Tag Archives: injury

Friday’s Rehearsal Notes

The Food Network gives some credit to the shows’ prop master (or design director). Wendy Waxman is responsible for decorating and accessorizing the sets of all the shows filmed at the Food Network’s studios at Chelsea Market.

Congressman Das Williams has introduced legislation to make flesh or proximity detection technology mandatory in all table saws sold in California after January 1, 2015. I have mixed feelings about this. I think safety is important, and I feel in a lot of situations, companies will put out unsafe products until forced otherwise; this is more true with chemicals and toxic substances. But this kind of feature on a table saw is expensive and unwieldy. The vast, vast majority of table saw accidents happen on untrained home hobbyists. 1 This law would make trained users pay for a safety feature that’s more needed for untrained users. Not only that, but job site saws and contractor saws are far too small and light to utilize this technology; I’m only guessing, but I would imagine these kinds of saws are more likely to be used by home hobbyists. Why stop at the table saw? Why not legislate these features on band saws, planers and circular saws? Is it just because a table saw is statistically more dangerous? Because if we’re looking at statistics, a door causes just as many finger amputations per year as a table saw; why not require flesh detection technology on all doors? Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months.

Speaking of dangerous tools, AnnMarie Thomas makes the case to let kids use real tools to build things, and not those cheap toy versions. She mentions how an engineering professor asked his class of 35 first-year students whether anyone had ever used a drill press before, and not a single hand was raised. Looks like props people are single-handedly preserving manual-arts training in higher education. Maybe if kids were taught to use tools, we wouldn’t have so many table saw accidents (the majority of which are sustained by men in their 50s; age does not make one safer, only training does).

I’ve wanted something like this for awhile, but never actually sat down to plan one out. But this adjustable sanding jig for a disc sander looks like it’s the perfect design.

The Studio Creations website has a nice tutorial on vacuum forming plastic. Don’t have a vacuum forming table? No, problem, they have a tutorial on how to build one of those as well.

Notes:

  1. Popular Woodworking analyzed the injury statistics for table saws put out by the CPSC last year.

Ouch

You may have missed a blog post the other day. In addition to spending the whole weekend at tech for Slave Shack at the Algonquin Theatre, I went ahead and stuck a screw gun into my hand.

Punctured, originally uploaded by Eric Hart
Punctured, originally uploaded by Eric Hart

Natalie cleaned and bandaged my wound, but at the end of the day, about 8 hours later, it was still bleeding and fairly swollen. They convinced me to go to the hospital; as the lighting designer pointed out, “It’s your hand, and you make a living with your hands.”

Luckily, Natalie and I had our last Tetanus shots in July, right before our wedding (to make it easier to remember when our last Tetanus shots were). The doctor gave me some antibiotics and this big ol’ bandage you see in the picture above. He told me to not use my hand for two days, and the bleeding should stop sometime this week. Nice.

I could throw in a safety lesson here, to make this more blog-appropriate. Don’t jam things into your hand. But really, most accidents I’ve had or witnessed were during the most mundane tasks, and it’s because your comfort level makes you pay less attention and keep less focus than you should.

But don’t worry, I’ll keep on blogging. Coming up soon is a run-down of the more interesting props in Slave Shack and the challenges they posed. Until then, don’t get screwed like I did!

The Ten Most Dangerous Tools in Carpentry

I found a great post at ToolCrib about the ten most dangerous woodworking tools. What makes it great is that it attempts to survey what woodworkers think are the most dangerous tools in the shop, and also lists the statistics about the most common injuries from woodworking shops. Often, what we think are the most dangerous tools does not always coincide with where the greatest hazards lie. This is especially true when you look at your own individual experience; if you witness someone chew their fingers up on a router, you will be more biased to believe a router is the most dangerous tool ever. This can also be the case if you work in a shop with poorly maintained tools. A table saw which shakes and wobbles is much more dangerous than a well-maintained table saw with multiple safety features.

by Eric Hart
by Eric Hart

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Prop guns

There’s an interesting post over at Controlbooth.com about the correct handling of prop guns.

What makes this a success is that we SEVERELY LIMIT who touches the guns, how, where, and when. Guns are NEVER ‘dry fired’. That is, fired without a live round in ‘em. In our world, if you pull the trigger, you are doing it for real every time. If you’re not doing it for real, your finger does NOT even go inside the trigger guard, and there will still be no live round in it. If the weapon fails to discharge, you DO NOT get to try again. You re-holster it, and move on.

This is, of course, important stuff for every props person to know, especially with a number of incidents that have happened in the past year, which are also linked to from this site.

Knives are another prop where safety is important. About a month ago, I ran across this article: Actor slices neck on stage in prop mixup.

Hoevels, whose character was to commit suicide, had been given a real blade instead of a harmless prop, London’s Telegraph newspaper reports.

As he collapsed with blood spurting from his neck, the audience started to applaud not realising Hoevels was not acting.

The Santa Fe Opera has at least one knife or sword in every show. Drew Drake, the former head props carpenter, taught me that whenever the props supervisor, run crew, or a stage manager placed a blade on your work table, you should drop everything you’re doing and immediately dull the sharp edge. By doing that, you ensure that you don’t forget about it, or worse, you leave it for later only to find someone has taken it off your table and brought it up to stage without checking the blade’s sharpness.

If you don’t have proper safety procedures for dealing with weapons on stage, then you have no business using them. There are already enough things in theatre that can cause injury.