In my previous post, Shop Safety for the Total Goober, Part 1, we established a commonly-overlooked fact about most of us weekend DIY-ers and woodworkers: we’re goobers. We take shortcuts – heck, there are entire blogs out there about said shortcuts. After all, who has time to do everything a professional contractor or woodworker does? We have day jobs, ya’ll.
But as we also established in the previous post, shortcuts are bad when it comes to safety. They’re a great way to lose an eye or a finger or worse. And while the two we covered previously – eye protection and ear protection – are probably the most important, there are a few other major things that you should consider before getting out this weekend and busting up those pallets you found.
Foot Protection, or How Not to Break Your Toe
Feet. For real. Look, if you’re working with wood or power tools or non-power tools or stone or anything else that’s remotely heavy, there’s this thing we found out about a few hundred years ago called gravity. This magical force likes to pull things off the workbench or out of your hands directly onto your toes with startling accuracy. Even something as light as a claw hammer (they only weigh a few pounds) will make you look like this if you drop that sucker on your tootsies:
It really shouldn’t have to be said, but wear closed toed shoes. They can make a difference between a sore toe and a broken one. If you’re working with stuff that would seriously hurt if you dropped it, better to go with steel toe shoes. I dropped a copper pipe on my foot once that was so heavy it bent the steel toe plate down into my foot, but didn’t actually hurt it. That would have been a hospital trip for sure.
Respect gravity, because it sure as heck doesn’t respect you at all. Especially if you’re not great at holding onto things.
While we’re on the subject of feet, let’s talk about nails.
Ugh, not THOSE nails. THESE nails:
Yeah. Watch where you step. Most workspaces after a few hours of work are a minefield of these things and almost anyone who’s worked construction has a story of stepping on or running into a nail. While regular old shoes – even steel toe shoes – won’t stop a nail if you step directly on an upturned one, there are a few things you can do to keep those buggers out of your feet:
- Clean up after yourself. Pick up old nails you’ve pulled out.
- Either pull nails out of boards immediately or at least avoid leaving boards nails-up on the ground.
- Keep a clear path to walk through your workspace.
Some work boots also have soles meant to stop nails from penetrating. If you have those, use them. If you don’t, just take care where you walk and be aware of where your feet are going. And it’s a good idea to keep your tetanus immunization up to date if you’re going to be working any kind of construction project regardless of whether you’re a goober or not.
Head Protection, or How to Not Get Your Eggs Scrambled
There will be plenty of times that this one doesn’t apply, like when you’re working on a workbench or table and there’s nothing above you. But if you’re in a situation where something might fall on your head, better to be safe. There’s a reason OSHA is crazy about hard hats in construction areas. They really do save lives, even if they aren’t the most stylish thing in the world. As noted above, gravity may be keeping you from floating off this planet (still not sold on that being the best thing), but it doesn’t necessarily like you. As a matter of fact it’s kind of a petty, vindictive, juvenile punk.
Miscellaneous, or Don’t Do These Dumb Things Either
There are a lot of things that don’t fall into the category of protective equipment that the total goober should know as well. You know, basic stuff, like don’t touch the spinny cutty thing while it’s still spinning. Here’s a couple other basic things about safety you should know to fill out your goober education:
- Wear a mask when doing anything that is going to create a lot of dust. Your lungs will thank you both now and later.
- Keep your hair tied back or up if it’s long. You want to see what happens when long hair gets caught in a saw blade? At best it’s a ripped out patch of hair. At best.
- In fact, no dangly things at all. Earrings, necklaces, etc. This is a workshop, not a glamour show. They don’t go well with the sawdust you’re going to get covered in anyway.
- Always be keenly aware of where your appendages are, or you might find them on the floor. Don’t run a saw and get distracted. Focus on what you’re doing when power tools are on.
- Only plug in power tools when you’re using them, even if they have a lockout key or something similar, especially if you have little ones around. It is way too easy to bump something on.
- With mobile saws, slow and steady wins the race. Get in too much of a hurry and you’ll burn out the saw or get saw kickback.
- With stationary saws, like table saws, band saws, and scroll saws, use scrap or push sticks when your fingers get too close to the blade to finish your cuts.
Of course that’s not even really scratching the surface, but I’m not here to write an e-book about it. I’m just here to humorously tell you to shape the heck up when you’re doing DIY projects for the sake of the rest of your body, goober.
What did I miss? There are a ton of safety guidelines, adages, and stories out there. Feel free to share your own in the comments or hit us up on Twitter!
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