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A Few Woodturning Safety Tips

  1. If you are not on your game, stop. Always with a project or three in progress I venture down to the shop daily. But some days I'm just not on my game. Mostly I fear a design error or a tolerance overshoot but also I just don't feel the Karma is right. It's the same with riding my motorcycle. If it doesn't feel right and some minutes into it - things don't improve, I stop.
  2. Light, lite and lit. Keep your workpiece clear and visible. I use a pipe cleaner and an old toothbrush whenever I turn, for tight spots and holes to keep them clear of shavings and dust build-up. But I wouldn't notice all that without good lighting. I use a magnetic-base lamp on an adjustable support so that I can yank it into place easily just over my workpiece. Remember, if you don't make it convenient and easy to use you'll be reluctant to utilize it. Light it up!
  3. Lean out of harms way. Whenever I initially start the lathe after beginning to work for the day I step to the side or lean left - left of the headstock just to make sure everything is secure. Particularly when I have a piece chucked into a jaw and am unable to bring the tailstock up because I'm working on the right-end of the piece. Certainly you torque-down the piece and everything feels right but you never know. Additionally, when using the expanding jaw securement we always tender hold-fast pressure with Oh-I-hope-this-doesn't-split caution. Moreover, although I'm sure your well machined jaw chuck stays well maintained, if it were to send one of its pieces airborne it would be catastrophic. Not likely, but catastrophic nonetheless. I believe that a workpiece coming free of the lathe is more likely to fly up and toward the tailstock so that's why I lean left, (for right-handed turners).
  4. I have a beautifully machined jaw chuck that I always use first. But because it is so precisely machined it has sharp jaw teeth edges. When I accidentally graze and touch the jaw with my finger it can cause a substantial cut. So I've taken to putting a bandaid on the applicable finger. Two actually, one over the top and another around the end of the finger hold the first bandaid in place. I have some other surgical wrap that works great but I'm an RN and don't figure the average joe has access to it. AND I've discovered an unintended benefit. I work small and when sanding such items I get some heat generation that transfers through the sandpaper to my finger. Thus, I have to stop and wait 30 seconds. With the bandaid in place I can sand a bit longer without the discomfort yet not long enough to threaten the integrity of the workpiece from overheating.

Scott Roberts
Dawsonville, Georgia

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