safety tips

Joined: April 1st, 2006, 10:11 pm

September 16th, 2010, 2:45 pm #1

Over on the Admin Forum, some time ago someone suggested that it'd be good to have a place to collect posts about safety. Originally it was proposed as a full-on safety forum here on the board, but I said I thought that wouldn't draw many readers. (If you don't knap, you probably aren't going to be very interested in picking out the stuff that's relevant to you from among a dozen posts on flint knapping safety, and so on.) So someone else proposed the idea of a safety sticky in each forum, with information specific to that craft. That sounded like a good idea to me, but I never got around to it -- until now.

Please consider this thread a place to talk about safety issues related to our craft, and how you mitigate those dangers (if you do). A few topics that spring to mind:

(1) Respiratory hazards -- in general, and of particular materials. Mainly I'm thinking of sanding and grinding dusts, but toxic fumes and the like are also of concern. (See below.)
(2) Vision hazards. Projectiles and those nasty light frequencies outside the visible spectrum. (And here I'll add something to stir the pot: DIDYMIUM GLASSES PROVIDE VERY LITTLE TO NO PROTECTION AGAINST EYE DAMAGE FROM LOOKING AT A HOT FORGE, SO DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THEM.)
(3) Heat -- preventing burns, and keeping your shop from burning down/blowing up.
(4) Toxic/corrosive/otherwise hazardous materials. How to use them safely, and perhaps responsible disposal of them.
(5) Cuts and other mechanical injuries from our own blades, and from the tools we use to make them.

That's not intended as an exhaustive list.

Have at it!

I'm afraid this thread won't get read and contributed to if it's in the general metal working forum. For now I've just put it in the Bladesmithing sub-forum, because I think almost all of us read this forum. But I may copy it as a sticky to the other sub-forums, too. I need to think about that.
Last edited by The Dad One.paleoplanet69529 on September 16th, 2010, 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mossanimal
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September 16th, 2010, 4:39 pm #2

To start this off.... ALWAYS protect a sharp edge if it's in a vise and sticking out somewhere! I spent 6 months recovering from a very tiny, seemingly innocuous cut to the top of my hand just below the middle finger knuckle from a tomahawk that was edge up in a vise. I barely drug my hand over it and it cut... small but deep. Seemed to small for stitches, but two days later I was moving a table around and the tendon snapped. Turns out I had put a nick in the tendon. Anyway... surgery to re-attach, months of recovery. Thankfully it was my left hand!
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Knifesmith
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September 17th, 2010, 7:38 am #3

As with any dust, you have to he careful. Ceramic/mineral fibers can lead to respiratory cancers (think asbestos), mineral dust can lead to silicosis and other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and there are a large number of woods that are directly toxic, or can lead to allergic sensitization (cocobolo is somewhat famous for this)

Here's a short list of some woods that are toxic. This is by no means inclusive, so when you work with a new wood, please take a few minutes to google the name of the wood with "toxicity" as another keyword.
  • Afromosia: irritant/eye & skin, respiratory/great/dust/rare
  • Alder: irritant/eye & skin, respiratory
  • Angelico: irritant/eye & skin, respiratory/great/dust
  • Arborvitae: irritant/respiratory
  • Ash: irritant/respiratory
  • Baldcypress: sensitizer/respiratory/small/dust/rare
  • Balsam fir: sensitizer/eye & skin/small/dust/rare
  • Beech: sensitizer/respiratory/great/dust/rare
  • Birch: sensitizer/respiratory, nausea/great/dust, wood/rare
  • Black locust: irritant/nausea/great/rare
  • Blackwood: sensitizer/eye & skin/great/dust, wood/common
  • Boxwood: sensitizer/respiratory/small/dust, wood/rare
  • Cashew: sensitizer/eye & skin/great/dust, wood/rare
  • Chechem: irritant/respiratory, eye & skin/great/dust, wood/unknown
  • Cocobolo: irritant/respiratory, eye & skin/great/dust, wood/common
  • Dahoma: sensitizer/respiratory/great/dust/common
  • Ebony: irritant, sensitizer/respiratory, eye & skin/great/dust, wood/common
  • Elm: sensitizer/eye & skin/small/dust/rare
  • Fir: irritant/eye & skin/small/rare
  • Goncolo alves: sensitizer/eye & skin/small/dust, wood/rare
  • Greenheart: sensitizer/respiratory, eye & skin/extreme/dust, wood/common
  • Guarea: sensitizer/eye & skin/extreme/dust/rare
  • Hemlock: nasal cancer/great/dust/rare
  • Ipe: irritant/respiratory, eye & skin
  • Iroko: irritant/respiratory, eye & skin/extreme/dust, wood/common
  • Katon: irritant/respiratory
  • Kingwood: irritant/eye & skin
  • Mahogany, American: sensitizer/respiratory, eye & skin/small/dust/rare
  • Mahogany, African: sensitizer/respiratory/great/dust/rare
  • Makore: irritant/respiratory, eye & skin
  • Mansonia: irritant/respiratory, eye & skin/extreme/dust, wood/common
  • Manzinilla: irritant/respiratory/dust/rare
  • Maple: sensitizer/respiratory/great/dust, wood/rare
  • Mimosa: irritant/nasal/extreme/dust, wood/common
  • Myrtle: sensitizer/respiratory/great/dust, wood/common
  • Oak, red: nasal/great/dust/rare
  • Obeche: sensitizer/respiratory, eye & skin/great/dust/common
  • Olivewood: sensitizer/respiratory, eye & skin/great/dust, wood/common
  • Opepe: sensitizer/respiratory/small/dust/rare
  • Orangewood: respiratory/rare
  • Padauk: irritant/respiratory, eye & skin, nausea/extreme/dust, wood/common
  • Pau ferro: sensitizer/eye & skin/small/dust, wood/rare
  • Peroba rose: sensitizer/respiratory/great/dust, wood/common
  • Peroba white: sensitizer/respiratory, eye & skin
  • Purpleheart: sensitizer/eye & skin, nausea/small/dust, wood/rare
  • Quebracho: nasal cancer/great/dust/rare
  • Ramin: irritant/respiratory, eye & skin/small/dust/rare
  • Redwood: sensitizer/respiratory, nasal cancer/small/dust/rare
  • Rosewood(s): irritant, sensitizer/respiratory, eye & skin/extreme/dust, wood/common
  • Satinwood: irritant/respiratory, eye & skin/extreme/dust, wood/common
  • Sassafras: sensitizer/respiratory, nausea, nasal cancer/small/dust, wood/rare
  • Sequoia: irritant/respiratory, nasal cancer/small/dust, wood/rare
  • Snakewood: irritant/respiratory/great/dust, wood/rare
  • Spruce: sensitizer/respiratory/small/dust, wood/rare
  • Stavewood: irritant/respiratory
  • Sucupira: irritant/respiratory
  • Teak: sensitizer/eye & skin/extreme/dust/common
  • Walnut, black: sensitizer/eye & skin/great/leaves & bark/unknown
  • Wenge: sensitizer/respiratory, eye & skin/great/dust/common
  • Willow: sensitizer/nasal cancer/great/dust/unknown
  • W. redcedar: sensitizer/respiratory, nasal cancer/great/dust/common
  • Yew, Europe: irritant/eye & skin/great/dust/common
  • Zebrawood: sensitizer/eye & skin/great/dust/rare
Also, Matt, I know you posted it somewhere in the past, but can you refresh our collective memories on what eyewear is effective in preventing retinal damage etc... from the UV and IR from forge welding?
Last edited by Knifesmith on September 17th, 2010, 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Eric Dobratz
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Joined: April 1st, 2006, 10:11 pm

September 18th, 2010, 1:05 am #4

There's very little UV produced by gas or solid fuel forges, and polycarbonate lenses block some UV, so what little is produced shouldn't be a problem if you're wearing decent safety glasses. The main threat is IR, which can, over the long term, cause cataracts. The closest OSHA recommendation I can find for our craft is shade 3 welding lenses, which OSHA recommends for gas brazing and light gas cutting. Didymium is designed to block the visible wavelength sodium flare produced by molten glass. They don't block much IR.

Light energy drops very rapidly with distance, so don't hover over your forge. Stand back a little And don't stare into it. Look elsewhere most of the time, with brief peeks to check your steel.

I am not an ophthalmologist, but I do play one on the Internet. More importantly, you can verify all this with a little googling.
Last edited by The Dad One.paleoplanet69529 on September 18th, 2010, 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mossanimal
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September 19th, 2010, 1:13 am #5

Anybody ever pick up something so hot it didn't burn you? I did the other day with wet hands and I could immediately hear the water popping between my fingers and the steel and no burn! Didn't even feel the heat! It formed a vapor barrier between my fingers and steel. The moral? Don't try this at home.

