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question-tm.jpgIf you’ve spent any time at all in the shop, you’ve probably managed to pull a few boners of one sort or another — we certainly have.  We’re putting together some articles on shop safety, and we need your input.  Rather than just blathering on about what you should do, we’d like to feature some of your (and our) experiences to make it more real.

So, we’d really appreciate it if you’d go ahead and ‘fess up your faux pas to us via email.  If we post your entry, we won’t post your name with it, so your secret’s safe with us.  You will, however, be helping others to avoid the mistake you’ve already made.

Some other Toolmonger news:

New Hands-On 

We’ve been so busy researching and writing that we’ve managed to gather a backlog of items that need testing.  So, we spent most of today in the shop making a dent in the backlog.  That means we’ve got a couple of cool reviews coming this week in addition (of course) to our normal daily content.


We’d love to hear about any new and interesting tools you run across.  Drop us a line with a link!  If we post your suggestion, we’ll credit you.

Comment to Win

Our comment to win contest is still in full force, so every (valid) comment you enter on the side enters you to win.  Thanks so much for all the great commentary this week.

Have a good one, and we’ll see you bright and early Monday.


12 Responses to What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done in the shop?

  1. Rick says:

    Geez.. Where do I begin?

    Let’s see.. installing a light fixture and not verifying that the power is indeed off. Ended up switching off the wrong breaker. Got a nice shock.

    Not watching carefully where my power cable was, and ended up cutting through the power cord of the ciruclar saw as I was cross cutting lumber.

    Trying to do my front brakes using only the factory jack. Besides not using jackstands, I did this on a a very hot summer day in an outside parking lot of my apt. complex. Needless to say it was a fairly recently built development and the asphalt was just installed within the past few months. Needless to say, I jacked the car up, took the disc off one side, put the wheel back on, then took the disc off the other side. But figured since it’s on the jack I’d just leave it there while my friend drove me to a local shop to get the discs turned. When i returned, I found the wheel-less hub sitting on the asphalt and the jack sideways under the side skirt. It had sunken into the softened asphalt. To make matters worse.. I had left my hood up, and my battery was dead!

    Another time when changing the front springs on my wife’s Trailblazer, I was using the simple spring compressors where you use two separate ones, one on each side of the spring, to compress it. I didn’t have an impact wrench at the time, and doing it manually was no fun.. especially when I got one of the compressors to swing over to the other side, and I ended up with the truck spring shaped like a “C” with two compressors compressed on one side, and the other side nearly uncompressed. As bad/cheap as the Harbor freight version might be.. (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=43753) for $40 it’s well worth the insurance to never have to deal with a spring like that. I took it to 9 different local shops trying to find someone who would undo the spring, and no one would touch it. The whole time I was praying the spring bouncing around in my trunk didn’t shoot through the seat or the gas tank.

    I’ve got more stories where that came from.

  2. Tyrone says:

    Trying to put up a hanging pot rack in the kitchen – didn’t realize I should check to make sure the ceiling doesn’t have metal plates above the sheetrock for the ductwork.

  3. Rick says:

    I can’t believe Tyrone and I are the only ones man enough to admit our faux pas?
    (to the ladies, I meant “man enough” in the least sexist and least gender specific manner possible)

    Or is everyone just going to email them in and hide behind the veil of anonymity? 😉

  4. Eli Golub says:

    Right off the bat, every time I’ve decided the job was too short to go hunting for a pair of safety glasses, and ended up with my eye under the kitchen faucet, trying to wash it out. Multiple stupidities that I’m finally over. I even wear earplugs now.

    Also of note, the time I tried to rip a piece of 1/4 inch 4×8 plastic on my contractor saw with no additional support. Even with the blade cranked all the way up, and a mean upward curve on the holding end, you only get halfway before the outfeed end falls to the ground, raising the middle above the blade. You get a really sloppy cut to boot. Out feed support is important, even if it’s only most of the height of the saw.

    Don’t ever leave a can of paint open if you have children, learned that one the hard way too. (must use water based paint if your kids are in the same state as you)

    use a ladder or a stepstool, not a 5 gallon bucket or a milk crate.

    don’t leave any tools at all on top of a ladder, I don’t care if they make a cool pouch for it.

    When removing a piece of pipe from a scrap bin, never yank directly upwards or you will hit yourself in the chin.

    When bending a piece of metal in a vise or jig, keep both feet under you at all times and never exert force towards a pile of pointy things. When the vise lets go, you will bleed.

    A ratchet strap under load can perform just like releasing a bungee strap, and your eye doesn’t really know the difference between those two hooks.

    Make sure when you get your new wire welder, you remember to wear long sleeves and long pants, or when you straddle those steels drums to weld them end to end, you’re gonna get a sunburn on the inside of your thighs you wish you never had. Also, just because they only shut their eyes on ‘American Chopper’ while they weld doesn’t mean you can. A scorched retina tears up so much you can’t even drive yourself to the emergency room. Get a hood.

