Tech Talk: Lessons Learned with the Use and Safety of Tools

“What is one lesson you have learned related to the use and safety of tools on the jobsite?”

Lenny Hall – Endurance Floor Co.

After three lessons and a tremendous amount of luck, I still have my left thumb, fully functional. The injuries were:

  • Laceration of the two extensor tendons from trying to sweep debris covering
    the dust port of a running (yes, I know!) table saw.
  • Laceration through the back of the thumb from running a router one-handed while holding the workpiece in the other hand (dumb!).
  • Fourteen stitches from a freshly sharpened chisel, again, working with one hand holding the workpiece and the other holding the chisel.

I can’t express enough how critical it is to work with care and safety in mind before you suffer a potentially life-changing injury. As I said, I was extremely lucky. Now, I don’t work tired or unfocused. I don’t work one-handed and always find a way to secure my workpieces. I always move chisels away from my body. As a regular daily routine, I wear hearing protection, eye protection, knee pads, and latex gloves when coating and spreading adhesive, and I work in a very clean and organized space. Your body is your biggest asset. Protect it with all your might!

Terry Patton – NWFA

The one lesson that I still tell others is not to get too comfortable with using your table saw. I have seen flooring installers get so comfortable with their table saw that they come close to losing a finger or end up badly injured. I had a close encounter with a table saw one time. I was doing repeated cuts, switched the table saw off, and reached for a piece that was too close to the blade. Luckily, the saw blade was slowing down, but it still left a pretty good gash in my finger. So, don’t get too comfortable with your saws!

Mike Somodean – MSCS Inc.

One thing I have figured out is to use the best tool for the job, and to use the tool the way it was designed to be used. As a trade, we tend to be very resourceful. Sometimes you use the tool closest to you or the tool that is handy, instead of going to get the right tool for the job, whether it’s literally or metaphorically. However, sometimes being resourceful and thinking outside of the box can work against you. In my situation, I have had way better – and safer – results when I take the time to properly set up, and get the proper tool for the job.

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