Safe practices and personal responsibility

This new topic and the discussion within it started in this post

I believe that the discussion has moved off the original topic, which was to highlight a project completed using the Long Mill. So, I moved the discussion from that topic. I would hope that the new topic heading and the posts already made will generate more discussion on the subject of safe practices while doing our projects.

This was my original post in that discussion:

“I’m sure that some of the experienced woodworkers will join in this conversation. I was surprised to see a professional woodworker using a bandsaw this way. In addition to the “round object” issue, I noticed that both of his hands are holding the piece directly in line with the blade. Any sudden move of the wood through the blade means that he could lose both thumbs.”

Yes, good points, Grant. The imperative is always to work safely where the speed of manufacture is not an issue. I also get the part about not showing video footage that may potentially be harmful if the method demonstrated is followed.

My interest in this subject is that I occasionally produce video footage showing a piece of work or the methods used to obtain it. Not being a professional certainly exposes me to the risk of portraying methods that may be harmful.

We all work from a different technical base and there may well be a case to be made for everyone working the same way. I recall a manufacturer seriously suggesting that only approved people should buy their CNC equipment.

Because we are all adults, it is incumbent upon us to take responsibility for our own safe practices.

While one can see the direction (and appreciate the rationale for Molly’s approach) that has caused some consternation, I would suggest that it is not possible to legislate for best practice. e.g. I want to machine American Cherry and then move on to Red Cedar, which will require different techniques to say… Purple HeartWood.

Workshops are different spaces from each other too. My workshop occupies a floor area of just 8’ x 6’ and out of necessity, I have to use practices that are as safe as I can make them. I know they would never pass muster in any normally sized wood shop.

I am not arguing against being informed as to best working practice but I dislike the notion of having useful material pre-censored, on the grounds that some-one may misuse the information provided. Heck, the CNC machine and trim router sold by Sienci is capable of whirling a sharp carbide cutter around at 30,000RPM! How do you provide and approved usage scheme so that people do not misuse the machine?

Do not take this as an attack upon Molly or yourself. I believe that accurate information provision is essential, especially when we are a group of newbies to CNC work. The way we learn is by getting the information and fitting it to our very different circumstances. The idea of only posting approved material is anathema to me because it does not permit people to grow in confidence when new to a highly technical sphere of work. just my ¢0.02

I don’t know what it is like in the UK, but in Canada and in the US, “adults” sue all the time for injuries they got because of their own stupidity. If someone loses a thumb by following the unsafe practices in this video, and if Sienci is seen to endorse the video, then Sienci has painted a target on their back.

I may be biased here as gwilki is a buddy,but I can tell you that if we used a band saw in our shop like the guy in this video is doing, we would get one chance to change and then be out the door. We had one guy nick his thumb on the bandsaw while fooling around with another worker. The nick only needed 2 stitches. He got workman’s comp for 8 weeks and my bosses premiums more than doubled for two years. His being an adult did not come into play at all in the tribunal’s decision.

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Alanan, you are spot-on with your comments. Unfortunately, that is the world we live in. As the former National Technical Training Manager for Mercedes-Benz USA, and then in semi-retirement working for a non-profit foundation, we had to be extremely careful with all photos and videos that we released. Any unsafe practice shown in a product you release can very likely come back to haunt you.


I think that is a good point and I suspect that although we have many people in the UK who would like some sort of free ride, the courts would not be willing to absolve the human being from acting responsibly. The north American propensity for law suits is staggering. We do see an increase in cases in the UK where lawyers offer “No Win - No Fee” services but they do not take on hopeless cases. If there is not at least a 50~60% chance of winning, there is no percentage in wasting time on cases that cannot be won.

This is obviously a can of worms. Showing the video and stating this is a very unsafe and bad practice is not endorsing the video. Showing the video is far more preferable to never letting it see the light of day, IMHO.

As I stated earlier in the thread, the CNC machine is easily capable of ripping off a limb if it is placed inside the work envelope by accident. e.g. With the spindle speed of 30,000 RPM and a 1/4 inch carbide cutter, the cutter rim speed is 224 mph.

3.142 x .250 = 0.79"
0.79 x 30,000 = 23700 inches per minute
23700 ipm = 224.43mph

I would guess that many new users of CNC machines have near misses early on in their hobby. It is incumbent upon the user to take care of themselves and UK law would recognise that. There are no large pay days for being stupid. Indeed, Caveat Emptor will be the principle that likely would be applied. Especially where the manufacturer demonstrates due diligence and has produced a machine that is no worse than any other manufacturer’s hobbyist machine, particularly where there are safety instructions provided and adequate technical support. Vicarious liability devolving onto a manufacturer; for a user’s stupidity is very unlikely to get much sympathy or house room in a UK court.

I would suggest that an employer who permitted an employee to remain after displaying such a cavalier disregard for their own safety, may end up being held liable in negligence. The argument would probably go… you employed an ineducable fool and they hurt themselves. You let them remain in your employ. Why is that?

