Shop Safety

"You only have one pair of eyes and they have to last you a life time"
(Master Atar Bakhtar, from volume one of his two volume video tape series on Forging Damascus Blades)

Please check back often. This page will be updated with the safety procedures for new tools and techniques, as I introduce them to this site. This page was last updated 02/04/2002

Safety Equipment


Eye Protection

    There is no more important rule of shop safety, then to always wear eye protection. And, it's important to wear the correct eye protection for the job you are doing.
    The most common form of eye protection is safety glasses. Get a good set, they aren't expensive and are cheap compared to the cost of damage to your eyes. Make sure they have impact resistant lenses and eye shields on the sides. Use these glasses anytime you are using wood or metal working tools. 
    Next is a face shield, which can be used instead of safety glasses for some operations. However, when using a wood lathe, you should use a face shield AND safety glasses. A face shield costs a little more than safety glasses, but if you are going to do a lot of shop work, you really should have one.
    Tinted safety glasses are used for welding, forge work and glass work. Be sure to get the correct rating for the work you are doing. These are best purchased at welding supply stores. They are designed to filter out harmful inferred and ultraviolet rays. They should also be impact resistant and have eye shields on the side to protect the eyes from flying hot metal, flux, slag or glass.

Filtered Breathing Mask

    Shop work produces a number of different breathing hazards. Wood working produces fine dust that could cause Black Lung and other breathing problems. Also, some hard woods contain toxic oils. Wood finishes, paint and some glues are also toxic. Like wise welding and brazing can produce toxic gasses. A well ventilated work shop and a filtered breathing mask can protect your lungs from these hazards. For your own safety get a good quality mask and wear it any time there are vapors or fine particles in the air. A good mask does not mean one of those paper things you get at the paint supply store.  Get a rubber mask that covers you nose and mouth. Make sure it has replaceable screw in filter cartridges. 


    Many operations will require you to wear gloves. Any time you hands are near a grinding or buffing wheel, wear heavy leather gloves. If you make accidental contact with the grinding or buffing surface, they may give you enough time to pull back before you grind off part of your hand.
    Also get a set of good welding gloves if you are going to weld or do forge work. They should have a nice long leather cuff to protect the back of your hand and lower arm, from hot metal, flux or slag. Remember to ditch the gloves if they contact any extremely hot substances. The gloves only buy you time to react. The gloves will still get hot enough to burn your hands after a time.


    It's important to wear the proper clothes when you are in the shop. Do not wear loose or baggy clothes around power tools. Also make sure your clothes are made of natural fibers. Man made fibers can melt and burn. And when they do, they can melt on to your skin, causing a severe burn. And, don't forget your feet. Wear closed toe shoes and socks. This will provide some protection from dropped tools or project pieces. If you can, wear leather shoes or boots for more protection.

Shop Apron

   Last but not least of the shop protection you wear is an apron. If you are welding, doing forge work or any other type of hot metal work, you should wear a leather apron. For wood work and grinding a heavy canvas apron will do. An apron protects you and your clothes from flying wood and metal bits.

Shop Safety Procedures


A Note About Welding and Brazing

   A number of the projects on this site require that you weld or braze metal. Welding and brazing present many safety hazards.  Use of an Oxygen/Acetylene welding rig can result in a fire or an explosive situation. Any welding rig can produce hot metal spatter. Likewise any welder can produce toxic gasses, depending the flux and/or the metal alloys being welded. Please seek training in how to use the type of welding equipment you plan on using. Make sure you weld in a well ventilated area. Wear the proper eye protection for the type of welding you are doing. Wear welders gloves and a leather apron. Last, make sure the surface you are welding on is fire proof and can withstand the heat generated by welding.

A Note About Shop Ventilation

   I covered ventilation to some extend above (with breathing masks), but; the addition of a forge as well as the above information on welding prompted me to write this section. Asphyxiation is one of the hidden dangers in the shop. Extreme weather, either hot or cold, may temp you to close up the shop and run the heating or air conditioning . Go ahead and run your heating  or air conditioning, but leave your shop open. You must have some sort of cross flow ventilation in your shop.  One open door or window is not enough to allow for the exchange of air.
    Both the welder and the forge consume oxygen in the air. The forge to a much larger extent, then the welder. They also use fuels which can explode or asphyxiate if not cleared out by cross ventilation. Many paints and other finishes also produce noxious fumes. Ventilation is required in addition to the breathing mask listed in the safety equipment above.

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