Safety: Best Practices

Not really relevant, but made me think of something. I was reading an old “handyman’s” book, and it had a recipe for making paint. For a gallon of paint you started with 2 lbs. of lead. I don’t remember the rest of the ingreadeiants, but I finally started to get why lead paint was so bad.

I think most safety procedures related to the X-Carve (and any power tools) is just applying common sense,
You should never leave the X-Carve unattended whilst cutting. If you can’t be in the same room then check on it regularly (I’ll set up a web cam for mine so I can still watch it from the house).
No special power circuit should be necessary, it’s not as if it draws a large amount of current.
Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are a good idea even if you don’t have an X-Carve. :grin:

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I think it is wise to have a smoke detector and fire extinguisher in any woodworking shop.

I would never leave the house with with any cutting tool running, but sometimes I do walk down the hall where I can still hear it.

I always wear safety glasses and hearing protection when the X-Carve is running. I was using the original SO2 shortly after assembly without wearing eye protection and a chunk of wood hit me in the forehead, I considered that a warning.

I wish I had been wearing gloves when I sliced my finger loading my new 1/4 inch 3 flute end mill into the collet. I still don’t wear gloves, but I am much more carefull.

I have the X-Carve plugged into a 20 amp circuit because all the outlets in the shop are 20 amp.

I would not wear a necktie in the shop (or any other loose fitting clothes.

@AngusMcleod, I know in some ways your kidding, but that’s a great way to broach the subject…

I think that “safety” can be divided into at least three categories (i.e. operator safety, machine safety and project safety). I’ve seen/done violations that can affect all three…

  1. For your standard operator safety: Are you machining something that gives off toxic dust or smoke? Can chips get in your eyes while your vacuuming, etc.?

  2. For machine safety: Are chips going to clog the rails, overload the motors and cause damage to the belts or motors? Is your plunge rate, depth of cut, feed rate, etc. going to break a bit, burn out your spindle, plow through clamps, screws or slam into your limit switches, etc.?

  3. For project safety: Is your plunge rate, depth of cut, feed rate going to damage the work piece, create serious chip-out/blow out, cause your work piece to slip,etc.?

I’ve seen people vacuuming up while it’s still cutting and get the hose nozzle fouled in the bit. I’ve seen people use compressed air to clean off the table and blow crap into everybody’s eyes, etc.

The best rule is to be smarter than the machine. The First Rule of Robotics is still just science fiction…


Fire extinguisher and smoke detector, definitely a must. Hot metal shavings or hot broken bit tips can land in sawdust, or maybe you accidentally let the genie out of the spindle or controls and it starts a fire. There’s a million ways to start a fire, sometimes stupidity comes into play and sometimes not, but consider the cost of everything that can burn down vs. the cost of an extinguisher. Old metal shed? Meh. Garage attached to the house? A bit more to lose there.

I wear my radio earmuffs since the noise is obnoxious, and should wear the safety glasses more than I do. I’ve been nailed in the chin with a broken bit tip, fortunately the beard kept it from getting through. There was actually a gouge in the hair though, scary to think of what could have happened if it hit my eye. I’ve also blown chips and dust in my eyes when blowing out the carved path, because apparently I’m an idiot. :smile:

I’m not to the point where I’m comfortable being away from the machine for more than a few minutes at a time, and I usually have the garage door open and panic whenever the sound changes. If/when I install true limit switches and verify they work, I’ll feel better. For now, it’s just a few minutes here, a few there, and running inside like someone is dying whenever it starts carving a new section.

If your hands are within a foot of the cutter, pay full attention and know 100% where the bit is going to go. I’ve gouged my vacuum nozzle because the cutter zigged when I thought it would zag. Lost a few steps, 6 hours into an 8 hour project, pissed me off big time. Kept my fingers though, so I figure I broke even.

I don’t wear gloves, I just try to be careful. I’ve poked myself and drawn blood at least 5 times using the V bits when trying to take them out, but I chalk that up to me being an idiot again.

As for fuse size, I have 15A circuit breakers in the garage, but I run the vacuum and X-Carve off different circuits.

Lead. That’ll mess you up, lots of interesting stories of people in history hurting themselves. Lead dust will go everywhere and will make reselling the house difficult (and potentially make your workshop a legally hazardous/contaminated site), I wouldn’t do it unless you have some damn good engineering controls in place.

Shorts. If I wore shorts, I would wear them in there. It’s a power tool, you’re a big boy, you can do your own hazard and risk analysis. Just don’t record yourself wearing shorts, nobody wants to see that. :slight_smile:

Eye protection. I say this, but I don’t actually do the right thing - I use one of these without goggles:

These aren’t supposed to be a replacement for goggles, but I wear glasses and goggles are a pain. (If anyone knows about safety googles that go on over glasses easily, I’d love a link).

Being a Volunteer Firefighter for over 33 years, all you need to start a fire is - Heat, Fuel and Oxygen, so I myself try not to leave the room when carving something. Heat from the bit and fuel from the saw dust. Not sure how that’s going to pan out for longer carves so will have to wait and see. Just kidding here but might have to install a sprinkler system like the restaurants over the cook tops.

Eye protection whenever you’re in the workshop. No ifs or buts or maybe’s.

Hearing protection whenever the machine is running (as someone with industrial deafness, I can vouch for how much this sucks). Again, this is mandatory.

Power should be off to the spindle whenever your hands are entering the machine’s footprint. I’ve seen some terrible workshop injuries, a couple of which were done with quite small bits of machinery.

The issue of hand protection is a little different.
Hand protection should be used whenever you handle anything that has (or could have) splinters or sharp edges. Particularly so for work fresh off the machine.
Having said this however, I’m really not a fan of wearing gloves near rotating equipment. This escalates to NEVER using gloves on a lathe, drill press, pedestal grinder, mill etc.ditto for loose clothing, ties, loose sleeves etc.

No rings, watches or other hand & arm jewellery and long hair must be tied back and under a cap.

Dust extraction or control is important, less so for woods, but many manufactured items are nasty if you’re breathing their dust, fumes or breakdown products (for example MDF).

Yes, I’m a safety nazi. I’m also a person who’s worked in the mining industry for a lifetime and have seen some really nasty things. Nasty things that were sometimes triggered by the most mundane or trivial reasons.

Safety isn’t something that you do “when it’s dangerous”. Make it a habit.

Ok, I’m off my soapbox…

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Chris, you just became famous :yum:

David, Stay on your Safety soapbox as long as you want. Having been injured by a stupid coworker and having spent a short time in the coal mining industry where I had to help survey a fatal mine accident, I have to agree with everything you said.

Operating checklist here:

I’ve always regretted not convincing Inventables to include foam ear plugs along w/ the safety glasses included w/ the SO2 full kit.