Well-Known Member
OK this is something that I think should be Covered and read before ANYONE makes the First knife. Personally I'm kinda' fond of all my body parts, Might not look the best in the world, But I like 'em anyway.

I know many may have had experience working around tools or Shops, Maybe for their whole lives. Some, like me, have some experience, but not a lot.

But I would like to hear anything and everything you have regarding Safety. I know some materials we might use are toxic, or at least irritants. There is always a danger of nicks and cuts, even if you DON'T make knives. Just the Nature of the beast. Some Hazards are potentially worse, loss of digits or limbs. With Power Tools, Danger of Shock is another potential hazard. Then there are vapors and dust and even steel dust coming from the grinders. Eye protection,and some type of respirator should always be used. Here are some links that may be useful to Makers. (Toxic wood dust)

These are just a few things that I could think of right off the top of my head. Please feel free to add anything!!With the links above, I just put the first one or most appropriate sounding one in this list. I DID NOT research these links. So if you know of any better ones, PLEASE post them!!


"The Montana Bladesmith"
OK, you asked for it! :)

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!! Don't just think about the outside of your body! Get yourself a GOOD respirator, AND WEAR IT!

This is what I went through last November/December:

That is a pic of my right ribs....3 days after the surgery.

The Docs found a tumor on my right lung, and once everything was said and done, they concluded with 80-90% surety that it was caused by all the dusts and stuff that I've been exposed to in the shop for all these years.

They had to split me open, spread my ribs, and remove a 2" X 4" portion of my right lung. I was down for nearly 5 weeks! I was very blessed that it was caught early, and removed before it became cancerous. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES! IF THIS CAN HAPPEN TO ME, THEN IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!
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Well-Known Member
Thank you Ed. I have been around long enough to have heard about your ordeal, And figured you would be by to put in a "Plug" for wearing respirators. I didn't know the extent of the damage,but knew it wasn't good. :eek:

I have heard that smart men learn from their mistakes, but Wise men learn from the mistakes of others. I just hope everyone here is wise.2thumbs

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
To quote Jim Hrisoulas, hand tools injure; power tools maim. Always pay attention while using power tools and don't let yourself get distracted. Know and obsurve all the rules for each tool that you operate. Don't be like my dad who lost the ends of three fingers when he backed up work in a shaper (a major no-no) We had to listen to him for week going "I knew better, I KNEW better" each time he looked at his shortened fingers.

Doug Lester

Bruce Barnett

Well-Known Member
Gday guys,

Here is an article I wrote for our latest Australian Knifemakers Guild newsletter which tells a bit of my story with safety.

Everywhere we work these days, workplace safety is probably hammered into us the most. How much of this do we take home with us and apply in our own shed or home environment?. It was not until I became older that I personally, started to practice what I preached at work, at home. Back in 1995, a racing accident that saw me unable to work for 5 months certainly got me thinking about my own personal safety outside of the workplace. However, in some instances it may have already been too late as the damage was already done. I, and others, took things for granted that today have us searching for answers to our ailments and complaints.

I have just spent the last 9 weeks unable to work in my workshop after breaking both bones holding my rh ankle to my leg. The plaster came off after 6 weeks but then still could not walk unassisted due to the side effects of 2 DVT’s (deep vein thrombosis) in my leg.
The scary part was how easy it all happened. 2 days after Xmas I was over at Keith Fludders place, standing at a bench twisting a damascus billet with a pair of Stillsons, the jaw on the Stillsons broke and all my weight kept travelling to the floor on my right side, however my foot didn’t want to move, twisting then breaking the bones off the ankle. The jaw had cracked at the end of a weld holding the added handle on to assist in the twisting. Did I check the Stillsons before swinging all my weight off them-NO. Had I inspected the jaw or the welded handle I may have seen the crack and instead of 3 days in hospital and an ankle looking like a hardware store, I could have spent the xmas holidays making some more damascus and forging out some blades with Keith. In other words, take the extra 5 minutes and check all your tooling and machines every day before use.

Another area that I now suffer is with Tinitus or ringing in the ears. Officially, the medical profession admit they cannot say for sure what triggers it but believe it is caused by damage to the ear from excessive exposure to noisy environments. In my case that is most likely true. I remember walking around the farm as a 14yr old with a mate shooting, and when a shooting rest was required, you offered your shoulder. Did I wear earplugs or muffs back then-No. Years of working on earthmoving machinery and drag racing, I still wore no hearing protection. Now, a lot of things just flat out annoy me, my grinders, a hammer striking the anvil, loud music, having the car window down. Now, most likely through having ignored all the warnings over the years, no longer is there such a thing as “peace and quiet”.

One thing we do as knifemakers is contaminate our working environment with all manner of air born particles. Hands up how many of us have spent time at the grinder with out wearing a respirator?? I know I have.
My good friend, ABS Mastersmith Ed Caffrey, just recently underwent an operation to remove a tumour from one of his lungs which the specialists assured him was most likely caused through the ingestion of particles whilst grinding with out using a respirator. Luckily for Ed it was caught early before it became cancerous; however as a full time maker, it has also hurt him in the hip pocket.
I believe we have lost a few members of our own knifemaking community from similar lung ailments. We only have 2 ears and 2 lungs, but more importantly only 1 lifetime, and no one wants to spend any of that lifetime suffering from an illness or recovering from life threatening sickness brought on by our own ignorance whilst pursuing our passion for knifemaking.

At the moment I am trialling a few different forms of respirators and hearing protection suitable for use in a home workshop environment and will report on my choices in the next newsletter. Until then please do a quick audit on your self and your working environment so you don’t end up with stories like mine.

Cheers Bruce


Well-Known Member
I thought I would add something I learned about drill presses, most of us use them in our shops a LOT and I want to reiterate the fact that they are by far one of the most dangerous tools in the shop in certain situations.

In late Jan. this year I was working on a skinning knife and got in a hurry, I had the blade bevels done but nothing was sharpened, I was fitting the scales and had the knife in the vise loosely getting the holes trued up in the scales, the holes in the blade had went in prior to heat treat or grinding, when I ran the drill bit through the tang and into the scale material I bumped the vise just barely and it caused the bit to grab the hardened steel, when this happened it picked the knife up(the knife climbed up the bit), then the bit broke off. I was VERY fortunate the blade hit me in the hand and took a chunk out of my first and second fingers and was deflected from where it was heading, my abdomen. the knife stuck into my bench tip first about 1/4" deep with the bit still lodged into the pin hole... this was the LAST time I drilled anything without checking the vise constantly, getting in a hurry can get real expensive, real fast.

Safety ain't no joke. I have coughed for days because I disregarded my respirator, I wont be doing that again either... Stay safe.