Ponderings #28: An Open Letter About Safety

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Blog entry by Tomcat1066 posted 01-03-2009 02:52 PM 1744 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 27: Reflections on 2008 Part 28 of Ponderings series Part 29: Taking setbacks in stride. »

It was 365 days ago I posted my first blog here on LumberJocks. In that time, I took a prolonged hiatus in order to get my home finished so we could move in. However, in that 365 days, I learned a lot. Some of it has already been recounted. However, what I’d like to pass on to fellow woodworkers about safety equipment hasn’t, so why not do so here?

To Whom It May Concern:

You don’t know me from Adam’s house cat. I’m just a fellow woodworker who makes use of various forms of safety equipment, just like you. I have safety glasses, ear muffs, and dust masks because my shop is outdoors so I can’t run dust collection ducts. I’m also a new woodworker, but perhaps I can help you out.

Plenty of woodworkers who put their videos on the net don’t wear proper safety equipment in those videos. Here at LumberJocks, we jump on…err…politely point out what is missing from the picture, sort of like “Where’s Waldo” but with safety glasses. But, perhaps there’s a solution to helping each other remember the safety equipment that folks may not have thought about.

If you go on some of the forums, Sawmill Creek as an example, and ask for advice on what table saw to buy, you’re generally told to buy the best table saw you can afford. The same for bandsaw, router, jointer, etc. And yet, for things like dust masks, hearing protection, eye protection, etc, we tend to go fairly basic. We get things that will definitely do the job, don’t get me wrong there, but perhaps we can do better.

What am I talking about?

Easy…instead of just getting safety equipment that will do the job, why not get safety equipment that’s a pleasure to use? For example, my Peltor Worktunes ear muffs. It drowns out the power tool noise just fine. But I keep finding myself leaving them on in between using the tools, because of the radio inside. I’m rocking out and not disturbing the whole neighborhood…at least not with the music. Not only that, but they’re on the next time I want to fire up.

I saw a review here on LumberJocks for a dust mask with a fan in it. It’s apparently supposed to force air through, where as regular dust masks just become clogged up. This mask’s fan has the added benefit of blowing cool air on the user’s face. Again, this creates a benefit for keeping it handy besides the safety benefits.

Yes, I understand some folks reading this may believe that the safety reasons are plenty. However, perhaps added benefits are a great idea for the rest of us ;)

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

7 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3820 days

#1 posted 01-03-2009 04:00 PM

Safety is one thing that, as a rule, we tend to take for granted and apply up to the point of “inconvenience”. It would be nice if we, as woodworkers, would adopt safer practices simply because it is the correct thing to do but, as you rightly implied, sometimes it takes some “sugar coating” to bribe us into following safer practices.

By the way, this is probably a day early since last year was a leap year, but congratulations on your first year anniversary.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3794 days

#2 posted 01-03-2009 05:04 PM

Thanks Scott, and you’re right about the need to sugar coat it. However, safety equipment tends to not be as sexy as cabinet saws and combination jointer/planers ;)

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4313 days

#3 posted 01-03-2009 05:11 PM

One of the things that pissed me off was trying to buy a pair of safety glasses at the HomeDespot. They were all of the same manufacturer. Stuffed in plastic boxes so I could not try them on. They looked cool. They were cheap. Most where sun glasses! Do these guys even use tools or do they just sell sh%t for China….

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3794 days

#4 posted 01-03-2009 05:18 PM

I hear ya Dennis! I ended up with a pair of sun glass-type safety glasses, but I work outside. I was bothered with the fact I couldn’t try them on and make sure they were comfortable. I still want a pair of comfortable, clear ones for cloudy days. I’ll just wait until I get to Atlanta and pay a visit to Rockler and Woodcraft and see what they’ve got!

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View mmh's profile


3676 posts in 3721 days

#5 posted 01-03-2009 06:24 PM

I’ve been acquiring several types of ear protection and eye protection trying to find comfort with function. I’m currently fond of the DeWalt safety glasses, as they are light weight and cover the eyes well with a clear vision. I don’t know if they come in shaded lenses for outdoors. I also bought an inexpensive pair of motorcycle glasses with foam padding on the inside, as most glasses fall down my nose (for lack of a high nose bridge) and the tightness of the frames needed to keep them on hurt my head. These are comfortable as the foam fits snuggly around your face and keeps dust from entering. These also come in shaded lenses. . I did have to get a replacement for a larger pair, as the original ones sent must have been for a really small head as they snapped and broke when I had them sitting on my head and they did pinch some, but the vendor sent me a free replacement pair slightly larger and they are very comfortable.

The ear protection I’m using is the skinny, lightweight SensGard ZEM Protection Device. There is a new style that is sits better on your head and stays in place than the earlier model, as that kept falling off my head as my hair is long and straight and when tied up it’s still too slippery for things to sit on it. They fit in your ear, so placement is crucial but they’re not bulky like the traditional ear muff types, which I always manage to bonk my head on machinery and the noise is more painful than the noise from the machines.

Who says safety wear isn’t sexy? It’s what you wear underneath with it that counts! But actually, I try not to answer the door when in full safety attire, exept if it’s the UPS guy with a wood delivery.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4062 days

#6 posted 01-03-2009 07:08 PM

Dennis- I feel your pain. Things aren’t any better over at Big Blue. Seems like no side protection, slim blade style lens which leave a gaping hole in protection under the eye/above the cheek. I think Bob’s suggestion for full face coverage maybe my way out. I wish I had the scratch for the Trend Airshield or TA Pro.

TC – Thanks for the post! I wanted to observe that I definitely noticed your absence, and am glad to see you back on the site. Happy Jockaversary!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3794 days

#7 posted 01-03-2009 09:46 PM

Thanks Douglas! It’s good to be back :D

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

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