Saturday, October 23, 2010

Safety Equipment

Safety Glasses: They are a must when I am working. I only have two eyes and they are not repairable or replaceable. I use them whenever I am using fast rotating equipment. I have had one significant eye injury. I was making some rabbets in some birch for some train cars. A piece of splintered wood flew under my safety glasses and into my eye. In my attempts to flush it out, it embedded in my eyelid. Went to urgent care and they tried to flush it out and failed. The next morning my eye was swollen shut. The body is a miracle in itself and it expelled the splinter on its own. I still followed up with a specialist to make sure there was nothing in the eye. Are safety glasses important, Yes! Do I wear them every time a piece of equipment tells me too, No. If you look at flash lights sold in the cordless combo packs, they tell you to use safety glasses when using them. When using my drill, I don’t always put on safety glasses. When I am out working with my tools they are on. I have a couple of pairs just in case I lose or break one. My advice, find a pair that you like and buy a couple. It is very easy to find excuses to not wear uncomfortable or glasses that skew vision. Basic glasses will do for most operations. I do know that people use full face shields for doing turnings. If you are worried about your eyes at least get a basic pair of safety glasses. They are cheaper than losing an eye.

Ear Protection: I did not get ear protection until after I was married. I guess my wife always wants me to hear her. Well with the hearing protection it is hard for me to hear her. Prolonged exposure to loud noises will cause hearing loss. I have one of the higher rated ear protection and they are reasonably priced. I purchased my ear protection at Ear protection is based on the amount of they can reduce decibels. If my table saw has a 110 dB reading and I am wearing ear muffs with a noise reduction reading (NRR) of 30 dB I will only hear the saw at 80dB. There was an interesting article in Wood Magazine a little while back about ear protection. They talked about putting in the ear buds of an iPod is better than nothing just don’t turn the volume up when you turn on machinery.

Respirator: Another purchase after I was married. I cannot say I use it as much as I should. It is kept in my garage because that is where I do my sanding and finishing. Large amounts of sanding create a lot of fine dust. This dust is not good for the lungs. I also have an air brush and fine particles of finish are not good for the lungs. I have also used oil based finished that evaporate off chemicals not good for the lungs. I use the respirator for my major sanding projects and finishing. I have also used it when cutting into my few pieces of exotic woods as precaution only.

The Brain: This is probably the most important piece of equipment any one has. This organ in your body will tell you if what you are doing is safe. It also gives ideas and thoughts on how a project can be completed without endangering yourself or others. If there is one thing I have learned with wood working, there is always more than one way to do things. One may be more comfortable doing it one way over another. For example, I have the ability to cross cut on my table saw. However I chose to use the miter saw. The miter saw was also my go to saw for making all my scrap blocks. Now that I have a band saw I use it more for cutting smaller parts.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Safety: Over Rated?

I feel the need to post something on safety. There will be some that disagree and some that think that I am too strict. The company I work for in the recent past just hired a risk management manager. I am not sure what he does entirely except print out safety manuals, have safety award parties and implement safety rules. He is big on “Safety First” and just adopted the slogan from a company contest of “Make safety your first priority.” I say that is completely untrue and false security. If safety really was our first priority we would never leave the house. I would propose safety is all about risk management: What are you willing to risk and can you live with the consequences? For example, I work 30 miles away and have to go through one of the worst freeway interchanges in Southern California. I have been in two accidents in the area of the interchange in the four years that I have worked for this company. Neither were serious or my fault. If safety was first in my life I would not have taken that job because of the commute alone. I also would not work in a job that required excessive typing in fear of arthritis in my hands. However I feel the risk is adequate for my compensation. Let’s face it would any mothers have given birth if safety was first? Would men ask women out on dates in fear of being turned down(not a very good example in this day and age any more)? Would there be any progression if safety was first? So this post is going to be more on risk taking rather than on safety first.

In life we take risks every day, some have physical consequences and others are financial and some maybe psychological. We all put up safety nets to protect us from the potential dangers of life. It may be the car we drive, a savings account, our friends, or maybe it is sun block. The same applies with wood working. I am well aware of the dangers and risks involved in woodworking and I am willing to take them. I do have several pieces of equipment that are extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. I have some safety nets that I have when using the equipment. I will share a couple with you in the next few posts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My High School Cross Country Coach

I know this is not about wood working, but I found the blog of the King Cross Country team.  This may mean nothing to people that read this blog, but the coach is Brad Peters.  He was my coach when I ran at Ayala a few years ago.  I never had him as a school teacher and I think I really missed out.  He could motivate and inspire.  He never thought of him self first.  He will always be a better writer than I am.  I have attached the website to my friends list.  If you read only a couple of posts you will see what a remarkable man he really is.  It was my privilege to run with him as my coach.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Sample Shop

I had the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks in the sample shop at my work. We were in the process of quoting several vanities for Home Depot’s Martha Stewart line. They recently just launched their custom bath and kitchen line. We were working on the retail/in-stock line. These units were designed by Martha Stewarts’s design team and completely different than what we do now. The past two weeks were spent making the samples. I hate to say that the drawings made were rushed and not all clear to give someone to build. Our sourced parts were good but the assembly drawings were either sketches or drawings not updated with the new design changes. This is probably more information than you care to know so I will get to the point. To aid the sample shop in assembling these units as quickly and correctly as possible I was out assisting the build because I was the lead engineer on the project.

It was interesting to see how they put together these units. The most interesting fact is that they use one tool for 80% of the work. They have a sliding table saw for sheet goods. They use it for squaring board, ripping small strips, cross cutting and cutting dado grooves, rabbits, and tongue and grove joints. They have a miter saw and a cabinet table saw with a dado blade set. They also have two routers. It took a week to realize why the used this machine so much: setup. This machine was easy to set up and had a scale that was accurate to the blade. It would take several minutes to setup the other machines.

Setup was the second thing I noticed was quickened. Rather than set up stops and fixtures to drill holes or cut accurate dado grooves they would take short cuts that resulted in the same result. I am not saying to make shortcuts. They need to work fast and they have adapted. Why set up a dado blade when moving the ripping fence 1/8” at a time has the same result? A dado will have a cleaner cut however in particle board the result will be the same. It is also about tool wear, accuracy and precision. Their shortcuts will dull the table saw blade faster. The dado blade will also resist deflection.

What have I learned from this experience? Something I all ready knew: there are several ways to do the same thing. Am I going to change my practices? No, I am comfortable using my tools to do the assigned tasks. Am I going to use the shortcuts I learned the past two weeks? There may be a couple of situations I use the techniques I learned. I am not graded on my speed. I would rather take may time and not make something I enjoy doing a job. I am also grateful to have my own tools.  I do not want to trust some one else to the care and maintenance of the equipment.

Just a note unrelated to this post: I am sanding another bucket of blocks. So by the end of the month there should be another contest.