Shop safety is not something that you can hold in your hands…Shop safety is something that happens between your ears. ~mld
An interesting thing happens in a guy’s head when he’s engaged in a task that requires his manly-man brawn. There’s a problem that needs to be solved, a structure that must be erected, or maybe one more dead branch at the tippy-top of a tree that has to go. After all, we climbed this far, chainsaw in tow, why turn back now? And if a woman is present, our ears are filled with cautionary demands and almost convincing arguments that it looks ‘good enough’.
And not that we’d admit to it, but even in the absence of our beloved companion, there’s a little voice that expresses discomfort in our actions. But what must be done, must be done – right now. If successful, the pride we feel from our loins all the way up to our quickly beating heart made it all worth while.
Unfortunately, success is not always the conclusion of our testosterone-fueled journey. More often than we choose to remember (all be it, less often than she chooses to remember) we end up suffering either physically, egotistically, or both.
It was a warm July evening. I was a self-professed 19-year-old master carpenter. My mission: build a wine rack as a gift to my parents for their 27th anniversary. The project had been going together just as I had planned – because I’m good like that. It was, until it came time to cut the grooves in the horizontal boards that would cradle the bottles. My dad didn’t have a band saw and a jig-saw would be too sloppy. He did have a table saw and a dado-blade though. Perhaps you can see where this is headed…
It worked on the first couple of tries – pressing the edge of the board straight down onto the blade, carving a perfect circular bed into the wood. Nervous, I proceeded, growing more confident with each successfu-
It happened. Just like that. The blade grabbed the board, throwing it across the room – dragging my fingers through the unforgiving multi-blade faster than a mouse trap. And suddenly the warm July air felt cool as I slowly lifted my hand that hadn’t even started bleeding yet. The damage: My middle and index fingers were mutilated from the bottom of the nail up. My ring finger not so terrible, just a shallow cut.
“Are you okay?” My 15-year old brother finally grew the courage to ask.
“I think I need to go to the hospital.”
That was 9 years ago and it’s still my favorite story to tell about shop safety. Perhaps not, however, had the doctor not been able to sew me back together. Or even worse, if I had injured my little brother – an innocent bi-stander who, moments before the accident, was urging me to wear safety glasses.
Shop safety is a serious matter not to be taken lightly. I’m not going to write a manual about how to be safe in every shop or in every situation. It would take too long and you probably wouldn’t read it anyway.
Here are a few shop safety tips that I believe are important for anyone to keep in mind:
- If it feels unsafe, It Is! There’s a safe way to do anything that’s worth doing.
- Take the time to do what ever is necessary to be safe. An accident will kill your productivity much worse than the moments it takes to find some gloves or put on some safety glasses.
- Working safe allows you to focus on the task at hand. It’s difficult to keep a circular saw on the line when you’ve got wood chips bouncing off your eye lids.
That’s all I’m going to say. The rest is up to you. Stay safe out there as you man up to the tasks that confront you but if by any chance you have a gruesome story of your own, please feel free to share it by commenting below!