To your health

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At the risk of repetition, let’s talk about health and the woodshop one more time.

The last couple of blogs I’ve discussed how a minor back injury affected my woodworking. Well, everything’s back to normal “back-wise,” and I think I’m a wiser woodworker as a result. I’m still not out in the shop right now, though.

We went up to see our grandson over Thanksgiving to celebrate his fourth birthday, and although we had a wonderful visit Sally and I both returned with chest colds. (As an aside, this is the first time in decades of marriage that we’ve ever gotten the same cold at the same time; clearly, one of grandson Jed’s party guests was the culprit and we were exposed to the little disease carrier at the same time.)

Colds can be severe, but there are woodworking implications with even the most minor colds. For one thing, even the slightest amount of airborne dust makes me very uncomfortable, and although I’m proud of my upgraded dust control system you still can’t help inhaling a little bit.

I also tend to be sluggish when I have a cold of any severity with things feeling like they’re in slow motion. That’s no way to feel when operating things with sharp spinning steel in them. Add to that cold medications – those warnings on the label about operating machinery are there for a reason. To be honest, I’d no more use the table saw after taking cold medicine than I would after downing a couple of beers.

Fortunately, I have no pressing delivery deadlines and can afford to take a few more days off from the woodshop. Sure, I’m eager to get back to work on the X-Wing fighter I’m making for the aforementioned grandson, but it can wait. Not all woodworking takes place in the shop; there’s office work, planning, cleaning and organization, etc., so I still have plenty of safer woodworking things to do over the next several days.

To close out this three-part look at our physical well-being in the shop, let me just say that it’s not enough to protect your health while in the shop. Using guards, push sticks and feather boards, wearing eye/ear protection, etc., are all good health practices, but you also have to take stock of your state of health at any given moment, and let that be a guide to how – and when – you work in the shop.

A.J.

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