Rule #1 (not what you think)

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Blog entry by Lifesaver2000 posted 10-27-2012 02:56 AM 1495 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A lot has been written about safety in the workshop. We all know there is no more important rule than to wear safety glasses. Breathing protection, hearing protection, blade guards, riving knives and many other things are mentioned repeatedly. But tonight I just happen to be in the mood to talk about MY number ONE safety rule: when to not go in to the shop.

As may be deduced from my username and avatar, my work often has me up at all hours of the day and night. So it should be no surprise that on the day when I (finally) get home, I am often not, shall we say, “well rested.” The problem is I often have a project that I have been thinking about or something that I’ve been working on that I want to get back to as soon as I get home. Today was one of those days.

The thing is, I am just smart enough to know that working with sharp and often rapidly spinning objects on less than half of a normal night’s sleep is just not a good idea. I know some are thinking that I could just do hand tool work on these days, but for me at least, not having a power cord doesn’t mean not dangerous. And once I am out there, the temptation to fire up the saw “just to make that one cut” could be too great, especially in a state of sleep-deprived poor judgement.

So, today was one of those days to catch up on some woodworking videos, clean up the picture frame clamp someone gave me (it was in the house, so no temptations) and just generally try to stay out of trouble. Sure, I could have taken a nap, but the problem with that is that I would not be able to sleep tonight (can you say “viscous circle?).

So, here I am, writing this nonsense because I’m too tired to know better, but hoping someone may learn that the most important safety device in the shop is a clear, well-rested brain.

11 comments so far

View patron's profile


13668 posts in 3902 days

#1 posted 10-27-2012 03:05 AM

good advice here

thanks for the reminder

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3670 days

#2 posted 10-27-2012 03:09 AM

I work the midnight shift, so understand where you come from in regards to lack of sleep. Changing shifts made me uptight for quite a while. It felt like I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do and that my time was spent solely on things I had to do. So I understand the temptation to work on something when my mind is not there. I have been trying a new method of just biting the bullet, getting what sleep I can, and try and get an hour, at least, in the shop to do single tasks. This way I am not a zombie when working on things and am still making steady progress on the project at hand.

Good advice,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View DIYaholic's profile


19883 posts in 3236 days

#3 posted 10-27-2012 03:11 AM

I follow that rule myself. I’m often too tired and/or sore, after a day at work, to feel comfortable working around “sharp spinny things”. So I end up here on LJs. Not a bad alternative…..

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3597 days

#4 posted 10-27-2012 11:37 AM

I don’t work in the shop when I’m tired or under the influence of alcohol (substitute you drug of choice here).

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Dave's profile


157 posts in 3758 days

#5 posted 10-27-2012 11:41 AM

Great post! As a hobbyist this is my number one rule too. It literally cuts my shop time in half but it also saves me from ruining a lot of perfectly good wood. I can’t measure worth a #^%* when I’m tired. Instead of risking my fingers and screwing up my projects, I often use that time to straighten up the shop and organize things so my “up-time” is more productive.

-- "I'm not afraid of heights. I'm afraid of widths." - Steven Wright

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 3397 days

#6 posted 10-27-2012 12:28 PM

I keep things that need sanding lying around till I’m too tired. There is a chance I’ll take a little skin off with a ros but I think I’m safe enough. It also gives me time to apply finish.

-- A posse ad esse

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2751 days

#7 posted 10-27-2012 02:26 PM

i work between 12-14 hours daily and i’m beat when i get to get anything done i try to sand projects or clean.sometimes i just pick a day when i’m not feeling so tired then i’ll do cuts,but if i start to mess up i’ll call it a day.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3629 days

#8 posted 10-27-2012 02:50 PM

This is my top rule also. More apt to make mistakes or get injured thus do not get much done except to create a problem or make a mess.

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View a1Jim's profile


117785 posts in 4138 days

#9 posted 10-27-2012 03:06 PM

This point about not having enough sleep is brought more and more about driving an it should be addressed more regarding shop time. Thanks for the reminder.

View BJODay's profile


528 posts in 2504 days

#10 posted 11-25-2013 03:00 AM

As a FF/PM I have become very good at taking power naps. For me 20 minutes is perfect for clearing my head and not screwing up my sleep cycle. The problem comes in if I don’t get off the couch after 30 minutes. Then my legs turn into lead and I mess up the whole day.


View Lifesaver2000's profile


556 posts in 3673 days

#11 posted 11-26-2013 01:47 AM

I used to do that years ago when on duty. I could set an alarm for 30 minutes, be asleep within about 10 minutes and get 20 minutes of sleep. Kept me going through lots of shifts.

Nowadays it usually takes me a lot longer to fall asleep, so I end up either not sleeping enough to do any good or sleeping way too long. I still try it when I am on duty but at home the interruptions usually make it impossible.

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