That's good info Matt.... Thanks for that.
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Knifesmith
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October 13th, 2010, 12:22 am #6

This is probably a really stupid one, but ALWAYS clamp metal being drilled in a vise etc... While you may get away with drilling holes in larger pieces of harder material (pin holes in tangs etc...), eventually you'll get bitten when drilling pieces of softer metals (I opened up my finger pretty good drilling some brass for a guard when I was finishing up one of the holes and it caught right as the bit started to punch through). My then GF (now wife), was really ticked because she happened to call right at that moment, and I wouldn't talk to her (she didn't seem to understand the "can't talk, need to stop the bleeding" comment).

Rigidly fixed material being drilled, light pressures, and drilling lubricants are your friends!

And on the "hot material" issue, make sure everyone in your shop knows that just because it's grey doesn't mean it's cool. I've seen enough people reach for a blade cooling on an anvil or firebrick... Always assume that something that could be hot is.

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canid
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October 15th, 2010, 7:37 am #7

i'd like to second that:



the difference between this little injury and loosing part of my finger was an inch or so of my hand placement or an instant of delay in reflex.
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To see more of my bladesmithing and other work; visit CanidArmory, or check us out on Youtube.
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Orien M
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October 29th, 2010, 4:44 pm #8

An angle grinder can be a great time-saver, but can also be VERY dangerous if used carelessly. Wear appropriate protective gear, especially eye protection (I love my leather apron for angle grinding too, saves a lot of holes burned in my shirts!). Check over the wheel you'll be using to make sure it's not cracked; cracked wheels can suddenly explode! Use moderate pressure when cutting, and watch out that the grinder won't be coming in your direction if it catches and wants to "run away". Try to keep cuts in a straight line if possible...attempting too curved a cut almost guarantees a "run away" incident.

On burns, I'd rather be burned (a little, anyway ) by glowing-hot steel, than a piece in the black range. The lower-heat burns go deeper, and hurt much worse! I ALWAYS make a point to warn anyone visiting my shop, that just cause it's black, don't mean it ain't hot...use the tongs to pick it up! I'd also add that you can get burned through gloves, and sometimes pretty bad because (again) the heat has time to penetrate before you notice. I never wear gloves for hot work...working barehanded keeps me more conscious to use the tongs.
My handmade knives and tools on Etsy... http://www.etsy.com/shop/OldSchoolTools
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woodsroamer
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November 27th, 2010, 4:42 am #9

Machinery: Also, when using an angle grinder or any sort of loud power tool it's best to wear ear protection. Long term exposure to an angle grinder, belt sander, grinder etc. can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Medications: This is one that people never think of but certain medications can exacerbate the effects of working with machines especially if you have any sort of accident. For example, medications that suppress the immune system (prescribed for things like arthritis, asthma, various autoimmune diseases) can make even minor cuts life threatening. Other medications can cause transient dizziness or disorientation. The list is quite long so always check with your doctor when prescribed a new medication. Tell your doctor about your hobby or work and explain in detail what you do and what you work with (grinding steel, sanding wood etc.) and make sure that the medication you are taking will not interfere with your work.
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KnuKnapper
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January 21st, 2011, 2:11 pm #10

This might be the wrong forum for this discussion but I figured I would get more replies here. Eric asked me a question in another thread that got me thinking about proper respiratory protection. I figured I would start a thread  to get everyones elses input. So what type of protection do you fellas use when grinding the various materials we deal with?
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Joined: April 1st, 2006, 10:11 pm

January 21st, 2011, 2:31 pm #11

Grinding with power toois -- cartridge respirator with P99 dust filters. Hand sanding -- nothing. Dunno if that's smart or not.
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jamesGIII
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January 21st, 2011, 7:28 pm #12

To help keep the dust down to you can take a cheap box fan,tape an a/c filter over the fan . to keep the dust down.
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toxophileken
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January 21st, 2011, 7:48 pm #13

I use a respirator with replaceable filters when wood working or doing heavy grinding on metal, or even welding (sometimes I forget, especially when welding). I don't think it is as effective as it could be, because my facial hair may inhibit proper fit.

I'd love to get a full face respirator. Eventually, I plan on having coveralls I wear in the garage when wood working (to keep dust from coming in the house with me, for my wife and infant son's sake).

I have a saw dust collector hooked up to my main tools, other than my belt sander (I need to address that. It is on the other side of the shop, so I need to route a hose and make some sort of fixture to hold it in place). I also have a fine particle collector, which honestly could be easily replaced by what James just mentioned.

Note, you can't use your sawdust collector to suck up metal dust, as it can cause a dust explosion!

I use my shop compressor to blow dust out of my garage occasionally, and to blow dust off of my self and out of my hair before I quit working and go in the house.

I always wear hearing protection when working with my belt sander and bandsaw (and obviously with the louder tools). I use eye protection as well, though I could do with some more clear safety glasses...

