Podcast - Adam Savage Project

Shop Safety – 2/26/2013

This week, Adam, Norm, and Will tackle the controversial topic of shop safety. After online comments about Adam’s box-building video and shop safety, we jump right into Adam’s rules for shop safety. Well, after an extended discussion about proper cold-weather footwear.

Comments (39)

39 thoughts on “Shop Safety – 2/26/2013

  1. I recently cut off my pinkie finger using a 10″ miter saw because I didn’t clamp the piece of wood I was cutting and it got caught in the blade. I had no fear of the saw then, but I pay more attention to it now.

  2. I have a burn-mark/scar on the inside of my thigh/groin… too close for comfort to very important “stuff”. :p

    I was cutting through some stainless steel plating with a grinder, and didn’t notice that the molten hot spray from the cutting-wheel was slowly burning its way through the groin on my suit.

    It was a very warm day and I was working in the sun, so I wasn’t wearing jeans underneath, but a sweatpant of synthetic material. The heat from the smoldering cotton suit melted the synthetic in my pants and boxers, giving me quite the shock as a patch of molten plastic suddenly contacted my inner thigh.

    Better than getting the actual spray from the grinder on my skin, but man did it hurt.

    One more check in the “pay attention to what you’re doing” column… 🙂

    Edit: On saturday I was cleaning enamel paint and gold leaf off of an x-acto blade with my thumb, it bled for like 6 hours afterwards. As a graphic designer I do a lot of packaging comps, so. many. x-acto. cuts.

  3. On the subject of stitches and shop accidents (not cold and Alaska and boots and stuff), a friend of mine uses cyanoacrylate whenever he has minor skin cuts. Something that a single stitch or perhaps even a band-aid would be enough.

    Do you guys think it’s safe to use something like that or is it utter insanity?

  4. cyanoacrylate has been used by surgeons for years in certain cases, bonds tissue brilliantly, quickly and is non-toxic. Can’t see a problem for using it, maybe even in emergencies but I imagine it’d sting like hell! If a band-aid would suffice, i’d rather use that personally. Here in the UK you can get similar stuff over the counter now for exactly these purposes.

  5. Saw Stop table saws are one of the best tools invented. Some people argue they make you less careful because of the added safety features, but I’ve seen them save fingers. Just pretend they don’t have the safety so that when you do screw up, you still have a complete hand.

  6. the table saw at Techshop SF is a SawStop (don’t know about the other locations), so less chance to hurt yourself (still a dangerous machine, obviously).

    Another safety concern at communal shops is what Adam mentioned, dull or chipped blades. Techshop will tell you to notify staff as soon as something isn’t working optimally so they can switch it out, as it is a safety liability. However, as you mentioned, if you have three hours to get your work done, chances are you’ll be stressed and risk it on your five small cuts or whatever, instead of waiting 30 minutes for someone to put a fresh blade on the bandsaw.

    The one that scares me at Techshop is the Flowjet. If you were to get cut on it, however unlikely that is, the insane pressures will pretty much explode your hand while also blowing the garnet abrasive, rusty water and whatever else debris throughout your body, essentially poisoning you with tiny particles of god knows what.

    When you work on the Flowjet you have a card around your neck that says something like “I was working on a waterjet cnc, check my entire body for foreign objects”.

  7. One thing that bothered me in his build video that he did not address is the lack of a safety guard on his table say. My high school shop teacher taught us that we should never run a table saw without the safety guards.

  8. When I started taking shop back in sixth grade, Mr. Samuelson showed us how quickly things could happen. The shop room was about… oh, eighty feet long by sixty wide, the tablesaw was in the middle, the bandsaw behind that, and he showed us what ‘kickback’ was by throwing a piece of ply onto it and it literally dented the wall over forty feet away. Chicken legs were used at the bandsaw with _dull_ blades and there was literally no resistance. I still have nightmares.

  9. I will never forget the time I was using too much pressure with a cutoff wheel causing it to slip and slice through the skin on the first knuckle of my ring finger of my left hand. It was a clean cut, and didn’t do any internal damage. Before I got it stitched up, I was fascinated that when I pulled the skin apart I could watch my tendon move as I opened and closed my hand.

    The oddest injury was when I was using a die grinder and got metal in my eye while properly wearing a face shield, and safety glasses.

    Then there was that time I was MIG welding and somehow red hot spatter went inside my leather boots and and made its way down in between my toes.

  10. Just want to point out it´s 2013,the title of this episode is: Shop Safety – 2/26/2012

    Well it´s as you said, everyone can make a mistake.