    Not really a shop error, but installing the floor vent for a new oven and range, I cut through a water pipe. could’ve probably avoided that by using a shorter sawzall blade, as the pipe was mounted under the joists. No plumbing repair is worse than the one you could have avided (in the crawlspace)

  5. Eli Golub says:

    I forgot the classic one of not wanting to take the time to install the front handle on a corded drill, and having it bind and nearly sprain your wrist while it spins out of control, eating up cord.

    Also thinking I could cut mirror myself.

  6. Andy says:

    Once, I tried to make a jackolantern outta an old propane tank. Well, I was using a plasma torch, and, well, it shot about 10 feet up into the air with a big !woosh! Had to change the drawers after that…

    So, the chuck kept falling off of this drill press we had in the shop, it was one of those press fit buggers, where when it gets loose, you have to take the entire spindle apart, and press it back together. Or heat the chuck and press etc, you get the idea. So, being lazy and we were out of propane for the torch, I had the bright idea of instead of heating the chuck, we could _cool_ the spindle. Well, with what? The CO2 fire extinguisher. Unfortunately, our particular model was only using the CO2 as an accelerant for the POWERED fire suppressant. So, long story short, there was this awful yellow lemony tasting (it gets everywhere) powder all over everything. Awful.

    I used to do AV installs, and there are plenty of stories about using those really long drillbits (6 feet and up), but the two that stand out, were when I hit a stud and the bit went the wrong way, into the side of a Jaguar, and when the guy I worked with accidently drilled through the side of a baby’s crib, about 10 seconds after the nanny had picked the baby up. He was really, really shaken up after that

  7. Weldo says:

    Do not wire weld in shorts, a tank top and sandles. Not saying I did that but if I had, the little burns from the slag would be on their way to healing pretty well. Man, I bet that would have hurt!

  8. Dean says:

    I have an uncanny knack for starting myself on fire. Been that way since I was a kid.

    Then there was the time that I was changing tires on our Sunfire and instead of pulling the car into the barn with the nice cement floor, I decided to do it outside on the gravel slope. Without jackstands. Sure enough, the car falls off the floor jack, so off I go to get the scissor jack out of my wife’s Outback. (The Sunfire’s jack is MIA). Well, I don’t know who designed this particular jack, but I’m thinking it was Rube Goldberg’s evil twin. After a few minutes I finally manage to get it out of the holder, then about a half hour later I got the Sunfire back in the air and the tires changed.

    There’s also the time that I had my air chisel in my hand, pointing down at my feet and I pulled the trigger. Who knew that the chisel tip can fly out that fast and hurt that much?

  9. David says:

    Ooo! That’s a long list!

    In Design: Making a PC stand out of 1/4 plywood. Nothing else. Don’t worry, the PC survived.

    In practice: I don’t care how strong you THINK you are, you can’t hold a thin piece of metal while ‘cleaning the burs off it’ while using a 90-degree air grinder. The sanding disk ALWAYS grabs it and either launches it or cuts a finger. (I still have all ten, thank goodness.) During the same procedure, your knuckles mean NOTHING to the sanding disk. It will happily sand your hide right off, and never even bog down!

    We had a large project working with titanium once, and the guy next to me had a pile of TI dust built up from all the sanding. I suggested he clean it up and of course he told me he’d clean it up after this LAST one. Well he got a little too close to the dust and it ignited! The flash looked like one those old timey photographers who held up the flash powder. It went poof and burned a hole in the top of the table. (We called him Flash from then on.)

    Generally… Too big, too small, didn’t look what’s behind, trying to take a ‘shortcut’, Not having my eyeball calibrated, trying to use my shoe as a hammer, trying to use my adjustable wrench as a hammer.

    These words leave my lips, “What’s the worst that can happen?”, and this phrase usually starts a chain reaction that often leaves the project in serious jeopardy.

    There’s another phrase that often leaves me in hotwater, “I can make that at home!”, usually to my wife. After several weeks of nagging, starts and stops, it usually end up paying for the cost of the materials plus the cost of the new item when I finally gave up!

  10. MikeT says:

    Well, I did take a chunk of finger off with the table saw once, but no one saw, so does it really count?

    But this past weekend, my wife wanted to help while I built her a workout bench, which meant she was there to make concerned clucking noises over the lack of safety guard on the saw, etc. Needless to say, I was very, very careful, and there were no accidents or injuries of any kind. Until I went to take off my work apron and stabbed myself in the face with a pencil I’d put away pointy end up.


  11. TL says:

    There was the time I was using one of those six foot drillbits for running cable without checking for power wires first. Only had to cut a one foot square hole in the ceiling to splice in new romex.

    My most common mistake though is never checking where my hand is going to end up when the bolt the wrench is connected to gives way. The longer the cheater bar, the more pain I’m going to end up in.

  12. Derek Hunt says:

    My biggest shop screw up was feeding some flooring through fancy new, and first, table saw. Not fully understanding , or having a deep respect for what kick back meant, I decided to go level whilst to view the board going through level. The piece shot back and smacked me square in the face. I was wearing glasses underneath my safety goggles, and it cracked my right eyeglass lens underneath the safety goggles. I now have a great respect for my table saw, safety goggles, and the kick guard which should have been installed.

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