My woodworking hobby stated – as many do – as a home improvement urge. My wife and I moved into our home back in 1997, and the previous owner…….Well, as my mom taught me, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Some of the things I saw still leave me puzzled.
For example, ceiling fan in the master bedroom. Rather than install the silly thing in a way that would 1- ensure the sucker would stay on the ceiling and 2- not cause a house fire, she did things her own way. The electrical wire was just run through a hole punched in the ceiling. The connection between the fan and the wire was made only with electrical tape – and it wasn’t inside a junction box. The fan itself was hanging from a vaulted ceiling socket that was screwed into a joist until the screw heads stripped out. Since neither screw was tightly mounted to the joist, the fan had this nasty tendency to wobble like crazy.
I had faced this, and dozens of other ‘issues’ just like it, for the past decade.
As I was doing this work, I began to develop a reputation as a handy man. One my co-workers and friends found out about quickly. And, I was often offered deals to ‘help’ friends and neighbors fix their issues. I recall one Saturday when I was at a co-worker’s house, doing a few odd jobs (to earn some tool money, of course). While I was cutting an aluminum screen door jam to size with a jig saw, I was amazed at the amount of metal fragments that were flying away from the cut.
Of course, I was not wearing safety glasses. I didn’t have them on me. Needless to say, a piece of aluminum jumped up from the saw and hit me right in the eye. I could see it flying up to get me. The piece stuck. I ran to the bathroom and rinsed the eye out, and, fortunately, the piece came out. But, my eye hurt. BADLY. It was tearing up something awful.
I told my friend that I had to get to a hospital, and – quite foolishly – drove myself to the ER. Two hours, $100 and several exams later, I found that the injury was only a scratch on the cornea. Some prescription eye drops and time was all I needed to recover.
But, I learned a very valuable lesson that day. Your eyesight is one of the most precious things you have. I don’t care how careful you are, there really is no excuse for not wearing safety glasses. In fact, after my trip to the hospital and the pharmacy, I went to the local home improvement store and bought several pairs of safety glasses. One pair went into each portable tool’s case in my collection. One pair went into my toolbox. Others are stationed around the shop in strategic, easy to find locations. I even bought a really cool looking pair of safety glasses and one of those eyeglass retainers, so all I have to do is let them hang when I don’t need them. That way, I can find them without searching around the shop.
Now my rule is, “nothing gets cut unless the glasses are on,” and that goes for guests as well as the woodworker. Hopefully, you will see the wisdom of this decision without having to lose your sight.