Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hidden dangers

Everyone knows that a woodshop is not the safest of work environments. Every woodworker knows that every tool has the potential to be an elaborate limb/digit remover. Even if you aren't a woodworker, you can tell that the big, loud, spinning blades are something to be wary of.

And while we have had a number of of those types of accidents at the shop, there are all those other "hidden" dangers of a woodshop.

Handtools can be just as sharp, and can just as easily become dangerous if you aren't paying attention. You probably won't loose a finger from a handplane or chisel, you can do a fair amount of damage if you aren't careful.

Then there is the wood itself. It's dense, and heavy, and requires paying attention to how you go about lifting it. Or paying attention to where your feet are when the corner of a dining table slips off the clamps.

In its un-milled form, you can pick up quite a number of splinters if you aren't careful. And then there are the edges. When we work with wood, we are trying our best to get the exact size that we want, as well as perfect 90 degree corners on everything. That means that every edge and corner are a crips 90 degrees, and can give you the larger version of a papercut.

Fortunately for me, my accidents come on the tamer side of the spectrum. I'm pretty focused and aware of the 'spinning blades of death' around me, and even of the handtools while I'm using them. Its all the little things that get me. Like droping the corner of a dining table on the top of my foot, or the elaborate papercut. I'll nick myself with a chisel when I'm just holding it, and not trying to cut anything. The one that always hurts the most though, is when I kick a pipeclamp that I'm only half aware of being there. And while my shin hurts for a while, the pain comes mostly from being a spaz, and knowing that I could have avoided it if I just look where I'm going.

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