Shop Safety and Etiquette

From Artisan's Asylum

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Here are the Asylum's priorities in order of importance.

  1. Ensuring the safety of people
    • Renters
    • Tool operators
    • Bystanders
  2. Ensuring the safety of the Asylum's equipment
    • When used within the scope of its capabilities, equipment should not be damaged.
    • Doing something which is unsafe, or will damage tools, is showing disrespect for other members.

If you choose to use tools (or other resources) in an unsafe manner, or outside the scope of their capability, don't expect future access to those resources.

Basic Shop Rules

  • You must pass a certification test on most tools you want to use before you use it, even if you are already experienced in using that tool.
    • Hand tools and soldering irons are the only exceptions, as we do not offer testing for these tools
    • Use the right tool for the job. Misusing a tool because it’s handy can damage it and your project.
    • Tool Testing Calendar
  • Do not use any machine you are not trained on and comfortable using. If at any time you are unsure of what you are doing, Stop immediately and ask for help. Do not force tools.
  • Do not use any machine that is not in good working order. Stop, leave a note on the machine and notify
  • Wear safety glasses at all times when in the shop area, including near the machine shop.
  • Ear protection is also recommended, many of the tools operate above 90 decibels and without protection, you are losing hearing.
  • Eye washing stations are at either end of main shop corridor and have single-use cartridges.
    • It costs quite a lot to replace the cartridges, so be careful not to bump them.
  • When using power tools (including hand power tools):
    • No open-toed shoes or loose clothing
    • Remove objects on hands and wrists (including rings, bracelets, & watches)
    • Remove dangly necklaces, hair ornaments, and earrings
    • Restrain long hair to prevent entanglement
    • Do not wear gloves
    • Do not leave machines running unattended.

Woodshop Rules

  • All powered woodcutting and sanding tools must be run with dust collection or vacuum equipment connected to the appropriate ports and on at all times.
  • Smoke or sparks are bad signs in the woodshop. Stop what you are doing and correct the problem. Usually correct feed and depth of cut or getting a sharp bit / blade will help.
  • All wood must be processed according to our Materials Cutting Chart. Wood considered highly toxic, or containing lead paint or mold, is never to be machined in the space. Wood with nails, screws, staples, etc., must not be cut with the large power saws. You must read the full cutting chart for all details (also posted in the woodshop).
  • No metal cutting allowed on woodshop equipment.
  • No wet or damp items of any type (including containers, rags, limbs) may be placed or left on horizontal machine surfaces.
  • Clean your machines, your work space, and put all tools away when finished. Scrap wood should be placed in designated locations. Use vacuums or hand brushes to clean machinery.
  • Food and beverages allowed only on workbenches with ratty tops - never on any machine table.

Welding Shop Rules

  • NEVER weld without a proper face shield.
  • Closed shoes must be worn.
  • Long-sleeved, non-flammable shirt must be worn.
  • Wear proper welding gloves.
  • Never weld on or near anything that's been cleaned with a chlorinated hydrocarbon like brake-cleaner. Combined with UV light it can create phosgene gas. THIS CAN KILL YOU OR PEOPLE NEARBY or hurt you really badly. Ventilation will not prevent poisoning. Here's what can happen. (PDF version.)
  • Always wear ear protection (earplugs or muffs) if there's any chance at all a spark could bounce or fall into your ear canal. An eardrum punctured by a spark will instantly cauterize and never heal.
  • If you burn yourself, immediately douse with cold water: seconds count!


Make sure the weld area is free from all flammable materials such as flammable liquids, paper, etc. Do not wear clothing or gloves that have been exposed to flammable liquids.


Before turning on a weld machine, make sure there are no puddles of water on the floor around the weld bench or the machine. Make sure the weld machine is dry, including the main box, the torch, the pedal and the plug.

There is little risk of dangerous electrocution from a properly working TIG weld machine. When the user presses on the pedal to initiate the arc, a high-frequency low amplitude arc will emit from the tip of the weld torch. Once the machine detects the grounded metal piece that is to be welded, the arc will switch over to a high-amplitude DC current. Even if the operator deliberately points it toward their body, the shock will be mild, since the machine will not switch over to the high amplitude current.


