Mini Lathe Safety
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Copyright 2000 by Frank J. Hoose, Jr. Home
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are responsible for your own safety and proper machine operation.
As small as it is, the mini lathe, like any power tool, can
be dangerous if used improperly. If you are new to metal working, get in the habit right
from the start of rigorously following good safety practices. Here are some tips:
- Always wear eye protection - preferably industrial quality safety glasses with side-shields.
The lathe can throw off sharp, hot metal chips at considerable speed as well as spin off
spirals of metal that can be quite hazardous. Don't take chances with your eyes.
- Wear short sleeve shirts, if possible, or shirts with snugly
fitting cuffs if long sleeve. Loose sleeves can catch on rotating work and quickly pull
your hand or arm into harm's way.
- Wear shoes - preferably leather work shoes - to protect your
feet from sharp metal chips on the shop floor and from tools and chunks of metal that may
- Remove wrist watches, necklaces, chains and other jewelry.
It's a good idea even to remove your wedding ring since it can catch on rotating work and
severely damage your ring finger and hand.
- Tie back long hair so it can't get caught in the rotating
work. Think about what happens to your face if your hair gets entangled.
- Always double check to make sure your work is securely
clamped in the chuck or between centers before starting the lathe. Start the lathe at low
speed and increase the speed gradually.
- Get in the habit of removing the chuck key immediately after
use. Some users recommend never removing your hand from the chuck key when it is in the
chuck. The chuck key can be a lethal projectile if the lathe is started with the chuck key
in the chuck.
- Keep your fingers clear of the rotating work and cutting
tools. This sounds obvious, but I am often tempted to break away metal spirals as they
form at the cutting tool.
- Avoid reaching over the spinning chuck. For filing
operations, hold the tang end of the file in your left hand so that your hand and arm are
not above the spinning chuck.
- Never use a file with a bare tang - the tang could be forced
back into your wrist or palm. Inexpensive wooden handles are readily available
for common file sizes.
- Make sure you have an up-to-date tetanus shot. Booster shots are good for
up to ten years. Working with metal on a regular basis, it is likely that you will get
many small cuts and occasionally a deep cut or puncture that could put you at risk for a
While actively participating in the 7x10 interest group over
several years I have not heard of any serious injuries caused by the 7x lathes, but there
have been a few close calls. With proper precautions and forethought you should be able to
enjoy a lifetime of safe machining.