Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.(Voltaire)

Safety in my shop is also related to my behavior

Preamble :

Above all I am an individual and always work alone. As a consequence I don't have to refer to EU rule about obedience relation, whatever its origin (employment, family, etc... Read there). Despite this fact I comply with EU safety regulations. I don't doubt about their usefullness and necessity and respectability. However I don't read them as a bible but try to figure out their content and boundaries using my common sens as last resort. This last sentence sounds a bit sibyllin but read what follows to get a better understanding of my way : disallowing the use of saw blade on a vertical spindle moulder in order to ripping because there is no way of using riving knife and reducing contact with the blade teeth doesn't ban from using this same saw blade in order to grooving (or tenoning) with suitable guards. These two processes are differents and infering that the second one is not allowed from the first one would be a mistake in my opinion.

Thinking lead :
I assume that I am lucid when working with my tools and aware of the necessity to keep that wakefulness. There is no possibility of reasoning out of that frame. This doesn't mean the continuity and perfection of that lucidity or wakefulness and that fact lead me to get a better understanding and control of my surrounding.
As for the following as well as the whole content of the web site, the documents are primarily quantitative rather than qualitative. In other words it's not up to me to decide what is right or not. Explanations are delivered as a way of thinking without giving any sort of advice. Thus everyone may built its opinion by developing their own answers and solutions to issues often linked to individual behaviour.

My Garage Workshop

The attached photo and drawing describe my workshop and its arrangement far better than I could explain with a thousand of words. Daylight comes from the opened garage door and the aperture in the back wall as well as the skylight. Two rows of fluorescent tubes scatter light without shadow if needed.


Besides and as soon as the weather allows, I open the roof window to improve the dust extraction. Tilting that windows tends to aspire dust outside as a flue does and helps to constantly bring fresh air. 3.75x4m (12x13 ft) meaning about 15 mē (160 sqft) are reserved to accommodate tools and machines and I force myself to use the combination machine only after the car is parked out of the garage. This allows a sheltered length slightly over 9 metres.


In the following drawing, tools and machines are green, dust extraction yellow, light blue, wood storage orange and plywood pink, soundproofing red and lastly furniture is gray. Each square in the picture represents 25x25 cm (10 inches square).


The below electrical diagram explains the remaining.

Electrical Diagram

My Safety Concerns

From that workshop arrangement and the lucidity and wakefulness alleged above, my main safety concerns could be summarized under two titles : "Mad moves" and "Accidents".

"Accidents" (sudden and unexpected cause)

The definition really made me uncomfortable because of the impossibility of guessing all combinations and interactions that may lead to a damaged result. In that context I try to solve the obvious issues with solutions as simple as I can. But a common instance would lead to a better understanding. If you are like me, you probably do not like to sweep. I hate that ! however I am under the impression that the main hazard in my shop would be to lose balance sliding on sawdust. Those having ever sawed mdf, as example, very probably know what I am telling about. I can easily imagine myself when sawing then losing equilibrium and, by reflex, extending my arm to grasp the near machine with the saw blade protruding 100 mm (4 inches) over the top table. Riving knife or not, over blade guard or not, nobody has the ability to control the angle in which the arm would reach the blade teeth. This is the nature of an accident. But what could be the response since there is no perfect guard ? Beyond the need of riving knife and over blade guard, the only way I found to avoid such context is to keep the ground clean and therefore sweeping as often as needed. It is not uncommon for me to clean the near surroundings every 15 minutes and I definitely do not like sweeping because I have a feeling of uselessness. But I have to pay the right price for safety and accept it grudgingly. Besides I sometime set the parallel fence as close as I can to the saw blade. The blade can protrude up to 100mm and the fence, in height position, is 100mm tall (4").

This mindset leads to new behaviours but as strange as it may look also implies unexpected situations... Read the following...

"Mad moves" (almost unconscious gestures made by habit or mania)

They often are at the origin of my instant or retrospective fears. By definition they belong to eachone and dealing with is very hard. Therefore I am going to describe my main concern for the time being and the successful solution I have brought, unless until now. As ever written above I got into the habit of working in a clean workshop and as time goes by I began to clean the sliding carriage with my hand so that the dust fell on the ground. The act, first only performed when the saw was at standstill had naturally extended to the machine running and slowly but surely closer to the saw blade. One day I became aware of the growing danger and that I was likely to experience something bad on the long run. But at this stage, my act was ever far beyond my strict will and I had to use a trick to overcome the problem. I retrieved a fine brush then removed the stick and finally put that accessory near to the machine. Now I remove table sawdust only with that broom, but the temptation remains strong. Nothing is definivetely won about safety, never.

Well, you now know much more about my way as regard safety in the workshop. What I write on the forums is related to that content. I made that document so that giving an explanation and a background to my choices and avoiding to justify in details each contribution on the subject.

Best Regards