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Gotta Respect that Drill Press


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A little contribution to the dark side of rod making. Over the years there have been a number of times that one incident or another in the shop has made me think of a missive, but this particular error on my part is especially noteworthy as I repeat it time and again.

For some reason I don't have the respect for my fifteen inch, one horse drill press that I do for just about every tool I have ever worked with. This may stem from the fact that I have run huge lathes, knee grinders, rotary files, radial arm drills and any number of other tools that keep your attention rapt.

My little shop drill press has bitten me a number of times in the past, nothing very serious - a bruise or the loss of a little skin. I do most of my rod work early in the morning before I go to the paying job. Yesterday I decided to start on an idea I want to try for a winding check made from antler. I cut  a quarter inch chunk from the base of an antler, slicing through one of the protrusions that are to be found there. My drill press is right next to the band saw so I was there in a flash with the short piece of antler with the razor like protrusion. I am sure everyone has guessed the outcome by now, at 600 rpm's the 5/16" drill made it about half the way through the piece of antler before I became the object of another tool with a rapidly spinning razor blade.

Once again I was lucky, the nick on my thumb and the really neat slice through all of the skin on my left index finger were not serious enough that I couldn't take the three steps, that I should have in the first place, for a channel lock wrench to hold the antler and finish drilling. In cleaning up I missed a dime sized drop to blood that I am tempted to leave on the table of the drill press to help me garner a little more respect in the future.  (Steve Trauthwein)

    It doesn’t take more than about 1/10 of a second of inattention on any power tool and they can (and will) bite you.  I have a friend who says his father cut off a finger tip on a band saw, another professional carpenter lost most of a finger in a jointer, and a fellow I worked with got his pinky ring caught in a machine and lost the finger. 

    I sometimes think guards and such are more dangerous than having an exposed blade because you get to expecting the guard to protect you.

    Eternal vigilance is the price of safety, and *I* think it helps to be a little bit afraid of your power tools.  (Neil Savage)

      Being afraid of tools is a good philosophy.  Same with cars.  A friend recently acquired a Porsche Carrera Turbo, naturally, I could not wait to get behind the wheel and turn it loose on I-75.  Mid morning, almost no traffic and there is a stretch of about 5 miles straight as an arrow, 6 lanes, between here and Chattanooga.  Hit the onramp and floored it, the turbo kicked in and snapped our necks, over 100 entering the traffic lane. At 155 I backed off and it was still climbing fast, just shifted into 5th.  He was to be out of town on business and offered to let me have it for 3 days. Told him that as just enough time for me to get comfortable with it through the mountains, and that is when you get killed!  He didn't understand; maybe I was crazy to turn him down, but not crazy enough to accept!  That was 3 months ago; last week he traded the car - for the same reason!

      Same with tools; I sliced the tip of one finger off with a router, healed back; then shaved the tips of 2 on the table saw.  Both times were finishing up projects, tired and trying to rush.  It just don't work.  (Carey Mitchell)

    Glad you didn't lose anything important, Steve! These little reminders serve a very useful function to my way of thinking. We all deal with tools to some extent, and some complacency is almost impossible to avoid. I think that reading some of these reminders helps to reinforce that little voice that tells us we are headed down a slippery slope. I wish I could treat everything the way I do my table saw, I have a healthy dose of respect for it, and never fail to look at what I am getting ready to do. If I did that with everything, I'd have avoided a few scars over the years. Case in point... I have carried a knife since I was about 6 years old, and damned near took off a fingertip last month, doing nothing more dramatic than closing it to put it away,  of all things.  (Larry Blan)

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