We have all done things that we know we shouldn’t do. I’m not talking about kicking a cat or mugging someone’s grandma or anything as drastic as that. I am referring to stuff we do in our shops or in our daily lives while in the process of making things or doing a chore in order to cut the corners just a bit and get us to the finish line faster. Sometimes we get away with it, but many times it turns into a mini-disaster and can ruin a project or even become downright dangerous. When this happens, we find ourselves saying “Will I ever learn?”
I received an email from my friend Leldon yesterday. Many of you have heard me talk about Leldon before. Although he is young, I met him over ten years ago when he was just 16 and already had been doing woodworking and scroll sawing for several years. He is an excellent cutter and he not only cuts, but also designs his own patterns.
The subject of the email read “Always drill your hole before scrolling!” and before I even opened it, I knew it wasn’t going to be a fun story. Indeed, it was not. After spending over two hours cutting out a clock, Leldong realized that he forgot to drill the large hole to accommodate the clock insert for the piece. He knew better, but he went over to his drill press and tried to drill for the insert after cutting the surrounding edge and the following occurred:
Now Leldon and I have been friends for a long, long time. We have the kind of relationship where we are able to kid each other and tease a little bit without the other getting upset. After reading that he was OK, and the only casualties were the horses, I was talking to him and told him that I was going to put it in my blog here. I was only joking, as I didn’t want to embarrass him, but in discussing it, he said that I should talk about it so that I can alert other people to the dangers of cutting corners and doing things that we know are stupid, but try anyway.
Leldon told me the worst part of his mishap was that he knew better. He said he couldn’t even swear about it because he knew he was wrong when he tried it and did it anyway. It brought to mind some times when I did things like that myself and had equally disastrous results.
Lately, I have a favorite screw up that I do (unintentionally) that one day may post a serious danger to myself. So far I have dodged the bullet, but it will be only a matter of time before I get hurt by my own carelessness. I don’t know if it is because I am distracted, or if I am thinking in too many directions or if I am just hurrying through the process too much, but I can tell you that I have allowed it to happen at least three times in the past few months and I don’t like it.
What I have been doing is leaving the metal chuck in the drill press when changing the bit and forgetting it and then turning on the drill press. Now I know that I am really being stupid and I feel like an idiot when it happens. Of course the drill press in motion launches the chuck key immediately like a frisbee. Several times I (of course) have my head kind of close, as I am looking right at the drill bit to drill when I turn the button on. I am fortunate that I still have both my eyes and all my teeth and although it has never hit me directly (yet) it has bounced off the nearby scroll saw and wall with enough force to set me shaking.
Dumb, dumb, DUMB!
What really scares me is not only the potential danger that I put myself in, but also the fact that I have done this stupid thing more than once. I don’t think it has anything to do with laziness. I think it is more related to distractions and my head not being into what is in front of me like it should be. I know I have to remind myself to slow down and concentrate more at the task at hand when I am working with tools such as these.
Fortunately. the last couple of times I was working at the saw and drill press I DID remember to take out the chuck before turning it on. I actually consciously thought about removing the key before hitting the switch. Now that’s progress!
So why did Leldon and I decided to share our follies with you all? It isn’t because we are particularly proud of our collective stupidity. It is because we realize that many others do similar things and we want to remind you of the potential danger in taking short cuts (either intentional or not intentional) when you work. We thought we should tell our stories as kind of a public service message to remind you to ‘do as we say and not as we do’ and take the time and care necessary when building a project or working with your power tools.
Leldon said he learned his lesson. And I am well on the way to learning mine. It is easy to become so familiar with what we are doing in our shops that we sometimes forego some of the basic safety practices that are so important to us, no matter how experienced we are.
So consider today’s post as a kind of reminder to play safe while in your shop. Whether you see a little bit of yourself in reading our stories or have some stories of your own to share, I think it is important that we all take the time to think about what we are doing and give our tools the respect they deserve. That way we can all have fun doing what we love to do.
Have a great day and remember to take care in what you are doing.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"