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Safely Using Cold Working Equipment

 

Click here for a list of basic cold working equipment.

Although it's possible to cold work with manual tools such as diamond hand pads, most cold working involves power machinery. In order to use power equipment safely, it's critical that you know and follow appropriate safety procedures.  Procedures differ from machine to machine, but there are a number of items that are important regardless of the machine used.

First, realize that cold working almost always creates glass dust.  You are working with a material that has been shown to cause silicosis, a very serious lung disease. Water can help keep silica particles from becoming airborne, but it's not guaranteed to keep them out of your lungs. Wearing a respirator isn't just good advice, in the long run it could save your life.

Your lungs aren't all that you should protect.  Most cold working equipment throws up glass shards and small pieces of glass. Wear safety glasses or use a face shield. Wear the appropriate clothing (such as long sleeve shirts or gloves) to protect you from getting cut. And clean your work area frequently to minimize the chance of cutting yourself on a stray sliver of glass.

Most cold working equipment makes LOTS of noise. As glass artists, we often neglect hearing protection (even though it's one of the most common problems we can experience).  If you're going to spend a lot of time at the grinder or saw, it's a good idea to wear hearing protection.  And if at all possible spread your exposure out over several periods of work, rather than trying to do it all in a single marathon session.

In the final analysis, it's important that you not be afraid of power tools.  But you should always respect the tools you use.  Know the appropriate safety procedures for each machine, and follow them.  That way you'll live to work another day. 

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Copyright 2005 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

Special thanks to Phil Hoppes for this tip.

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Four Corners International, Inc.

4140 Clemmons Road, #320

Clemmons, NC  27012   USA

Copyright 2005-2006 by M. Bradley Walker.  All rights reserved.

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