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Forum topic by Charles Wilson posted 12-02-2008 04:03 AM 2150 views 1 time favorited 44 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Charles Wilson

18 posts in 3857 days


12-02-2008 04:03 AM

I read a post on another woodworking forum that really disturbed me.

The poster was relating an accident that occurred in his shop involving his young son. Granted that I have been called overly cautious over the years,but I can find no situation in which I would allow a child to operate a table saw no matter how closely supervised.

In over thirty years in the wood industry I have trained / taught hundreds of people in the safe operation of woodworking machinery and tools and I was floored by the posters claim “it was just an accident”.

My question, What age should a child be allowed access to power equipment?

Thanks

Charles


44 replies so far

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3961 days


#1 posted 12-02-2008 04:12 AM

Depends. Size and responsibility level of the child would make a difference. Also the specific power tool and setup. I guess the public schools figure about 12 years old for Jr High shop class.

-- http://www.peteroxley.com/woodworking -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View bbqking's profile

bbqking

328 posts in 3810 days


#2 posted 12-02-2008 04:30 AM

I was 12 years old in Jr. High shop and built a bookcase, a stool, a gun rack, and a desk using all the stuff. This was in the late 60’s, too. I can’t really remember but I bet we didn’t have the safety devices we have now. I guess our best safety feature was the shop teacher, who watched us like a hawk. (That part I do remember.) bbqKing.

-- bbqKing, Lawrenceville

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tooldad

660 posts in 3801 days


#3 posted 12-02-2008 04:47 AM

I have taught both jr high and high school shop. I allowed students to use the drill press, drill, band saw, jig saw, miter saw (only with hold down clamp and supervision while cutting) and the palm sanders. We built a pen holder during 7th grade (only had the kids for 2 months) and some sort of clock or shelf in 8th grade. (only had those kids for a semester.

Some of the kids in high school still make me nervous. I have had 4 accidents in my school shop with students that have required stitches to a student. 2 on the band saw and 2 on the table saw. Call me lucky. Both on the table saw was students trying to remove the scrap and knicked the blade, nothing serious. One of the band saws was same reason, trying to grab scrap next to blade, the 4th was a student that didn’t have a setup check which was required in my class, and had the guard/guide up about 2 inches above the top of his work and he rotated his knuckle into the blade.

I have been teaching 10 years. Average 100-125 kids a year. Over 1000 students and only 4 got stitches. Not too bad.

On the other hand, my 4 1/2 year old has operated a palm sander on a large panel door for my wife’s birthday at age 3. He also has pulled the trigger on the brad nailer for me while I held the nailer. He has run the trigger on a cordless drill with my help. We build a semi truck from wood when he turned 4 and used the drill press with a hole saw to cut the wheels. (I clamped the boards and installed the bit, but he pulled on the feed lever). Finally just a few weeks ago he used the band saw to cut a board to length to make a m&m dispenser. I was over his shoulder and ready to grab if needed. He was cutting a 15” board about 2” wide in half the short way to make the spacers for the project.

My son also knows that safety glasses and ear muffs are required in the shop when tools are running. In fact I don’t even let him play with toy tools wrong. for example hammering with a screwdriver or trying to cut the dog with the toy circ saw or nail gunning something that isn’t part of the project.

My attiitude toward parenting is teach them right. If you tell them no, they try it anyway. We did the same thing with plug in’s. We always had the outlet covers on the ones not in use. but he knows only plugs go in outlets and only to plug something in with mom or dad watching. So far an approach that has been working.

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NY_Rocking_Chairs

514 posts in 3684 days


#4 posted 12-02-2008 01:05 PM

I distictly remember “helping” my father build our first kitchen table when I was 6. By the time I was 10 I was doing all the electrical work on the house when we finished the basement, put on the addition, etc. I was not cutting the wood, but hammering and such. By 12 I was trusted to operate all the power tools on my own.

So a lot depends on the child, how they are raised, how the parents teach, etc.

