Almost happens a lot in the shop in both good and bad ways. But when it refers to a safety issue as in, I almost cut my finger off, its always bad. Or is it?
Weve all had bad almost moments in the shop that have scared us: Almost cut off a finger. Almost had a bad kickback. Almost lost control of a router. Almost put my eye out. Almost chopped my head off.
Naturally, the fear of the moment makes us look at these incidents as things that, literally, almost occurred. But what does that mean, really? Did you really almost cut your finger off, or were you merely doing a dangerous shop action in a fully controlled way that, although the action was performed without incident or injury, the proximity of danger turned it into an almost moment?
For example, several months back I described my first bad kickback on the table saw. The kickback was caused by vibration and not through any negligence of my own. The workpiece grazed my hand, causing a small cut. Could it have been worse? Yepper, couldve hit me in the neck or smack in the face. But it didnt, so I looked at it as almost having a serious accident.
And although almost can be used in the horseshoe sense here that workpiece came close but wasnt a ringer upon further reflection Ive decided it wasnt an almost at all. Why not? Because I was doing things right. Specifically, as I was making the cut I consciously stood well to the side of the blade for the express intention of keeping myself safe in the event of a kickback. When that kickback happened and sent that piece flying in its logical direction, most of me was somewhere else because I was following good safety practices.
In fact, Ive come to the conclusion that near-accidents in the shop, the ones where you almost do something bad to your body or a favorite appendage, fall in the almost category because of two things: good safety practices and good luck.
If you have both all the time, youll likely never experience anything more than an almost accident. If you always use good safety practices, youll probably do OK when youre a little short on the luck part luck certainly wasnt on my side when a kickback occurred that I didnt cause, but my good safety practices made up for that.
But if you dont use good safety practices at all times in the shop, I can guarantee youll need lots and lots of luck. And if you do, youll be just fine.
Till next time,