This underlines my previous point. No compensation should have been paid and he should have been fired on the spot for gross misconduct. (endangering himself and all of his colleagues)

@jepho We will need to agree to disagree.

In the first place the original Sienci post did not say anything about unsafe practices in the video. If fact, it said that it was an “awesome video”. So, in my mind that is endorsing it; clearly you disagree.

The CNC machine dangers are irrelevant to this conversation. You could mention driving a car, too.

I would bet that you are not a labour lawyer in Canada. There were no grounds for firing him on the spot. Maybe things are different in the UK. Here, he was awarded compensation from the government for his lost wages.

I never thought of it as an endorsement, but I definitely had my teeth locked together as I saw the video. Not the first round box video I have ever seen. I wondered why, with the repeatability of a CNC, he didn’t just carve the top and bottom on the same stock, no need for a jig. I thought the overall depth of cut was madness as well. That’s a lot of cutting edge in a narrow slot. Just my opinion…I have only been doing this for two years and learning every day.

Those of you that remember “The New Yankee Workshop “ , Norm would always, every time, do his safety message before getting into his project. At one point in my younger days, I could repeat it from memory.

In the business I retired from (emergency medical services), we would have to look hard for live action shots to use in presentations that had the providers all using best safety practices. Often times, someone would be without gloves or the proper eye protection.

These things are real, and in today’s society, need to be taken seriously.

Lord knows, we all do stupid things from time to time. From a quote from an old boss I used to work for “the only way you don’t do anything wrong, is if you don’t do anything”. I hope my 2 cents worth makes sense!

Be safe everyone!


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@Jake @Cheu Thanks for this, guys. Other than my initial post, I’ve stayed out of this one, recognizing that it can invoke strong feelings one way or another on the merits of the video and on our personal responsibilities.

I would like to keep this topic about safety and not the video, and to add a couple of things, though.

We have all done unsafe things in our workshops. If we were lucky, we walked away with all of our parts intact and learned something from the encounter. I am on several woodworking forums and seldom does a day go by without someone posting a link to a youtube video, with the subject line “look at this idiot” or words to that effect. In this golden age of technology, anyone with a $10 camera and an internet connection can be a woodworking star/expert.

My concern and annoyance with these is that new woodworkers cannot be expected to know what is safe and what is not. Some things, admittedly, are so unsafe that anyone SHOULD be able to recognize them. However, clearly that is not the case, since the video poster does not see it. So, we have particularly new woodworkers getting hurt - sometimes seriously - simply out of ignorance of the dangers involved. I believe that more experienced woodworkers have a responsibility to point out unsafe practices when we see them.

I’ll step down from the pulpit now. :grinning:


Very well said Grant!


Best line of the entire thread Grant! (No disrespect intended to anyone else that posted their views here). I would want someone to say something if I was doing something unsafe or “stupid”. I am not above learning from other peoples success or failure. Excellent forum and vast amounts of wisdom here!


Being new to the cnc scene, I expected to run into some trouble but didn’t think it would catch up with me so fast.

Two weeks ago I was stepping up my work by trying to surface a scrap piece before conducting some more 2.5D trials. I decided to use the surfacing feature in G-Sender and quickly had a test run on a scrap to see how it fared. It went to expectation so I quickly attached the scrap I was going to be doing some 2.5D on. I needed a bit more depth so I tweaked a few mm extra into the surface. -Or did I?-

Somehow however, this caused the bit to slowly spiral into the wood. I could hear the trouble knocking on my office door, my computer resides behind. I opened the door and just saw the machine pulling the workpiece out off its clamps and noticed a large cloud of smoke coming out of the now blocked Makita (still brand new I tell ya!)

Then the lights went out. Still pretty save, me being way back in the office 10m away from the machine ey?

Yeah well, please note the electric garage door I was now trapped after. Don’t want to elaborate further but damnnn.

So, when I continue to install the longmill (It is still only just working with the components lying around next to the machine.), I will install an emergency stop on the complete setup and in the office. I will install a 4A breaker and a switch for the Makita and while I’m at it, one fuor the CNC too.

Further, I now have put in law that I MUST take the office exit key with me and unlock it when I am activating the CNC. And I need to have at least one battery pack fully charged in my office, gawdammih!

Safety is being able to get out without the use of accu power tools.

The incident got me thinking good. :slight_smile:

@Spamming_Eddie I’m glad that you were not hurt - at least physically.

There are several videos showing the extreme consequences of material coming loose. The spinning bit simply keeps pushing the material around, all the while cutting in the same place on the material. Result = fire. It can happen so fast that even if the operator is in the same room, there can and will be smoke. If the operator is out of the room, the consequences can be much worse. Tripping the breaker may well have saved you from something much worse.

Take care. Play safe.