thank goodness for first aid kits!

No loss of use or disfigurement, but I should have gone to the hospital as I had unknowingly at the time severed or partially severed a nerve and the outside edge of my finger between the second and third knuckle now have no feeling. I also can no longer curl my finger all the way into my palm. There's about a 3/8" gap when I try.

So, keep your head in the game and know the signs for when it's time to hang up the apron and safety glasses for the day!

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