Saturday, December 06, 2014

Things you learn from working with metal

1. Patience
2. More patience
3. Even more patience.

It's almost Christmas... and I have a wishlist of metal working tools... the top of the list is a full face mask for grinding and polishing, and any real work...
I was reminded this week how important protection is when I was polishing a piece with a wire brush attached to the flex shaft of the dremel. Now, 32,000 rpms is quite a lot when you are thinking about it... and obviously I didn't. It hit home how much damage I could do when one of the members of a metalsmithing site posted a picture of what the grinding wheel did to her face... Protection first.
I wear eye protection all the time, and usually a mask, since the dust from all the stuff I do is dangerous... but I have been lax when I am cleaning up metal pieces.
A full face mask is very important if you are using a grinding tool.
Good eye protection is a must...
More than adequate ventilation is important.
Never take for granted that you are safe.
Never use chemicals like Hydrochloric acid indoors.

There are some items that are a must in the workroom,here are a couple of examples of what I want.

Pyramex Capstone Combination Goggles/Face Shield (1)

This beauty from PK Safety is made to withstand  debris and comes with a couple of extra visors so that you can tear them off when they get too scratched. It contours to your face, which I like... I like this, but I am worried about my forehead... so... I'm looking at other types.


 This is more what I am looking for. You would still have to use goggles since this is not rated for eye protection... but it is more in line to what I want. I am not being overly protective... you only have one skull you know, and a hit in the right place... well... I don't need any more added to or taken away from my brain, thank you. 



A good mask for your breathing is a very good idea, especially if you are using strong solvents, sawing any metal, or grinding metal, plastic, stone or shell.(2).. Copper especially is quite dangerous to your whole body, Shells, Quartz, granite and even common china dinnerware are quite dastardly if you breath the dust(3). The tiny particles enter your lungs and are deposited, they are then picked up by macrophages. When the macrophage dies, it releases the silica, since it can't digest it, and other macrophages enter and try to do the same... as explained in the pdf on Occupational Lung Diseases(4)... the process is repeated while more and more cells are being destroyed by the very mechanism that is supposed to help.

Copper is a wonderful metal to use, it is beautiful, lasts a long time, and it is readily available to use to learn metal work. I work with copper sheet a lot. I love the way it looks, the way it wears, and the patina that you can get with very little effort. I don't like breathing the dust. Even getting it on your skin isn't great, frequent handwashing is essential. Copper can give you symptoms of having a cold, but over time, it can damage your lungs, liver and eyes, as well as the skin. Special consideration should be given when working with any metal, but copper especially should be handled and disposed of properly. (5)

Stay tuned, Next blog, I'll go over some other metals and hazardous chemicals, as well as ventilation, fire retardants and other safety products in the workroom. 



2. Rom WN, Markowitz S, eds. Environmental and Occupational Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia,
PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007.

3. Oregon OSHA pamphlet. What you should know about silicosis and crystalline silica

4. 13 Occupational Lung Diseases

5. Occupational Health Guidelines for using Copper Dust and Mists