Back to back - Woodshop News

Back to back

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Just quickly following up on last time, my back is fine. More or less. Still, the entire experience was eye opening, shop-wise. And should be for you, too.

After two weeks of back pain that I feared was something serious, my doctor assured me I was fine. It turns out that strenuous yard work two weeks earlier was the culprit, as I had originally suspected, and the severity of the strain I had put on it was responsible for it lasting so long. His advice was now that I’m older, I need to be more careful of my back.

That has big implications in the shop. Plywood sheets are heavy. Ditto hardwood lumber. Bending – repeatedly – while working is common. Pushing and pulling takes place dozens of times even in simple projects. Because every one of these impacts your back you have to make adjustments, even if that amounts to only being more aware of what you’re doing.

Your back’s fine, even though you’re getting older? Good for you, but you still need to be aware of other age things. If you wear glasses, your vision may be corrected but it’ll never be normal. If you take medications, even common stuff like hypertension or cholesterol prescriptions, you need to know absolutely how they affect you. If your reaction times have slowed – and, yes, if you’re aging they certainly have – you need to slow down.

You also need to look out for things that have already been compromised over the years, like your hearing. If you’re aging, you’ve lost some hearing (and in my best Garrett Morris impression, IF YOU’RE AGING, YOU’VE LOST SOME HEARING). You absolutely must protect what you still have.

The list goes on and on. The effects of aging can’t be escaped, and the woodshop is a dangerous place. Combining the two makes it more so. Even with safety issues aside, the chances of making simple project-compromising errors can certainly rise.

We’re all getting older. It stinks, but you have to deal with it. And no place is that more important for woodworkers than in the shop.

A.J.

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