  11. As the original commenter who raised my concerns over the shop safety I appreciate you addressing the issue in this podcast. I also think it’s great that you acknowledge you weren’t following good safe practise.

    However, having listened to your reasoning, I still don’t understand why you wouldn’t use the safety equipment that comes with the kit? The table saw scares the hell out of me too, and as a result I won’t touch it without the blade cover, safety glasses, push stick etc.. I always thought that the more educated and experienced you are, the more cognisant of the dangers you become. As a result, that makes me want to take more precautions.

    You are right that you can’t eliminate risk, but you can minimise it. If a blade cover is on, you can’t fall on the blade, simple. So why would you not use it and add to the risk?

    When I’m working at height, I wear a harness because falling would have very bad repercussions. I don’t decide that because I know of the risks, not wearing one will make me work safer and smarter. It just doesn’t work like that. The numbers of factors that are out of your control means it’s just not worth it.

    At the end I was banging my head against the desk (with my hard hat on) when Adam said experience breeds a level of comfort that’s not safe and you have to be vigilant against it. My whole point is that by not using the safety equipment you are not being vigilant, you are being complacent!

    EDIT: I just want to add, with that all said, your shop videos are awesome. Please don’t let any criticisms stop you from showing off your work. We can all learn a lot from your techniques and advice. As you said there will always be people who pick holes in what you do and on the internet the feedback is there for all to see. I don’t say these things to belittle people, or make anyone look stupid. I say it because I don’t want to see you or anyone else get hurt unnecessarily!

  12. Sophomore year of highschool a guy in my wood shop class cut a piece of wood on a table saw but didn’t bother to push the cut piece away. The piece got caught in the blade (which he didn’t shut off) and was launched back into him. By ‘into him’ I’m mean he got impaled with a 1/2″ wide chunk of wood. The poor guy was screaming like crazy and bleeding all over the place.

    I’ll never forget my Shop teacher’s reaction. He went in this order:

    1) Casually walked over to the table saw and turned it off

    2) Walked over to the student

    3) Turned the student around to face him

    4) PUNCHED STUDENT IN THE FACE. (this knocked the kid out cold)

    5) Gently put student on the ground

    6) Walked into his office, called 911, then called the head office to let them know what happened.

    Once the kid was on the ground I (and two other students) applied basic emergency care. The three of us were in the school’s lifeguard/EMT training program so we knew what we were doing.

    When the teacher was done with the calls he came out and asked all of use if we “knew what the dumbass on the floor did wrong”. Someone answered him correctly (I was to busy making sure the kid didn’t bleed out) and the ambulance arrived pretty quickly. The kid was taken to the ER, had to have some emergency surgery to remove the wood and repair a broken rib (at least that’s what the rumors said at the time). Needless to say this was a fantastic lesson in what not to do on a table saw.

    EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention was that the table saw in the story was very, very old and had been outfitted with components from multiple different units. Also, the motor’s limiter had been removed/was broken so the saw was spinning at about three to four times the speed it should have been limited to. What I always wondered what how the blade didn’t shatter at those speeds.

  13. When I went to school, my wood work teacher was super fanatical about safety (especially because we were at a careless age).

    The rule at school was if you hair could touch your shoulders you had to tie it back and wear a hair net.

    Well cool kids being cool kids, a “cool kid” with long hair didn’t. My teacher grabbed him by the throat and pin him against the wall and full on yelled at him. He then proceeded to take his toupee off and revealed a massive bald patch (not natural bald patch), he told us all that in his younger years he was working on a drill press and his hair got caught in the bit and yanked a whole chunk of his hair off of his head, it was about 3in square.

    The best advice he ever gave us, was when ever using any machine stand with one foot in front of another (martial arts type stance), so if something happens it is easier to push yourself away from the machine.

    PS: Awesome podcast again, I listen to it religiously now!

  14. I love these, but guys, the forced laughter from you guys has got to stop. It’s unnerving and downright uncomfortable at times.

  15. Brother of mine is a metal worker, he tells a story of this guy who got his hand stuck in a rolling machine. All oh his fingers popped when he pulled it back out. That machine scares me most. *shudders*

  16. A kid in my high school wood shop class almost cut his thumb off with a band saw because he thought it would be cool to cut off a corner of his math book to make it look more like his French book.

    The dude was a real genius. His whole face was messed up because over our winter break he had accidentally lit himself on fire while he was out riding dirt bikes and messing around in the desert. He’d tried to make something like a Molotov cocktail with a vodka bottle full of gasoline, and it blew up in his face.

