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doh.jpgWe’d laugh, but we did almost the same thing last week:

Reader Weldo Says, “Do not wire weld in shorts, a tank top, and sandals.  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.”

In my case I was wearing tennis shoes.  Hey, it was only a quick weld, right?  Slag caught my shoe right in the mesh part, and by the time I managed to take it off it was gettin’ a bit toasty inside.  I was uninjured (except my pride — dancing around the shop hollering “get it off get it off get it off” doesn’t do much for that), but I did change into some leather-uppered boots.




Reader — and fearless “Doh!” contributor — Eli says, “Make sure when you get your new wire welder you remember to wear long sleeves and long pants, or when you straddle those steel 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.” 

We’ll admit to having pulled this one as well.  Even if you don’t manage to scorch a retina, sunburned eylids hurt like hell.  Ask us how we know.

It’s easy to forget that plasma cutting requires pretty much the same safety considerations as welding.  The arc’s smaller, so it’s tempting to lose the hood.  And just like welding up a leak in a tank, beware of cutting on vessels of any type — especially if they ever held flammable materials.  A case in point:

Reader 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…”

Finally, don’t forget the fire hazards of flying slag and metal chips.  As reader Dean says, “I have an uncanny knack for starting myself on fire.  Been that way since I was a kid.”  We feel your pain.

Next Week

We’re still kinda getting the hang of “Doh!” of the Week as it’s a pretty new feature, and we’re gonna try something new for next week by announcing the topic now and asking you to comment or send-in your favorite “Doh!” moments.  We’ll collect the best from comments and email and post them in next Monday’s installment.

Next week’s toping will be wood shop safety.  We already have a few great moments from our original request a couple of weeks ago, but why not go ahead and drop in your favorites as well?


7 Responses to Toolmonger’s “Doh!” of the Week: Welding Safety

  1. Dean says:

    When in summer school way back when, I managed to cut the tip of my left finger off with a utility knife while making a backgammon board. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I then cut the tip of my right finger off. (I had to use the knife left-handed since my right finger was bandaged.) I did pass the class, mainly due to the teacher wanting me out of there ASAP.

    I used to build electric guitars so I used a router a lot. One major tip: ALWAYS make sure it’s unplugged before you get anywhere near the bit! A router doesn’t care if it’s wood or flesh it’s ripping through.

    Of course, everyone here has probably cut through a cord or two with a cricular saw. (I hope I’m not the only one.)

    I ran over my dog with a belt sander once. Plugged it in, and it was then that I found out that the trigger was locked and it was belt-side down. My dog refuses to come into the barn anymore.

    And wood tends to start on fire easily, (almost as easily as I do), so make sure you have the proper fire extinguisher handy. Make sure the extinguisher is charged and it’s always a good idea to practice with one so you know what to expect when you have to use it.

  2. TL says:

    Ditto the fire extinguisher advice. Once in my younger years I was sharpening a chisel on the stationary belt sander in Dad’s shop. Until the smoke started it hadn’t occured to me that Dad doesn’t work with metal, or have a dust collection system. Sparks from the chisel were smoldering in the bed of sawdust inside the belt sander. My next unpleasant discovery was that the shop’s 10 year old fire extinguisher had no pressure. A nearby cup of ice water kept it from actual flames, but the cleanup wasn’t fun.

  3. Eli says:

    Like I said, never try and weld together 55 gal drums (end to end) while sitting on them in shorts, it feels like you held the sun between your knees at the beach for a day. You walk bowlegged for a week and that’s only if you put on enough burn cream.

  4. Tom says:

    Friend used to weld for years with mask but shirt open. Got repeat “sun” burns and died of skin cancer that started at his open shirt.

  5. Mike (aka Murphy'sSidekic) says:

    I’ve done the “I just need a tack there, and that’s all” weld before, but once it bit me back. I was rushing, and needed a quick tack. Didn’t even think about clothing, but I did grab my mask. Quick tack, then bam, arm was killing me. Looked over, and my nylon golf shirt had a hole the size of a quarter in it, and it was growing. Not much fun to pull molten plastic off your skin – wear your leathers!

  6. Thinkerer says:

    I was in high school in the early 1970’s…the early polyester years. The early polyester was both hideous and not fire retardent. In shop class, one of the cooler than cool started welding with a leather apron that didn’t cover his bell-bottom pant legs from the sparks, which promptly ignited his trousers. No serious injury, but no end of laughter either (and a good lesson). Wear cotton or wool or other self-extinguishing and non-melting material.

  7. Pat says:

    I work for a welding supplly house so i should know better but… We were testing a new machine before the customer picked it up and i decided to run a few quick beads. I was wearing boots and shorts at the time and let me tell you, you’d be surprised how fast you can untie and remove a work boot with a piece of slag stuck in it. The burn took 3 weeks to heal,my pride…? still waiting.

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