Confessions #1: -OR- Why I Just Sat Down And Called A Conference

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Mark Wilson posted 07-01-2018 07:33 PM 2278 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Confessions series no next part

My Buddies. My co-conspirators. My fellow workers of the wood. And, now, my confessors,
Wilson has more words.
Calm down. I’m OKAY. There was remarkably little blood.
Back when I got the Shopsmith and the tools that I began accumulating at that time, I made a tool rack. It was pretty well tailored to the two original sets of ordinary tools I had.

Over time, tools joined the ranks that didn’t fit in this, either because they were too long or too fat, or whatnot. So, having lots of other, unrelated things positioned about the Dungeon meant that tools got laid down here and there. The place that became the main repository of my turning tools was on top of an old microwave that was perched across the arms of a glider I had rescued from sidewalk oblivion some time ago. I spread a big bath towel over the top of said microwave and simply lined the tools up across the towel. That worked pretty well. When I got my new lathe on May 19th. Something had to give. I needed room. So, when I began preparing to move the SS out, I decided that the glider, along with the other glider that sat next to my workbench, covered with clutter, would be better off in a thrift store. To the thrift store they went, along with the microwave, along with the handy place I had kept my turning tools for so long.
My tools went into a box on the workbench. As you know, a box is not a good, or a handy place to keep turning tools. I got out the old rack and sat it on the workbench, which is behind me as I stand at the lathe. Also, not a handy spot. So, I took to doing the “normal” thing:

You know: You use a tool and find that you need a different tool. So, you lay the tool on the lathe bed, grab the tool you need now, and switch back and forth like that, eventually building up a cadre of two or three tools on the lathe bed. This is OKAY, until a tools starts sliding off. A small rag generally keeps the sliding at a minimum. But then, you get too clever by half and do something like this:

Sharp tools are all that and a jar of pickled pigs’ feet, to be sure. But, when they’re sticking up, they look for something to cut.
Here’s how it happened:
I’m using the indexing feature on my dandy new new machine to mark equally-spaced positions on a piece I’m turning.

I’ve got my right hip against the lathe stand, leaning over the tailstock, carefully eyeballing a mark, and step towards the headstock end to move the indexer 120 degrees, step back and repeat stance 1 for the second mark, step towards the headstock and reposition the indexer again, take a step back to position 1 – with the hip and the leaning – and make the third and final mark. This was the point at which something truly tragic MIGHT have happened. AS it happens, what happened happened about two-and-a-half inches Southeast of truly tragic. I straightened up swinging my pencil-holding hand around the tail end of the machine to admire my work. May I now refer you back to photo 3? Right across the inside of my forearm, 2-1/2 inches Southeast of the spot some people aim at with a sharp object – when they want to die. (Incident reproduced, after first aid applied.)

Five or six minutes elapsed before even a drop of blood was shed. Remarkable.

Thank you. And, I apologize.

Sometimes – nah, most of the time – I’m convinced that my meaning in life is to serve as a warning to others.

-- Mark

10 comments so far

View jumbojack's profile


1690 posts in 3392 days

#1 posted 07-01-2018 08:03 PM

I treat any self inflicted calamity as a learning experience. When you can walk away from this with just a little blood loss consider yourself fortunate and vow not to be a stupido.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Boxguy's profile


2876 posts in 3035 days

#2 posted 07-01-2018 08:28 PM

Mark, I know about stupid. It costs money and there is often some blood involved hopefully just mine. I liked reading your story. Nice job of writing.

Last week I managed to lower my old and heavy 16’ x 12’ shop garage door onto my rolling scaffolding. Stupid. This meant the door stopped and the operating motor kept spinning so the cable that moves the door up and down came off the pulley system.

I heard the sound of the door lowering and stopping and the motor running as I was walking away from the shop. And I knew. Without turning around to look, I knew just what had happened. Stupid. Time to call the door repair guys.

They came at 9:00 the next day and fixed the problem. Bless them and the truck they rode in on. There was $200 worth of stupid involved, and I got off cheap. Torsion springs are not what I want to do. Even I am not that stupid.

Just as a way of sharing information, I have had good luck with my rack for turning tools .

It uses a row of plastic pipes that fit the handles. The pipes fit into an oblong box. The bottom board of the box acts as a stop. It hangs from the lathe.

The handles are all of similar size, and I can see the shapes of the tools easily. The sharp edges are up, but there is enough of the tool exposed so that I can pick them out from the side. The pipes keep all the tools parallel and any tool fits any space.

Not great pictures, but my lathe lives in a crowded corner. Hopefully, they will be enough to convey the idea. Happy turning.

-- Big Al in IN

View pottz's profile


9826 posts in 1752 days

#3 posted 07-01-2018 09:33 PM

your warning is well recieved,im glad to see it was only minor.i think were all probably guilty of doing something we know we just cant take being safe in the shop lightly.thanks for posting this buddy we can never be reminded too much.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24774 posts in 3873 days

#4 posted 07-02-2018 12:44 AM

Ah, yes, pointing at ya can cause injury. That is why when I was an apprentice toolmaker, they always taught us to load your drills in a drill index point down. I have used other ones that are pointed up and get poked or scraped reaching for a drill.
The one thing I did with all my lathe tools is have the top ones pointing down with the ends exposed so I can see what they are. The long ones lay flat with the backs out and I put an initial on each one to let me know quickly where the one is I want or I can see the business end too. It works well for me and I never get poked!

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View lew's profile


13114 posts in 4523 days

#5 posted 07-02-2018 03:05 AM

Well at least there weren’t any stitches involved.

I came across this video the other day, looking for a completely different topic, and noticed this turner’s solution for where to place your tools during the turning process. Watch the video starting around 4 minutes 10 seconds for the table she places on the lathe ways-

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Grumpy's profile


26416 posts in 4619 days

#6 posted 07-02-2018 03:07 AM

Mark, all I can say is ouch. But I guess you won’t do that again in a hurry.
The problem with lathe work or any machinery work is it can happen before you realise it.
Keep safe buddy.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2826 posts in 1831 days

#7 posted 07-02-2018 03:57 AM

Lew, Lew, Lew. Always the practical one. But, isn’t that a lot like laying them on the lathe bed? Nonetheless, it gave me an idea. Thanks.

-- Mark

View DocSavage45's profile


8956 posts in 3610 days

#8 posted 07-02-2018 04:02 AM

I’ve done things that i shouldn’t. Not thinking or being careful. Also loose things if i get too focused. Oh yeah that’s where I put it.” For safety and memory issues I clean up every day when leaving the shop. When it’s an outside project my benches, floors etc become dangerous black holes.

Good that it was not life threatening and only mind altering.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4094 posts in 3877 days

#9 posted 07-02-2018 04:40 AM

I have a real nice chest that I made for my palm carving tools. I also wear that Kevlar glove on my left hand, and use that hand (usually) to pick the tools out, because I’m super-efficient, <eyeroll> and made the spacing as close as possible. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been carving and noticed a precious bodily fluid dripping on my project. My carving tools are kept so sharp that I don’t even notice the cut, until there is blood. That, or I’ve cut and/or hammered my hands so many times over the years that I don’t notice the small injuries. :/

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2826 posts in 1831 days

#10 posted 07-02-2018 06:51 AM

Yeah, Dark. You made a noteworthy point in there that comforts me, somewhat. About sharpness. Never having actually used a tool that anyone else sharpened – except for “factory sharpened” situations, – I often wonder how sharp my tools really are. I didn’t really feel the thing slicing my arm open. I guess that means I did a pretty good job, huh?

-- Mark

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics