I have just finished a bowl turning course; my first lathe work. The
instructor is very casual about safety; he says that is reasonable, since no
one ever get hurt on a lathe. I wonder how true that is.
I read through the website on woodworking injuries, and there aren't many
lathe injuries reported. The main problem seems to be the work breaking
apart at high speeds. Does that happen much?
A number of people recommended full face shields. I have one, but it is
pretty thin flexible plastic; I don't expect it would help much against a
high speed chunk of wood. I looked up a few websites (amazon, hartsville,
woodcraft) and they just sell ones like mine, except mine has a metal frame.
Is there something better, or is it strong enough?
I am the only person wearing a dust mask, and it gets pretty dirty after a
He's got to be a complete moron to make such an irresponsible and inaccurate
Probably because lathes are not as widely used as table saws, bandsaws,
Yes, especially with inexperienced turners. Sufficiently heavy catches can
also break tool rests and steel turning tools. Other dangers include loose
clothing, jewelry, and long hair getting caught on the workpiece or spindle.
Even though it's fairly thin, the shield has a radius to it, so a flying
object is more likely to be deflected away than result in a full-force
impact as a flat surface would.
I personally find dust masks annoying and don't use them much, but I often
pay for it with a couple hours of coughing and sneezing afterwards. Other
turners take dust more seriously and wear breathing apparatus resembling
full hazmat suits.
There's a maxim I've heard: "Never chuck anything on a lathe that you
wouldn't want to get hit in the head by", or something like that. Those
thin faceshields can do a pretty fair job of deflecting/dissipating
most of the energy of a thrown workpiece, but I still wear safety
glasses under my shield. Call me chicken. Tom
Wed, Nov 29, 2006, 4:46am (EST+5) snipped-for-privacy@Yahoo.com (Toller) doth
I have just finished a bowl turning course; <snip>
Sounds like your instructor is an idiot.
You should be asking woodturning questions at
news:rec.crafts.woodturning instead of here.
I wear a face shield. It's better than nothing if a piece lets
loose, and it keeps the small bits off your face and out of your eyes.
I wear a dust mask too, because it's dusty.
Democratic justice. One man, one rock.
I've been working with wood for my whole life, and seriously, as in
furniture making, for the last six or seven years, as a hobby. I bought a
lathe 18 months ago, and have turned some interesting pieces, bowls, etc.
up to 14" in size.
I had a nasty catch a couple of days after Labor Day, and the scraper
managed to catch me in the left hand, at the base of the second finger. I
wore a major bandage for 6 weeks, and only in the last couple of weeks have
I been comfortable wearing my wedding ring again. The scar doesn't show
Nobody ever gets hurt, but I did. And I was very lucky that's all that
happened. I nearly passed out from the shock.
BTW, the bowl is still mounted on the lathe. It's finished now, but it's
still out there.
Toller, head on over to rec.crafts.woodturning and check out the
group. More than you could imagine about woodturning over there, and
some really stellar turners. Many are very generous with their time
and ideas and some have gotten to be friends (the kind that drink
coffee!) over the years. Lots of talk about injuries from time to
time; some serious, and some just scare the crap out of you.
I turn a lot on Jet minis, and when I get going on a turning jag, I
might turn for a few hours a day, 5 days a week. This nonsense has
been going on for several years. Two years ago I was deep hollowing
(yup.. entire possible on a Jet mini) when my bowl gouge caught on a
twisty piece of grain I had uncovered by peeling away the insides of
the vessel. It rolled the gouge over and smashed my finger so hard I
thought it was broken. It turned kinda black and hurt like hell, but
that was it. My wrist was sore for about a week.
Flying wood has shot off the lathe (for different reasons) at such
great velocity that it has left the lathe and embedded in the garage
wall. I have had smaller pieces leap to their freedom (only to find
themselves in the burn pile) and not hit the deck for about 15 feet.
According the the spinners on that group, you can achieve aboutg 70 mph
of velocity under the right conditions, and the have the math to prove
it. I believe them.
So how would your instructor react to being hit in his unprotected face
with a piece of rough, spinning wood weighing a few POUNDS going 70
mph? If you persue this, you should join local club. They will help
you keep straight.
Always wear a dust mask, even a paper N95 is better than nothing. You
will be standing right over your work all the time breathing wood dust.
Always wear a full face mask. The ONLY time I wear goggles is when it
is my turn to demo, or if I am teaching. No other time.
And as far as no one getting hurt... click the link in the message
below and see what you think. Many thanks to Owen Lowe, who tracked
this down for us.
Pacific Northwest Woodturning Guild
Tips fer Turnin': Place a sign, easily seen as you switch on your
lathe, warning you to remove any and all rings from your fingers.
Called degloving, extended hardware can grab your ring and rip it off
your finger. A pic for the strong of stomach:
Just a follow up. The pic didn't happen while a guy was turning, but
stories abound in the spinning community of things like that. No
watches, rings or hair should be hovering around an object spinning at
I can be breathtaking to just freehand a tool into something like
that... imagine getting caught...
- unless the instructor is dangerous. Sounds like yours was.
You're holding a sharp tool, applying it to a spinning piece of
wood of uncertain soundness, turned by a quarter horse to
a horse and a half and you've probably got chips of wood
or ribbons of wood flying around. That's if the piece of wood
starts out balanced and you've got the rpms below where things
start to vibrate or rock around. Does this sound like a place
to be careless and assume you're completely safe, no matter
what you do?
