Safety First: Cutting Edges

Since I don’t have a cool  schtick on my blog yet, I’m going to start a new recurring topic entitled “Safety First.”  The idea will be one blog each month about how to work more safely while modeling, and I’ll try to put one entry out on the first of each month.  See what I did there?  This article is all about cutting edges–specifically razors and box knives, but much of this can be attributed to any sort of sharp edge.

Before I begin, I want to point out that I’m not the foremost authority on safety; I’m just a concerned hobbyist that wants to make sure that everyone takes time to think about what they’re doing.  This post is by no means a substitute for any safety practices available to you: be those from the manufacturer, or things you’ve already learned—it’s just an attempt to raise awareness to safety.

Modeling is a fun hobby; let’s try to keep it safe as well.

The Right Tool for the Right Job

Substituting the wrong tool for the job can lead to accident or injury.  You should only use quality tools that are sharp and in good condition.  If a tool is broken, dull, or damaged, it should be marked appropriately and disposed of.  That said, there lots of choices in cutting implements.  Select one that is appropriate for your modeling task.  As a starting point, all utility knives should have retractable blades.  There is no application that requires a blade that is always exposed.  In fact, several types of knives have some safety measures built in to them; consider using a different variant to improve safety.  Some examples include:

RTFM

I won’t go into what the acronym stands for, but if you buy a tool and it comes with a manual, take two minutes and read that manual.  They’ll go over most of the same thing this article discusses, but may go into further details how to safely operate that specific tool.  If there are any discrepensies to what I say and what they say, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

And Kids… Get your Parent’s Permission

Often, more than permission is required.  If you’re under the age of 18, adult supervision is strongly encouraged (if not required) when handling most tools.  I’m sure there are official guidelines, but without knowing them, at least make your parents aware of exactly what you’re doing.  They should be adult enough to make the decision as to whether you can be responsible enough to handle the tools without their immediate supervision.

Protect Yourself

Wear protective clothing while cutting.  This should include clothing that would be resistant to cutting, but not prohibitive to your ability to model.  Good ideas when working on any modeling project include:

  • Gloves
  • Shoes (in case you drop your knife)
  • Eye protection

Additionally, I picked up the following tips froma link off of the OSHA website: http://www.scif.com/safety/safetymeeting/Article.asp?ArticleID=114

  • The most important rule to remember about using cutting tools is to ALWAYS cut away from the body & face.  When cutting with one hand, know where your other hand is.
  • If a sharp tool is dropped, DO NOT try to catch it, but allow it to fall, making sure your legs and feet are out of the way.
  • The safe way to work with any cutting implement is to concetrate on the task at hand, making straight, even cuts without rocking, prying or twisting the tool. 
  • Don’t force.  Hammering or applying excessive force or pressure to sharp and cutting tools can cause them to slip.
  • Keep in mind that some materials or outdoor conditions can also make tools slippery.

Protect Your Workspace:

When cutting, you’ll want to ensure that you protect your workspace (especially if, like me, you’re prone to working on the dining room table.  While you can provide yourself a modicum of protection by using a sheet of cardboard, you’re better off using a self-healing cutting mat.  These can be purchased at any arts & crafts store, or at many hobby shops.  My suggestion, always go bigger than you think you need.

Storage & Disposal

When not in use, cutting implements should be stored in a sturdy toolbox or on a tool rack with the blade retracted (or sheathed, in the case of X-ACTO blades), and out of reach of children.  Don’t leave tools unattended.

Ideally, used blades should be disposed of in specially designed containers (like those needles are stored in hospitals).  Since most hobbyists don’t have such containers readily available, you could use the container the blades were purchased in, tins from mints or gum, etc.  Again, these need to be stored out of reach from children.

Know Where to Go

In the event that the above precautions don’t work and you do have an accident, know what to do in the case of emergency.  Know where your first aid kit is, and be sure that it has the following items:

  • Anti-biotic ointment / Antiseptic wipes
  • Fingertip & other various size bandages
  • Sterile gauze pads

Some good guidelines as to other equipment you should have in your family’s first aid kit can be found at the Red Cross’s website: http://www.redcross.org/services/hss/lifeline/fakit.html.

Likewise, know basic home safety emergency response procedures: The numbers to call in case of emergency, who is around that can help you should you hurt yourself, etc.

Well, that’s it for now.  Here’s to wishing you plenty of 10-fingered modeling to come!

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4 comments on “Safety First: Cutting Edges

  1. The right tool for the right job is great advice. Not only can it prevent injury, but can also prevent damage to the tools themselves. I’ve spent far too much money on plastic clippers because I didn’t always use them on plastic. 😦

  2. The right tool for the right job is great advice. Not only can it prevent injury, but can also prevent damage to the tools themselves. I’ve spent far too much money on plastic clippers because I didn’t always use them on plastic. 😦

  3. Very nice, no one really talks about all the dangerous materials we use as modelers. Nice to see someone looking out for us!

  4. Very nice, no one really talks about all the dangerous materials we use as modelers. Nice to see someone looking out for us!

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