I have also been shooting competitively since I was 10 years old yet not once did it enter my mind to shoot at someone or use my rifle in anything but the approved manner at the range. Yet while vacationing in Disney World in 2005 there were kids playing in the bushes shooting their “toy” guns at strangers as they walked past, with the parents watching. These toy guns look very realistic and it would make most people nervous to see a gun pointing out of the bushes and at someone or themselves.

-- Rich, anybody want a peanut?

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CharlieM1958

16276 posts in 4305 days


#5 posted 12-02-2008 03:37 PM

I agree with Rich that it is all about teaching kids respect for tools (and guns) from a young age.

I was raised around power tools and guns, and my father was a very safety-conscious man with both. By the time I was 9 or 10, I was allowed to use drill, power sander, drill press, bench grinder… pretty much whatever we had in the shop, without constant supervision. BUT, I had been watching him use these things since I was old enough to follow him around, and every time I watched him use a tool, he would instruct me in how it worked and how to use it safely. The same was true for firearms. It’s all about education.

Having said that, I wouldn’t let a child use something like a table saw until he was not only educated, but also physically large enough to control the cut safely.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View TraumaJacques's profile

TraumaJacques

433 posts in 3587 days


#6 posted 12-02-2008 03:57 PM

Hi, I have two daughters my older one would never be caught in the shop she is too much of a princess but my youngest one who is now 6 loves to be with me in there. However the minute she comes in the show stops and under no circumstances would I use the power tools when she is there. I do however give her scraps and tape and pencils and such to play with until I am done whatever I am doing and then I need to come in and spend some time with them. Like Rich said its about respect for danger. I work in a ER and can tell you stories about people who forgot to be careful. While letting the kids play (safely) you make them aware of what could go wrong and they will respect that so it is a fine balancing act between exposure to danger and complete sheltering them from it.
I think age as less to do with it than exposure and common sense I was working full time and lived out of my folks house by the age of 13 now I know my ten year old is not going to be ready to do that.

-- All bleeding will eventually stop.

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oldskoolmodder

801 posts in 3766 days


#7 posted 12-02-2008 04:50 PM

I think it’s up to the parent to decide what age they let their kids use the tools. Some kids are overly cautious, and some not so much.

When I was in grade school, a janitor showed several of us in his shop at the school, how to make bird feeders, by using a hand auger. Even with carpenter/cabinet makers in the family, this was my first exposure to tools. Obviously, I’ve never forgotten and so it’s a special memory for me.

I have a young cousin (now 9), who would always mess with my tools, when I was over at their house doing something for them. I’d always tell him, DO NOT touch my tools. Practically as soon as I turned away, he’d touch them. I cured him of touching my tools, by having him “use” them, but under my supervision. Could be as simple as drilling a hole or screwing in a screw with the driver, to using a brad nailer. From my experience, it’s actually cured him of touching the tools. Even though I was holding on to the brad nailer while he used it, the sound and feel from pushing the trigger and the nail going in to the wood, showed him that tools are scary, sometimes.

The bottom line is that people should use common sense, when letting kids operate power tools, or even powerless tools.

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3734 days


#8 posted 12-03-2008 12:25 AM

I have an autistic nephew who like lights and things that spin
around. He turned on my drill press once or twice and both
me and his father jumped all over him about it.

Seems to have cured him of that.

I’m in favor of no power tools til a kid can use the hand-tools
safely. A kid can cut himself up with a handsaw or mash his
thumb with a hammer but it’s nothing compared to the maiming
force of a machine.

I wouldn’t be inclined to let kids use power tools until
they had hurt themselves several times with handtools, had
alot of splinters, etc… ‘cause you learn proper caution from
minor injuries.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3734 days


#9 posted 12-03-2008 12:25 AM

I have an autistic nephew who like lights and things that spin
around. He turned on my drill press once or twice and both
me and his father jumped all over him about it.

Seems to have cured him of that.