Check to obituaries. Look for man killed from blunt trauma - may
include unexplained discovery of large chunk of wood on the dented
hood of the car in the driveway and the mysterious hole in the garage
Haven't turned above 1200 rpms so I have no personal experience
Probably lexan or other polycarbonate - pretty unbreakable unlike
regular plastic. Protects your eyes from flying wood chips and
could distribute the force or a larger flying piece of wood.
I don't use a face shield often but that's because I've got a mini/
midi lathe (JET) and my glasses are polycarb. A face shield if
you don't want to wear safety glasses would be a good idea.
Getting a chip out of your eye ain't always easy.
Maybe, but the smart one, unlike myself.
Certainly people can and do get hurt on a lathe, especially if they
wear loose-fitting clothing. Now a lathe itself isn't going to cut
your arm off, but it can certainly cause serious bruising, fractures
and even breaks if your sleeve gets caught when it's spinning and
pulls you into the work.
That's probably more of a concern than bodily damage, having a piece
come apart at high revolutions and hit you. A face shield is
manditory when using a lathe and I'd recommend a dust mask, at least
when working with materials that might be toxic or hazardous (I do it
all the time, but that's just me.)
Most of the shields out there are strong enough to withstand small
pieces of wood hitting them at high speed. I've seen some really
extreme shields, made of thick Lexan and the like, but I think that's
probably overkill for most people's needs.
And as far as dust masks go, I wear these a lot, from many different
manufacturers, but all made for people leaning over an ugly cesspool of
germs and ground, powdered bone and amalgam.
At 7 cents each, there really isn't much of an excuse for not wearing
Sometimes I wear 3 or 4 a day, so I buy them 200 at a time. Almost all
of those guys on Ebay have lot of those masks so just contact them and
ask for more at the same price.
If you like those, get the ones that have ear loops, and make sure they
have a wire nose clip. I have found that they are not nearly as hot as
my 3m dustmasks that I buy for the guys.
You need to look at the N95 paper masks. We use them to work around TB
patients. They don't gap around the edges at all.... rather they are shaped and
they have a flexible nose bridge that you squeeze to form a fit.
If they won't let TB in, I doubt they'll let dust in either.
"Mortimer Schnerd, RN" <mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com> wrote in message
Not to mention, they're really cheap when the staff's not looking!
People seem to get hung up on the sieve theory of filtration, which isn't
really what's happening here. If the dust hits a fiber, there's enough fuzz
and too little vacuum to have it go further. That's why you see a faint
trace of dust around where your smile gaps open the mask. Also why silt
precipitates in slow water.
Not to mention that dust particles have to enter into your nasopharyngeal
cavity, which is equipped with hair to cause turbulence, mucous to trap
anything, and cilia to take out the trash.
It's fumes, not cellulose you should be concerned with. Or in the case of
wood, the poisonous extractives the tree uses to fight off critters, fungi,
and bacteria that want to eat it. Dust carries or contains them.
Of course, these problems are not unique to lathes, and are actually much
less of a problem than with many other tools in the shop.
Basically, you are correct, fumes and "critters" are the bigger problem,
compared to "simple" dust, however, as someone suffering from
COPD/emphysema, I'll take every bit of protection from dust that I can.
While the nose is pretty good at filtering out the crap, it's not perfect
and if I'd been more careful in my younger days with using dust masks, I
might not have the COPD now...or at least, might not have it as bad or as
soon as I did.
Use a dust mask...it's not THAT hard to do, is it?
Try the "DustBeGone" mask. It's a little spendy, but it'll be the last dust
mask you'll ever buy. I've had mine for 12-15 years and it still works fine.
Also, it won't fog my glasses, doesn't warm my face as much as the paper
masks, and is easier to breath through. The last two comments are of course
my subjective experience, but every other user I've talked to says the same
No, I have no interest in the company :-).
It's turtles, all the way down
Others have expressed themselves quite succinctly regarding the sagacity
of your instructor and I fully concur with them.
But let me add a short note on lung protection.
I have a shop-built air cleaner that I calculate (back of the lunch bag
numbers) filters my shop air roughly 3 times a minute. Yeah ... that's a
pretty noticeable breeze! I have a stack of three filters. The first is
a normal 79 cent furnace filter that grabs stuff that would have settled
out of the air if I weren't stirring it up so much. The second, a 5
micron filter, gets the air clean-looking ... that is, if it was the
final filter, I'd be fooled into thinking that my air was clean. The
third filter is rated to pass nothing bigger then 0.3 microns. Thats
smaller than dust. Smaller than bacteria. Smaller, even, than some viruses.
With that much air filtration, you'd think that dirty air would be the
least of my concerns, eh?
But I still wear a 1/2 mask respirator (~$26 at Harbor Freight) because
I am closer to where the dust is generated than the filter is ... so my
lungs get first dibs on it.
There is an older carpenter that I know. He provided well for his family
and retired with a workshop bigger than my house and yard combined. But
he never wore so much as a dust mask.
He's doing well to get 2 or 3 words out between coughs.
Lathe work generates a lot of dust to go with the shavings.
You do the math.
Political Correctness relies on the presumption that it is possible to
pick up a turd by the clean end. -- Me, 2006
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