#1 Safety Device
Issue: Issue 2.02
Posted Date: 1/16/2001
So what's your favorite safety device? That was the poll one woodworker conducted lately. He asked the group, for the edification of newer woodworkers, what they considered the most important safety device. He thought that novices could benefit from the wisdom of more experienced woodworkers.
Predictably, the first response named the "brain" the most important safety device. He wrote, "If you are always thinking about what can go wrong and knowing where the cutting edge is at all times, you won't get hurt in the shop." In addition to the brain, some woodworkers obviously have some kind of alarm system as well. One woodworker wrote, "when that little bell starts going off in the back of your head, LISTEN TO IT. It's telling you that you forgot something."
Aside from paying attention, abstaining from alcohol (and most medications and controlled substances) and not working while angry, the first safety device that emerged as important was safety glasses. It's generally agreed that losing your eyes to an accident would be tragic.
The next item was a surprise. One woodworker wrote that either paint or magic markers were important safety items. He uses red markers to paint boundaries on the fence and table of his table saw in areas where fingers should never wander. That sounded like a good idea to more than one person.
Then the original woodworker who posed the question got back on and referred the group to a safety discussion he had on another forum. Apparently he had criticized someone's setup because the woodworker had, get this, somehow rigged his table saw with a remote control. Everyone agreed that this was insane in terms of safety.
One woodworker had an idea, not yet implemented, about hanging a piece of PVC pipe from the ceiling about 2" above the saw to again reinforce the idea of a zone of danger around the blade. It was suggested that such a device may actually be less safe because it might block the line of sight of a cut and distract the eye of the woodworking in mid cut. There was some talk of respirators to protect woodworkers lungs when someone mentioned his "pinky hook" technique. He always hooked his pinky over the table saw's fence to keep his fingers away from the blade.
We're not sure that would work in every case, i.e. when you're ripping very thin strips from stock, but it is something to take under consideration.