I’m in favor of no power tools til a kid can use the hand-tools
safely. A kid can cut himself up with a handsaw or mash his
thumb with a hammer but it’s nothing compared to the maiming
force of a machine.

I wouldn’t be inclined to let kids use power tools until
they had hurt themselves several times with handtools, had
alot of splinters, etc… ‘cause you learn proper caution from
minor injuries.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3734 days


#10 posted 12-03-2008 12:25 AM

I have an autistic nephew who like lights and things that spin
around. He turned on my drill press once or twice and both
me and his father jumped all over him about it.

Seems to have cured him of that.

I’m in favor of no power tools til a kid can use the hand-tools
safely. A kid can cut himself up with a handsaw or mash his
thumb with a hammer but it’s nothing compared to the maiming
force of a machine.

I wouldn’t be inclined to let kids use power tools until
they had hurt themselves several times with handtools, had
alot of splinters, etc… ‘cause you learn proper caution from
minor injuries.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3734 days


#11 posted 12-03-2008 12:25 AM

I have an autistic nephew who like lights and things that spin
around. He turned on my drill press once or twice and both
me and his father jumped all over him about it.

Seems to have cured him of that.

I’m in favor of no power tools til a kid can use the hand-tools
safely. A kid can cut himself up with a handsaw or mash his
thumb with a hammer but it’s nothing compared to the maiming
force of a machine.

I wouldn’t be inclined to let kids use power tools until
they had hurt themselves several times with handtools, had
alot of splinters, etc… ‘cause you learn proper caution from
minor injuries.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3734 days


#12 posted 12-03-2008 12:25 AM

I have an autistic nephew who like lights and things that spin
around. He turned on my drill press once or twice and both
me and his father jumped all over him about it.

Seems to have cured him of that.

I’m in favor of no power tools til a kid can use the hand-tools
safely. A kid can cut himself up with a handsaw or mash his
thumb with a hammer but it’s nothing compared to the maiming
force of a machine.

I wouldn’t be inclined to let kids use power tools until
they had hurt themselves several times with handtools, had
alot of splinters, etc… ‘cause you learn proper caution from
minor injuries.

View Hrolfr's profile

Hrolfr

174 posts in 3752 days


#13 posted 12-03-2008 01:14 AM

If this is the story I am thinking of the kid was 6 and the tool was a tablesaw…. the parent saw no fault in the 6yr old using the saw….....

-- Hrolfr

View Josh's profile

Josh

119 posts in 4024 days


#14 posted 12-03-2008 01:29 AM

I’m just now able to let my 12 year old daughter wash the chef knifes. I could not imagine letting her use a table saw. I’m guessing she could handle a jigsaw. I’m all for pushing kids but 6 is a little young to be running a table saw.

View Charles Wilson's profile

Charles Wilson

18 posts in 3857 days


#15 posted 12-03-2008 06:05 AM

Thanks to all that responded. Your thoughts on this subject are in line with common sense and what I think could be termed as reasonable for most people.

When I first read the post that Hrolfr referenced, I could not believe a parent would allow a six year child to operate a table saw no matter how much supervision\help was given.

I too grew up in shops and construction sites and was always taught to respect tools and equipment. I have also had the opportunity to see the results of lack of that respect, fortunately not too often.

My son was never allowed to operate power tools until he had a through understanding and respect for everything in the shop. If memory serves me that was around 12-14 years old, and a few more years of summer helping before the supervision was reduced. I have adult employees that I would not let near machinery without extensive reinforcement of some basic safety rules.

For me the most troubling aspect of this event was that the father believes that because he took his child to the ER and his mangled thumb was repaired, all is better now.

Speaking from first hand experience (pun intended), any hand injury (other than the most minor injury)never is good as new. Bone does not regrow, fingernails don’t always regrow perfectly, scar tissue is not like the skin you were born with.

I am sorry if this is graphic. Safety should be taken very seriously be it a casual hobby or your full time job.

Rant mode off…..............Carefully climbing down from my soapbox.

Charles

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