Last night I cut up some ironwood, and it is the first time I've had much of a reaction to wood (even though I work with Ipe alot). Itchy nose and eyes. A full face respirator would have been very nice!

Ken
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woodsroamer
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January 22nd, 2011, 7:33 am #14

My work area is outside but even so I keep a strong fan blowing across my work bench or chair whether I'm working with wood or metal. I wear a small-particle face mask, eye protection, ear protectors, a floppy hat and a leather apron. I usually wear leather gloves as well. Still, I use power tools less and less these days because of the dust from metalworking or sanding. My woodworking nowadays tends to be with with "wet" wood: bowls, spoons, kuksas etc.. I usually make only woodworking knives (hook and crooked knives) and these are small knives that do not necessarily require the use of power tools. My knives are made specifically for my own woodworking and perhaps I've got enough knives (in drawers and bags and tool boxes) to last a long, long time.

REGARDING ALLERGIC REACTIONS: Remember that an allergic reaction rarely occurs until one has been repeatedly exposed to a particular antigen. Therefore, just because you've worked with a specific wood type and never had a reaction does not mean that you will not have a reaction in the future. Signs of reactions can include anything from itchy eyes and wheezing to welts (urticaria) and severe itching and on to profound respiratory and circulatory collapse leading to sudden death, also known as an anaphylactic reaction. REMEMBER: If you have experienced a mild reaction to wood then further exposures could lead to more severe reactions. So be careful when making those knife handles.  
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jamiemackie
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January 22nd, 2011, 12:39 pm #15

I wear one of the 'twin half-mask' jobbies with two replaceable filters when grinding wood or metal, when using an angle grinder, when working with kaowool etc.
I also wear one when hand sanding woods like cocobolo and other dodgy ones.

One thing to remeber is that if you have facial hair (even shortish stubble) the effectivness of the face masks will be greatly reduced. They rely on a good seal against your face.

Goggles and ear protection are also very important and should be worn when forging as well as all types of grinding. If youve ever met an old blacksmith youl notice that they tend to be pretty much deaf, a hammer striking an anvil makes a pretty loud sound.
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Mossanimal
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January 24th, 2011, 11:43 am #16

3M makes an incredible half-face respirator with the vents placed so that the exhaust goes down and away from your eyes.. helps a ton if you wear glasses. I've never been able to find a mask that I would wear.. but this one is so nice I forget that I even have it on. I wear it probably half or more of everyday I'm in the shop.. whether I need it or not.

Yep... I wear it even when I'm hand sanding.. especially any of the tropical hardwoods.

There are a lot of long-time maker's with missing pieces of lung.

If I remember, I will write the model number down and put it in this thread. I found it from a similar thread started on Blade Forums. It is pretty much the standard for a lot of the makers on that forum.
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KnuKnapper
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January 24th, 2011, 2:09 pm #17

I would appreciate that Scott. Also, did you buy yours online? If so what site?
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Joined: April 1st, 2006, 10:11 pm

January 24th, 2011, 3:14 pm #18

Please do, Scott!

I feel I should add one note here about respirators. An industrial safety guy who I know through various blacksmithing sites always makes the point that wearing respirators can actually be dangerous for those with certain medical problems. OSHA and similar health and safety agencies generally (always?) require a medical screening for anyone who has to wear a respirator for PPE. Here's some info I stole from the Minnesota Department of Health website:
Physiologic effects of respirator use

Pulmonary effects:

increased breathing resistance
increased work of breathing
decreased endurance
decrease in exercise performance

Cardiac effects:

increased cardiac work
increased heart rate
increased blood pressure
Claustrophobia
Anxiety
Hyperventilation

Potential contraindications to respirator use

Severe pulmonary disease
Severe cardiac disease
Uncontrolled hypertension
Claustrophobia
Facial abnormalities that prevent good fit

More here.

Just a word to the wise.
Matt
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Joined: April 1st, 2006, 10:11 pm

January 24th, 2011, 3:15 pm #19

By the way, the same guy recommends HEPA filters.
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Knifesmith
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January 1st, 2012, 10:58 am #20

I know that most of us who use power saws to cut materials for knife making use a bandsaw, but for those who have/use a table saw, consider investing in the following:

http://www.sawstop.com/

http://www.youtube.com/wa...grLE&feature=related

Yeah, most of us fortunately will never need it, but that one time... (just ask my brother-in-law, who recently cut the tip of hid index finger off, and made a nice cut across the other 3 fingers).

And yes, they're REALLY expensive, but less than the cost of significant medical care (or the value of a finger or two).
Last edited by Knifesmith on January 1st, 2012, 11:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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