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Safety with power tools is boring but vital topic and there's not a lot that can make it interesting. I have always been paranoid about loosing digits or parts of digits and to date - after 50 years of woodworking I still have all of them intact, and I intend to keep it that way.
RULE #1 - STOP, LOOK and PLAN. I never attempt any cuts with the table saw that I even think will land me in trouble. If I have any hesitation about making a cut, I look for an alternative method or a safer way of doing things.
In the past generation when power tools started to become popular, the pioneers in power tool woodworking lost fingers and parts of fingers because they were not aware of safety procedures and in many cases there were not the safety shields on machinery that there are now. They taught us that safety IS important.
Part of the problem today, is that many manufacturers that produce inexpensive table saws are, in many cases, unable to manufacture things like blade guards, slitters, riving knives that are truly safe. And what I mean by that, is once you get some of this equipment home and set put it all together, the problem is that some of the safety equipment is so crappy that you need to take it OFF the machine to make the machine safer, because wood is getting caught in and under there supposed safety features and in fact are making the machinery less safe.
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I don't need a flashlight very often when I am doing woodworking tasks, but every now and again I need extra light to see into some part of a machine that needs to be lubricated, tightened, loosened, sharpened or some other adjustment. I always try to have a flashlight handy but every time I go to use it either the batteries are dead, or more often, they are missing because they were taken out to be used in some other "battery craving tool or toy". I have plug-in trouble light, but just as the name indicates, it is more trouble to find the light ... plug it in and then discover the bulb is either broken or simply doesn't work. These kinds of small irritations are what drive me crazy in the workshop.
A few months ago, some dear soul decided to give me a present of a portable light. At first when I looked at it I though ho-hum, another light that will cause me more grief in the workshop ... BUT NO ! This light is different. The batteries are built in, it's a rechargeable, and because someone has thought of using Lithium Ion batteries, the charge will last MUCH longer than the old NiCad batteries, and the light will deliver a brighter illumination longer with Lithium batteries before they need another charge.
This is a great little unit for the workshop, kitchen or RV ...
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I have met too many senior woodworkers with bad hearing. I hate seeing this because when I want to carry on a conversation with them it becomes very frustrating for both of us. I talk loud, they can't hear so they interrupt what I am trying to say and what inevitably happens is they carry the entire conversation because they can't hear what I am saying.
These situations always make me more determined to try to protect my own hearing more so that hopefully in the future, my hearing will not be affected so badly. I am hoping that when I spent many hours of my youth attending LOUD Rock and Roll Band practices and events that this will not come back to affect my hearing too ... but I expect it will. Even more important that I protect my own hearing.
A couple of years ago I decided to treat myself to a new set of hearing protectors that included an AM/FM radio in them. This newer model even has jack to connect your MP3 player to as well. I was a bit concerned when I purchased this unit that maybe I would simply be adding to the "volume of noise" bombarding my ears, but after an initial tryout I found that was not the case at all.
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Woodworking is among one of the safest and enjoyable hobbies you can do, provided you adhere to a set of rudimentary and easy to follow safety rules. These woodworking safety rules are designed to be easy to remember and are mostly common sense. That being said, failure to comply with the safety rules can cause serious injury. The work shop is not the place to careless. It is the place to learn and adopt good safety working habits which will in turn make woodworking more fun and enjoyable.
1. Always Wear Safety Equipment
This might seem like a common sense kind of rule, but it’s an important one to remember. During usage of loud power tools like routers and surface planers, wearing ear protection is a noted advantage. Similarly, wear latex gloves while applying finishes. NEVER BE WITHOUT YOUR SAFETY GLASSES. These should be the first thing you reach for when entering the shop.
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This is simply not the case with woodworkers, though, as they have to contend with the dust created from constantly cutting into the interlocking fibers that are the main structural component of wood. This means that sheds, shops and many other areas used by woodworkers will often be filled with amounts of dust too large for a conventional vacuum cleaner to handle. This is where they turn to heavy duty dust collection systems to do the job.
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Wood dust becomes a potential health problem when wood particles from processes such as sanding and cutting become airborne. Breathing of these particles may cause allergic respiratory effects, mucosal and nonallergic respiratory effects, and cancer. The extent of these hazards and the associated wood types have not been clearly established.
According to the US Department of Labour ... Exposure to wood dust has long been associated with a variety of adverse health effects, including dermatitis, allergic respiratory effects, mucosal and nonallergic respiratory effects, and cancer. Contact with the irritant compounds in wood sap can cause dermatitis and other allergic reactions. The respiratory effects of wood dust exposure include asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and chronic bronchitis.