Woodworking is one hobby that a lot of men are really fond of. Through it, they are able to create nice pieces that are useful not only to them but also to other members of their family. Wooden study tables, chairs, bookshelves, bed frames of different sizes – these are just some of the items that can come out of an avid woodworker’s workshop.
Welding, on the other hand, deals with different types of metals. Like woodworking or carpentry, this task also requires fair attention to detail. The welder must be strict with measurements. They should also be mindful of the type of metal that they use. Usually, the heavier ones are used at the base so that they can provide support and foundational structure.
Even so, welding still attracts a lot of hobbyists not only because it produces a lot of useful things such as window grills and artistic handrails, but it is also a skill that can spur a lucrative career especially in the industries where metal reigns supreme.
No matter how useful woodworking and welding are, anyone who does them assumes a level of risk. If you happen to be fond of one or both, it is very important that you are aware of some important safety precautions. While both are very different activities, they do have their similarities. In industrial settings both have large industrial dust collectors that collect off cuts and small particles, but at any level there is a need to follow safety precautions and use protective equipment. One of the things that you should not skip is the wearing of the appropriate protective gear when you are in the workshop. We discuss some of the most important pieces here.
Gloves are universal safety item. People from a lot of industries wear gloves to protect their hands from a variety of things. Surgeons and other medical professionals use them to protect themselves from bloodborne pathogens. Fisherfolk sometimes use them to protect themselves from extreme temperatures and sharp objects that can cut or puncture them. Butchers use gloves, especially those that are made of metal mesh, so as to protect their fingers from getting sliced by the extraordinarily sharp tools that they handle.
Of course, like any piece of clothing, the gloves that you wear must fit well to function properly. Discount gloves that are too large or too small put you in unnecessary danger, and they surely are not moneysavers! The large ones might be too loose to allow for more precise movements, which may be required especially when you start working on delicate pieces. The small ones might hug your hand too much, causing insufficient blood flow.
Aside from the size, another thing that you should be mindful of when you use safety gloves is the material that they are made of. Woodworker’s gloves are usually made of metal mesh, canvas, and leather. These materials are really helpful in protecting the hands from the sharp tools that litter a woodworker’s workshop. Canvas is resistant to heat, so it’s also the material used to create gloves for welders.
A hobbyist who enjoys woodworking and welding surely knows what to wear inside the workshop. Pants and long-sleeved shirts are going to be the norm inside it. However, even if such clothing items already provide a certain level of protection, there is still a need for a little reinforcement. Wearing aprons is the answer.
Aprons for welding are usually made of leather. This material is the ideal because it is heat resistant, so it does not cause discomfort even when the worker is exposed to flare and fire for a long period of time. Also, leather does not easily catch fire; so even if it gets all the sparks from the welding work, the welder (and his clothes) is kept safe.
A carpenter’s apron is a lot lighter. It is usually made of polyester fabrics. What makes it special is the fact that it is often equipped with front pockets where the woodworker can place tools such as the chisel and some small saws. The pockets are useful especially when the shop is a bit large. Because of them, the worker won’t have to go back and forth just to get the tools that he needs. He can just bring them wherever he goes.
Face shields are helpful to woodworkers especially when the work uses lathes. Chips of wood might come flying into their faces, hurting their eyes or distracting them from the work that they do. We also know how distractions can be dangerous especially when we are around sharp objects.
Welders also make use of face shields to protect themselves from sparks that fly as they melt the metal for the piece that they are working on. Other headgear available to welders are hard hats, welding helmets, and helmet beanies.
Some welding helmets are so advanced that they are equipped with digital lenses that enhance the wearer’s color recognition capacities as they work. This is important, especially since the work that a welder does requires precision and sharp attention to detail.
Although wearing face shields already provides effective eye protection, manufacturers still develop products that protect only the eyes. This is because some workers and hobbyists find headgears bulky and heavy. Instead of keeping them safe, they report that such bulky gear ends up distracting them and making them feel a bit uncomfortable.
Eye protection items are usually only as large as a pair of sunglasses, so they are really very handy and very easy to put on and remove. But don’t be fooled by their appearance. Such items are still very effective in keeping out dust and other flying debris. For welders, the lenses are colored or tinted so as to protect them from the brightness of the torch.
As your skill becomes more and more advanced, you might start acquiring power tools to make your work faster and much more precise. While power tools are really good at what they are designed to do, they have one very big downside and that is the noise that they produce.
Being concerned with noise is valid. The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders or NIDCD recognizes the existence of noise-induced hearing loss. According to this government agency, this type of hearing loss is not only caused by abrupt loud sounds such as gunshots or an explosion, it can also be caused by a prolonged exposure to noise, even if it is several decibels lower than an explosion. The prolonged exposure can cause the sensitive structures in the inner ear to continually vibrate, which can damage them permanently.
To protect your hearing from the loud sounds that power tools produce, it is recommended that you wear ear plugs. If you find plugs to be a bit uncomfortable, a good alternative will be ear muffs. Some people even say that ear muffs work better for them.
Working with wood and metal is truly fulfilling for many. These hobbies, however, pose certain risks; safety is something that we should not just take for granted. We must follow safety precautions, even if sometimes following them becomes a bit of an inconvenience. Wearing an apron takes time. Headgear is heavy. Gloves can feel very awkward at first, even if they are of the right size. But one thing’s for sure, going through such little hassles of wearing the appropriate safety gear is going to be a lot better than nursing an injury.