Now that you have your arsenal of tools …
It's now time to consider not only our personal safety but also that of our new house. Whether you choose hand tools only, or sprinkle in a variety of power tools, there are safety precautions that should be followed to ensure you have an injury free experience.
To discuss every aspect of safety as it pertains to the miniaturist would take volumes. This is not intended to be an exhaustive dissertation, but to merely point out areas of concern and help make you aware that, even in the world of “minis,” there are “real world” dangers. Being accident and injury free will contribute greatly to making your miniature experience much more pleasurable.
Your cutting tools are sharp and capable of inflicting very serious injury if used incorrectly. Some safety precautions to remember are:
Always keep your fingers out of the cutting path of the blade.
Keep your cutting tools sharp and they will be safer and do their job much better.
Don't place your cutting tools in a drawer or toolbox without covering the blade. This same principle applies to pins, needles, tacks and other pointy objects that would not mind imbedding themselves in your fingers as you stir the contents of the toolbox or drawer looking for that special tool.
Be careful to place your craft knife down while not in use. A flailing knife in the hands of a distracted miniaturist can be a dangerous weapon.
Also keep in mind that many craft knives have round handles that roll very well. When you put your knife down, put it in a place where it won't roll from the table and stick itself into your foot or your cat.
Each power tool has its own set of operating instructions.
Please take the time to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and safety warnings. Many are included because of the misfortunes of unfortunate users.
Always, always use eye protection! Although they have made great medical progress in eye repair, why would you want to go through the pain and suffering when the injury can easily be avoided? It only takes a second to put on eye protection … and it only takes a second to lose your sight if you don't.
Rotary tools are a widely used addition to the miniaturist's weaponry.
Again, eye protection cannot be stressed enough. Bits and blades can break and fly at very high speeds too fast to duck, so keep that eye protection on and protect your vision!
Loose clothing and hair can also be an item of concern … likewise jewelry. Imagine a rotary tool running in excess of 10,000 rpm grabbing a lock of your hair. Not a pretty sight, and your hairdresser won't be the only one who knows for sure!
Tools are not the only things that should be of concern to the miniaturist. As we progress in our hobby we collect all sorts of paint, glues, and other chemicals that can pose a hazard to our health and well being.
Always read and heed the warnings given by the manufacturer. These warnings include suggestions about use, ventilation, protective breathing equipment, and storage.
Some of our chemicals can be a fire danger too. Be cautious of sparks and open flames, including gas pilot lights.
If you're unsure of the proper safety precautions to follow with a particular product request an MSDS - "Material Safety Data Sheet" from the retailer or manufacturer (at least in the U.S.). The manufacturers are required to provide this information for your use with any hazardous product. The sheets have quite a bit of information in them and will help you make wise decisions on using and handling your products correctly.
Always try to work in an area that is well-lit and free of excess clutter.
Working while you are fatigued will invariably affect your concentration and lead to accidents, injuries and forgotten steps in your construction process. Unless you like doing things over again, or you are "into" pain, work only when you can provide your full attention to the task at hand.
Lastly, nicks, cuts, scrapes and slivers will happen.
Keep a little first aid kit close by with bandages and antiseptic.
Wash the battle scar well with soap and warm water and apply the antiseptic to prevent infection, and then cover the wound to prevent it being contaminated with foreign materials.
Serious cuts and injuries should always be attended to by a physician.
If you haven’t had a tetanus shot in over ten years, it is a good idea to tell your doctor that you use cutting tools and ask whether getting a shot is an appropriate preventive measure in your particular case.
Maintain a clear path between you and a source of clean water in case of eye contamination. This is important in the event that you splash some chemical in your eyes. You want to be able to find the closest sink so that you can start flushing your eyes as soon as possible. Should the path to the sink be obstructed and you have no one at hand to assist you, it may be difficult for you to avoid obstructions or tripping hazards in your effort to get to the sink.
Having a fire extinguisher close by can also be a valuable addition to your safety equipment.
It is a task to try to write about safety without sounding negative. However, if you will use common sense and "follow the directions," it will greatly increase the enjoyment of your building experience and save you the pain and suffering of serious injury. Trust us!
Last revised: April 2001