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Delicate question -- age and safety

Posted by Oaktown (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 25, 14 at 13:16

Hi all, I would appreciate any ideas or suggestions you have regarding this situation.

My father is getting older (as we all are) and my mother for a couple of years now has been urging him to give up major woodworking projects. He's had only a few minor accidents over time but she's worried there will be something major. The issue has come to a head because they will be moving in with us soon and he wants to either bring all his stuff (table saw, etc.) or get new ones. Mom is against this. We know this stuff makes dad happy and don't want to deprive him of that. I could push the fact that we live in a neighborhood with houses close together and not the country -- but our real concern is his safety. Are there tests or signs to look for to tell when someone probably no longer should be operating machinery? Or do you need to rely on their judgment or a big accident before they will give it up? Appreciate any insights you might be able to offer.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

Age is often not the best indicator. Physical condition and muscle condition are better ones.

Dexterity and hand/arm strength are very important for working wood.

However, often when a person is unable to safely use power tools, hand tools can still be utilized. Or a combination.

If a person can no longer safely use a table saw, they could easily still be able to use a scroll or band saw.

Seems to me a physical therapist familiar with power tools could offer an informed opinion.


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

Vision, overall balance when standing and moving things, manual dexterity and hand/arm strength are what you need to evaluate instead of "age".

I'd focus on getting a well-lit work area for him, with no tripping hazards and places that require awkward lifting.

http://wheelchairwoodworker.net/
http://community.woodmagazine.com/t5/Shop-Setup-and-Design/Shop-for-disabled/td-p/125620

might have some useful info


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

Thank you very much!

Maybe if we can eliminate the table saw for now, mom would be happy with that. I am hoping that in a few years my kids will be old enough to help/learn/look out for him when he's doing projects. Will be a good way for them to spend time together. Right now, however, they are young enough that I think it would be a hazard for everyone.


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

If safety is a major concern, look at Sawstop

While I object to their business practices, they make a decent saw with flesh detecting technology that reduces the chance of serious damage.

I have been to a number of retirement complexes where the "Woodshop" was one of, if not the major, hobby outlets for retired folks. We also have a few guys in the woodworking club who are well into their 90s and still actively woodworking.


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

"If safety is a major concern, look at Sawstop "
There's your answer,let the man injoy life as he chooses. Death is rare and phisical injurys are known emediatly so that they can be treated , could we say the same for his mental well being.
Make certain there is good dust collection and air filteration in the shop. You didn't say how old the grandkids are but I'll bet they would injoy watching and he would injoy having them. There are things a child older than 3 can do under supervision and that's how education begains.
I commend you for researching both sides before making a desission.


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

The Sawstop is a great idea, thank you! I think it really is the table saw that scares my mom.

Our oldest just turned 9 and soon might be able to use more than just the hammer, drill, etc. I still don't want the boys nearby if blades are out, in my view there's not enough room and too difficult for him to mind everyone's safety. Dad never gives me a hard time about it I think because when the three of them are there he can't get any real work done. What do you think might be appropriate for kids under 10? (I remember begging for a Swiss army knife when I was 8 . . . never got one until I bought it myself)


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

Sheesh, how old is your dad?

I'm 72 and six years ago redid my kitchen alone - well except for the four guys that did the granite.

Likely would not do it at current age, but not because of table saw operation. (Which have sorta scared me for fifty years! lol)