  17. A couple of years ago I was tinkering with an old DVD drive, putting together a jog-wheel interface for a basic DJ mixer application. At this point I recall taking a break from the project to explore the insides of your typical DVD drive.

    I’d noticed that the outer shell of the drive appeared to have a circular cutout in it, held in place by nothing more than the drive label sticker plastered across the top. After cutting the label around the cutout with a pen knife, I pressed my thumb against the cutout and gave it a testing push. It gave a little, so I gave it a little more force and the cutout popped loose quite easily.

    So easily in fact, that my thumb slid right against the now open edge of apparently quite sharp, …damn this is gonna hurt… DVD drive case.

    After the second paper towel/electrical tape bandage didn’t show any signs that the bleeding was slowing down, I decided I better drive myself to the ER a couple blocks away. Ended up talking about tablets with the Dr while he gave me six stitches.

  18. Good Evening one and all. Can anyone give me some information on those boots Adam used in Alaska. Because I live in Iceland and my feet are getting a tad bit on the chilly side. Great show, love the podcast

  19. I’m a first aid instructor and have seen my fair share of injuries (broken arms, legs, chainsaw injuries). Adam mentioned in the podcast that to treat a bleed that you should elevate the injury. This is no longer recommended for bleeding (at least in Canada). The most important things to do is to apply direct pressure and rest. I appreciated the comments that everybody should take a first aid course, but you should also regularly be re-certified in first aid. First aid is based on science and changes every five years. Over the past 10 years there have been significant changes to first aid.

  20. Not really a shop injury but I was running wire in a wall without gloves, my hand slipped and I took a good chunk out of my thumb on the range hood I was installing. This is maybe a week after it happened.

  21. 24:06 – Will, are you referring to the term muscle memory?

    Thanks for the frequent instalments of “Still Untitled” guys!

  22. This is probably more related to the “10 dangerous things you should let your kids do”.

    I was about 3 years old when I learned that you always cut away from yourself with a knife. And I have a clearly visible scar at the base of my index finger to remind me. It’s not as visible in this photo but I learned my lesson.

    And when I was about 10 I learned about fire safety when I used charcoal lighter fluid to make a torch and it dripped fire on my hand.

    And my friend learned about gun safety when we were about 15 and he shot a BB Gun in my eyebrow thinking he had only loaded it with air. I still have a faint scar of that too. Good thing his aim was off because he was aiming for my eye…

  23. It’s called Sawstop and is a patented system I think. If you touch the blade, the saw fires an explosive charge into the blade, stopping it in a fraction of a second.

    Likely you’ll get away with a small nick in your skin, and a few hundred dollars out of your pocket for replacing the blade and cartridge.

    The stopping-mechanism is triggered by the electrical conductivity of your skin, so there is also a risk of false positives, but its worth it if it means you’ll keep your finger or life.

  24. I love how shop safety talk always leads to everyone sharing their scars and stories from poor shop safety experiences in the past. 😀

    I’ve never done any major damage to myself in the shop, aside from perhaps breathing in too much fixatif fumes. My best shop injury story involves watching my eighth grade shop class teacher nick a half cm off the end of his index finger whilst demonstrating table saw ‘safety’ to the class.

  25. I cut about 5mm deep into the web of skin between my thumb and forefinger once with a dull knife but it didn’t bleed. I was amazed, it was like I’d just cut into latex or something. After about a full minute I thought I’d better make it bleed just to help flush the wound out (and to prove to myself I wasn’t really an android), so I swung my arm around a couple of times, and then it bled like crazy.

  26. The comment about working with machines being mostly an exercise in preparing to use the machines reminds me of an assertion that I have started making about sewing: most of sewing is not running the sewing machine. Most of sewing is quality time with your clothes iron. That’s the only way to get nice finished results, and that’s not obvious when you first start sewing.

    Flatten the cloth. Cut the cloth. Sew a seam. Press the seam. Press open the seam if it’s supposed to be open. Sew a seam. Press the seam . . .

  27. I have an axe scar in my knee from splitting wet wood and a knife scar in my thumb from barking wet wood. The best thing I can say when working with wood outside, make sure it is dry.

  28. Looked this up real quick because of someone’s comment on the YouTube video for this podcast.

    It destroys the saw, but really does seem to save you fingers.

    [saw stop – time warp]


    Just to clarify, it is a wonderful FALLBACK system and does not, by any means, justify unsafe behavior around dangerous equipment.

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