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JOEL Joel's Blog

Safety Last


Safety Last 1
I'm old enough to remember when people didn't routinely buckle up when they got into cars. Years of laws, enforcement of laws, knowing people who were maimed or killed in car crashes and probably millions of dollars of advertising later, most people I know wear seat belts every time they get into a car. We wear seat belts and accept that that the chance of an accident might be small but it isn't zero. We know that the seat belts will offer a lot of protection relative to the inconvenience of using them. We generally don't think, "Hmmm, I'm drunk so I had better buckle up" or "Taylor just passed his road test so guess I'll wear the seat belt" or "Only in bad weather" or "Only with my parents/kids in the back seat" or "Only on New Year's Eve." The practice most people have is protecting themselves every time.

So why is it in a workshop - especially a home shop - do so many people only put on safety glasses only before a potentially hazardous operation, not wear them all the time?

It's true that when working with hand tools there is less chance of kickback from a saw, but there are plenty of other hazards - sawdust in the air, sharp edges, splinters, etc. - all of which can fly into your eye when you least expect it.

Here is what I insist upon with all my students and strongly recommend to all woodworkers: when you enter the workshop, get into the habit of putting on safety glasses right way. Any kind would work as long as they are comfortable enough so that you actually wear them. Get into the habit. You will be glad you did.

In the picture above we have four forms of eye protection. The ones in the lower right with the black frames are prescription safety classes. You get them from an optician. I like them because up until recently we didn't have any glasses that worked with googles (see below), and by using these glasses I save wear and tear on my regular glasses.

I also have an oversize pair of glasses OTS XL that fit over my regular glasses, seen here over my glasses on the upper right mannequin head. For people who truly need their glasses, this is a godsend. These are the only style of safety glasses that I have seen that really work well over a pair of eyeglasses. Highly recommended.

If you don't wear prescription glasses, you have a range of options that are comfortable and inexpensive. The pair with the black nose piece (lower left) fits almost all faces. You can also get safety glasses for kids and adults with small faces. We know adult woodworkers who have complained that nothing fits them -- until they tried the glasses worn by the picture's upper left mannequin. This is great for instilling good work habits if you kids hang out in the workshop with you (and we hope they do), and for giving small adults the routine protection others take for granted. Click here for more info.

Safety Last 2
The Capstone shield is great when you need more protection and don't want to swallow wood chips being thrown at you. Great for yard work too. The Shield opens and closes

With the exception of prescription glasses, safety glasses are also remarkably inexpensive, as a matter of fact if you click on the links and want to order one pair of glasses the shipping will be more than the glasses - so you might just want to add a pair to your next order and save shipping.

The title of this blog post comes from Harold Llyod's great film. The scene below is amazing - even with camera magic. Lloyd did his own stunt work, which is remarkable especially considering that his right hand was missing fingers due to an accident several years earlier. In the film he is wearing a glove designed by Hal Roach and movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, a former glove salesman.

Join the conversation
01/31/2018 Daniel Burgoyne
So true. I got prescription safety glasses and non-prescription as my myopia is not too bad. Must say that my prescription frames feel the best for all day wearing. Face shields are another option even if you have to wear a dust mask but albeit heavier.
01/31/2018 Jessica Wickham
Thx for the reminders Joel! (And especially that video clip - a day in the life of a woodworker’s business!)
This is 100% true. it boggles my mind that people don't protect their vision and hearing, both of which are so easily lost, and require such little inconvenience to significantly protect.
01/31/2018 Joe
I started my career as a chemist and also did firearms. Both of which are highly in need of safety glasses. I had a talk to my eye doctor (see him ever year or so) and talked about woodworking. He had plenty of horror stories. My biggest initial complaint was that now that I am well into middle age, the prescription safety glasses don't work well for close up work. I need to take off my regular glasses as well to read (nearsighted). I don't need glasses for close up work. I was struggling to find a pair of just plain jane safety glasses that didn't somehow cause a bit of blurriness due to poor manufacturing. I was happy to pay
$100+ to get a pair that were clear and no distortion. The eye doctor told me just to try several different brands as they don't all have the problem of distortion. I went to Lowe's and bought several different kinds. It was fairly easy to find ones that had no distortion and I think they only cost $20. I point this out just in case someelse is finding safety glasses that have a bit of distortion. If I am cutting the lawn I wouldn't notice distortion. It's only when making fine lines for woodworking and cutting to those lines where I have every noticed lense distortion.
01/31/2018 Stan
Fortunately Harold had on his safety glasses the whole time!
01/31/2018 John Whitley
As a glasses-required kinda woodworker, I’ve become a huge, huge fan of the UVEX Stealth OTG safety goggles. They’ve worked great with multiple pair of glasses, from featherweight to robust frames. The silicone seal is comfortable and really keeps out flying chips and dust. And the “anti-fog” part really does work, too. The lens can be easily popped off for cleaning or replacement. Last but not least, an optional zipper case is available for those of us who need to toss ‘em in a jobsite bag, etc.
01/31/2018 Aaron Blohowiak
I have been satisfied with the price and service of You have to know your full prescription and IPD to order from them, but they are much less expensive than going through your eye doctor. As a result, the only glasses I own are safety glasses!
01/31/2018 G
Uvex also sells a prescription frame for $25 that clips on the inside of their safety glasses. You take the frame to an optician and get lenses put in. Then it’s easy to replace the cheap safety glass when it gets scratched. Saves having to put glasses on and safety glasses.
02/01/2018 Chris
In addition to a soft rubber nose piece one nice feature in safety glasses is a small magnifying glass. Some models will contain a 10mm x 10mm square of a 1.5 diopter. It’s a sweet feature.
02/01/2018 Tde
Safety glasses every time you enter the workshop?

How about a helmet, too? There’s a chance a can of paint will fall from a shelf and crack your skull.

This is February 1, not April 1.
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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.