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

"What do you think might be appropriate for kids under 10?"
That would be at the discression of your dad since he is in the best position to decide. You also have to realize the question is similar to asking "what is an appropriate pass time for a 35 yo lady?" Alot depends on desire, ability and willingness to apply themselves to learning. To domonstarte,I have 2 grandsons several years apart in age that were quite different in the shop. #1 liked to pretend he was the narriator of a TV show on some days,others he broke up fist fights amoung audience members, he also injoyed serving refreshments and directing spectators to the snack bar and restrooms. When a proceedure caught his interest,he asked questions and relayed the answers to his tv viewing audience. That was pretty much the routine from 5 years to about 8 when his desire for hands on creation increased. From 8 brushing on stain and paint,sanding and scraping,driving 100s of nails into scrap boards to 9 or 10 sketching and suggesting ideas he cut with the scroll saw,prefecting refinishing techniques,learning to use a spoke shave and bench plane,I feel he gained much skill without so much as turning the table saw on much less cutting with it. #2 hit the ground running about 7 wanting to build things. We spent several of his vists completing a 50 calbire machine gun along with several other items of interest to him. He recently turned 11 and has only average interest in the shop sometimes choosing other activities instead. Any conversation in Tx involving boys will eventualy get around to their use of guns and hunting. I mention this because it is a nail biting subject for so many and to demonstrate how different kids are ready for any act at different ages. A third grandson shot his first deer when he was 8,#1 when he was 12 and #2 isn't even close to center fire rifle hunting. Not for lack of desire on his part but his unwillingness to crawl before running. Above it all we treasure our time spent togeather and have no problem finding things in common to plan or events to recall. What are some approprate activities for a 10 year old? I couldn't tell you but their grandfather likly can. Best wishes to your family,having parents "move back home"can be testing.


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

" He's had only a few minor accidents over time but ....."

Well, first I'd like to know what those accidents were. Someone who is experienced with a tablesaw likely knows what to watch out for. In fact a few minor accidents are a good way to sharpen the mind. I imagine that the saw stop is a nice idea but there are plenty of other nice sharp or grinding devices including manual equipment that could get anyone in trouble. Again, experience is usually the issue unless we are dealing with severe mental or physical deterioration.


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

You all rock.

Dad is 74 and has had fingers stitched back together a number of times. I wasn't around for most of those, but that is why mom dislikes the table saw. She's fine with the minor tinkering but they argue when he talks about building a structure, going up on the roof, etc. They've actually been traveling a lot the past few years so he hasn't built anything larger than a headboard or bookcase recently -- at least here. (My folks already are with us nearly half the year, so I feel pretty good about the whole moving in thing. They're going to have their own space.)

Favorite "together" activity for dad and the boys -- and my husband too -- actually is surf fishing but we haven't found a good place to do that out here. So, we'll keep making the trip to the NC Outer Banks every summer as long as we can!

This post was edited by Oaktown on Fri, Jul 25, 14 at 22:38


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

"What do you think might be appropriate for kids under 10?"

Ask them, evaluate thior personality, and teach them how to use it safely.

it's more a matter of body size and hand strength - I know children under 10 who are competent with a compound miter saw, drill press and pockethole jig. I know others who should not be allowed rounded-tip scissors or safety pins.


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

I'm headed to the state fair Monday to judge 4-H woodworking competition. Ages from 8 up through 18. You would be amazed to see some of the things they make.

My own (now in their 30s) girls all spent time in the shop doing woodworking from age 8 on. All made a number of fairly complex projects under my supervision. I'd demonstrate on scrap, let them try on scrap until confident, then on to the project. All of them still have their projects in their homes.

But I also worked with Junior Achievement (high school)
students before I had kids. Some of them would not quit fooling around long enough to be safe.

>>it's more a matter of body size and hand strength - I know children under 10 who are competent with a compound miter saw, drill press and pockethole jig. I know others who should not be allowed rounded-tip scissors or safety pins.


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RE: Delicate question -- age and safety

Hi Oaktown, from your name, I guess we are distant neighbors. Back to your original post: Are there tests or signs to look for to tell when someone probably no longer should be operating machinery?

I was on the experience should work well, but your response of: 'had fingers stitched back together a number of times' is on the alarming side. Its the Number Of Times which suggests failure to learn that concerns me. The worst thing I ever did was once while looking down and switching my saw off, I somehow allowed my other hand to graze the top of the slowing blade when that hand had no reason to be anywhere near almost any part of the saw. Obviously, that could have been one of those major disasters rather than a trivial scrape. It did sharpen the mind though and my hands never get near the moving blade now.

So, I think your dad probably should skip the table saw.

BTW, if you may need to get a collection of less dangerous tools, might I suggest the local auction scene. If I had known about them, I wouldn't have moved some of my heavy (and light) tools. You can often get very good deals on a boatload of tools (or a load of boats).


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