Welded metal will remain hot for several minutes after it is welded. In most cases the heat is localized near the welds itself. In the case of more conductive materials such as copper and aluminum, the heat may more distributed throughout the piece.

In the case of TIG welding, sparks and spatter are non-existent, unless rusty or dirty metal is used. When MIG welding steel, there will be sparks, earplugs and full coverage safety glasses (as always) should be worn to prevent burns to sensitive tissues.

Gloves must be worn when welding and handling recently welded material. White cotton welding gloves may be used for light TIG welding, as long as they are free from holes. For heavier welding, deerskin or heavy duty welding gloves should be used.

Closed shoes are a must: no sandals.

UV Burns

The light emitted from a weld arc is much brighter than that of the sun, since it is much closer. Do not look at the arc without wearing a full-faced welding mask, with a shade 10 or darker filter plate. Always make sure the weld curtains are in place between the welders and other people in the shop. Also be sure to cover any exposed skin while welding or observing inside the weld area, including cuffs and collar areas. The rays from the arc can cause a UV burn much worse than a sunburn. Observers may use a cardboard mask with a shade 10 filter plate.

Compressed Gas Tanks

Argon and CO2 are gasses normally found in atmosphere and aren't inherently dangerous, however, if left on in an enclosed area could potentially cause suffocation by fully displacing the breathable air. The larger potential danger is the change of the top getting knocked off the tank, causing it to become a rocket powerful enough to cause severe damage to people, equipment, and ever possibly the building itself.

The following guidelines must be followed at all times.


  • Tanks must always remain upright, NEVER stored horizontally
  • Tanks mut be secured -- connected to an immovable object and prevented from falling over with a non-combustible material (metal).


  • Tanks must be securely capped

Safety Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • PPE is required when in any shop area whether working or not.

Eye Protection

To protect from chips, sawdust, splinters or other foreign objects.

Foreign Object damage

  • Safety glasses
  • Cover goggles
  • Prescription safety glasses with side shields. Prescription safety Glasses (regular glasses without side shields are not acceptable)
  • Face shields

Welding Protection

Foot Protection

When working in the shops, foot injuries are common. Items often drop, can be tripped on, or sparks can fly.

  • Shoes must be worn in any shop area.
  • The minimum footwear must cover the entire foot.
  • No one wearing sandals, toe shoes (vibrams, skeletoes), or open top shoes (mary jane) will be allowed to enter the shops.

enter any shop area.

Hearing Protection

Hearing protection is not required form all shops, but encouraged.

  • Disposable foam earplugs are available at the safety station near the wood shop.
  • Disposable foam earplugs are a good choice when welding to keep sparks from traveling down the ear canal.
  • Ear muff (princess leia) style protection are a better choice which keep all foreign objects out of the ear.

Hand Protection

Gloves are available for both safety and can be a hazard.

  • No gloves should be worn when using moving tools (bandsaw, lathe, drill press, etc.) They can be pinched and rip off fingers or entire hands.
  • leather work gloves are ideal when handling material to protect from splinters and cuts. They often have nylon backs on them and should not be used for welding, or any handling of hot metal.
  • MIG welding gloves are heavy to resist sparks and heat.
  • Oxy fuel gloves are slightly lighter to still resist heat, but allow for greater control of the filler wire.
  • TIG gloves are the thinnest and allow finer control of the filler material. They are more sensitive to heat.
  • Rubber gloves may be needed for working with different chemicals. Allergies (latex) are common enough that the material should be checked prior to use.

What You Can Borrow While Working at Artisan's Asylum

  • Safety Glasses
  • Ear Muffs
  • Welding masks
  • Welding sleeves
  • Welding gloves

What You Can Keep (Disposable Items)

  • Foam earplugs
  • Dust masks

What You May Need to Bring

When something breaks…

  • We have a ticket tracking system that will update our wiki in real time if you tag the tool as broken using the QR code on the tool.
  • If you break equipment or find something broken tell us at The faster it’s reported the quicker it’ll be fixed.


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