Workshop Safety Gear - Don't lose your faculties

Friday, June 21, 2019

Workshop Safety Gear - Don't lose your faculties


Do you want to live life without sound or sight or 10 fingers? Protect them! In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley presents basic workshop safety gear and some rules that everyone should follow to stay safe while making things. Topics include safety glasses and other eye protection, hearing protection and other lesser thought about items.

16 quick safety tips

Shop Hacks on dust collection and air filtration

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For a written transcript, go to Workshop Safety Gear - Don't lose your faculties

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0 by Kevin MacLeod at
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing"


[Norm Abram's voice] But before we use any power tools, let's talk about shop safety.

Be sure read, understand and follow all the safety rules that come with your power tools.

Knowing how to use your power tools properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury.

And remember this, there is no more important safety rule than to wear these, safety glasses.

I'm sure many of us remember Norm's sound advice from back in the day.

While an important start, workshop safety gear goes far beyond just safety glasses and we're starting right now.

Welcome to the House of Hacks.

If we're just meeting, I'm Harley and I make stuff out of wood, metal and sometimes other materials.

And sometimes I talk about other issues, such as today, for National Safety Month, I want to talk a little bit about shop safety.

To start, I want to acknowledge that if you watch some of my videos, I wouldn't be surprised if you found violations of some of what I talk about today.

In the home shop, ultimately, you're the only one responsible for your own safety and you have to make the judgement call about what to do and how to do it.

In my opinion, the two most important pieces of safety gear are eye protection and ear protection.

Anytime a power tool is used, or a hand tool with high forces, such as a hammer or a press, eye protection is critical.

Since I wear both glasses and contacts, I have solutions for both.

But even if you don't wear corrective lenses, it's a good idea to have both on hand in case you have visitors that stop by and need some.

And, while they're better than nothing, prescription glasses are not safety glasses.

In addition to safety glasses, for some operations, particularly if flying particles are involved, like using the lathe or a grinder, I like to have a face shield.

This provides additional protection for the eyes as well as some level of protection for the rest of the face.

After the eyes are covered, the next most important thing is ear protection.

This is something that for some reason doesn't seem to get as much attention, but in my opinion should.

This is something that I kind of got upset at Norm for, for not mentioning it more often in his show.

Our eyes are super sensitive and we know immediately when we get something in them, but hearing damage is much more insidious.

It tends to happen without us being aware of it and it's cumulative over time.

Many small instances of too much noise add up until it's significant.

Since we adapt as it worsens, we don't notice it until it causes problems in our interactions with other people, and by then it's too late.

So in addition to safety glasses, another must is either ear muffs that go over the ear or ear plugs that go in the ear.

I have and use both.

Ear muffs I use for shorter operations where I only need them for a limited time.

They're easier to put on and take off but they are more bulky and hot.

If I need hearing protection for an extended period of time, I personally prefer ear plugs.

They're a little harder to put in but they're more comfortable, they're not as bulky and they're not as hot.

I get a box of 200 disposable pair for about $20 a box and I use them not only in the workshop but also in the yard for yard work and when riding the motorcycle.

Another piece of safety gear that's not talked about as much as the first two is breathing protection.

Primarily involving wood working, like hearing damage, dust is one of those insidious things that causes damage over time.

I've heard reports of people that have gone without breathing protection for years and have no visible problems until one day they develop an allergy to either wood or wood dust that makes doing their hobby or profession either undoable or very uncomfortable.

One way of protecting your breathing is with filters and masks.

This can be anything as simple as a dust mask to a respirator or even something battery powered that provides positive pressure ventilation.

Examples of the last one, while expensive, also sometimes have built in eye protection and hearing protection.

In addition to dust, respirators should also be used with chemicals, but be sure that the filter you're using is appropriate for the chemical that you need to filter.

And also, dust respirators may not filter out chemicals and vice versa.

Another form of breathing protection is with really good dust collection.

Tony over at Shop Hacks has this down to a science and a really optimized system.

His shop air while he's running his table saw has a lower particulate count than the outside air.

Another unrecognized hazard, and something I'm become more aware of, is jewelry.

Anything loose can get caught in equipment, particularly things that rotate, and something that would have been a simple brush with the equipment becomes a serious injury.

Since I wear my wedding band all the time, I rarely think about taking it off when I come into the shop.

And this is something I've been thinking about: I need to do more proactively.

I've also thought about the option of getting a silicone ring and wearing it most of the time and only wear the gold band for dressy occasions.

Shop dress code is another item that's not talked about too much but is a safety gear concern too.

Briefly, a couple items...

Wear cotton. It's less flammable than synthetic material and not as prone to melt into your skin if something hot hits it.

Wear close-toed shoes or boots. Again, hot flying metal or falling off-cuts aren't going to penetrate leather. Never wear sandals or flip-flops.

Nothing loose. Always short sleeves. Make sure everything fits well and no ties.

I'd love to hear in the comments what you consider essential safety gear. Did I miss anything critical?

I'll see you in this video where I talk about 16 safety tips in two minutes.

And after watching that video, when making things remember...

Perfection's not required. Fun is!