View Full Version : By-Passing the "RED FLAG"

A.K. Boomer
01-24-2009, 12:53 PM
I forget if it was my metal shop teacher or wood shop teacher that installed that safety mechanism in my head when I was young but it was one or the other or possibly both --- the doctrine was that when you went outside of the normal parameters of operation that a "RED FLAG" should go off in your head --- it should be as obvious to you as the cap locks and color I just put on it to describe it,
This is what happened to me yesterday - I was at my friends shop and hadn't been on the engine lathe in about 3 months -- I was facing 32 UHMW pieces and was trying to set up a stop for them in the three jaw due to them only being 3/4" long they would not fit all the way into the chucks base and yet were also to small a diameter to use the other jaws to hold them,
So my option was to make up a slightly smaller piece of UH or use something flat and wide to slide in and out of the chuck behind the pieces, Ahhh, there's a perfect size piece of HSS thats about 3" or 4" long and half inch by 3/4" -- its perfect and nothing has to be done - its ready to go --- all I have to due is remember to pull it out after I use it to align the pieces --- I immediately get hit with a huge "RED FLAG"
This is no big deal for me - I get hit with tons of them just about every freekin day - I take a look at the data - analyze it and give it a "Go" or "No Go"
With this situation I immediately pasted a sticky note up in my head with bold red letters that said Do not forget to remove the stop OR IT WILL BECOME A PROJECTILE !!!
I then took a step back from my brain to see if I could see the sticky note --- yup -- then I asked myself "yeah but can you read it" the reply -- Yup.
Ok then - its a done deal, I did about 5 parts but
the thing is is there was this guy in the shop talking to my friend about how the "internet chatter" has changed worldwide and not for the better --- it seems that there's certain programs that use google and other search engines as a guide as to whats going on in the collective consciousness of the humanoid species and in fact according to this fella were in quite the pickle -- fascinating im thinking, I then turn my eavesdropping into a deductive reasoning question or two --- its then answered with a reply that is good enough to inspire more quality thinking that could actually lead somewhere (somewhere meaning anyplace thats different than the place I was in as I dont get out much anymore) Wow --- im now in the conversation and some of my brain cells are traveling through the universe at the speed of light (although it could be argued that they where actually just holograms of brain cells that existed long ago and no longer do)
I was in an automatic pilot mode --- there was a program running that pulled up on the engine lathes handle, it was the right mode (the forward motor control) at the wrong time -- the program skipped a mode, it was an insert mode ------- It was the sticky note, I was immediately reminded of the error by a loud metallic sound and a shot to the left bicep, I got very lucky The lathe was set @ 610 rpm's and I had the tool pulled way to one side which was greatly in my favor, i bet it never even made a full revolution before it slung out due to the offset of weight -- had I had it more centered it might have got up to speed before it let go,

Im not accustomed of making an ass out of myself (at my friends shop or on here) but once I do I will tell the world about it if it makes somebody think --- strangely enough - I didnt have my safety glasses on and im the guy who usually gets teased because I wear then at his shop to de-burr parts, although I usually dont look directly above the chuck it could have happened -- this situation is unacceptable and yet I let it happen, afterwards my Friend stated "thats why I told you to be careful with that - everytime iv tried that its got me into trouble if its a multi-piece job"
I musta been on pluto cuz I didnt even here him...

My other sins have been getting into a mode on the CNC mill -- deburring the parts just milled while the machine is doing freshly loaded ones, get into a groove and one time I deburred very efficiently way ahead of normal and actually opened the vise while the machine was in a procedure -- there really was no "RED FLAG" that went off that time -- you wont even see the color when pure stupidity is the catalyst.

There's something in this post thats also a cue ---- stepping away from machinery for long periods (three months) and then getting right back into it is a warning in itself -
Also (although this was not the case yesterday) the first half hour coming back from lunch can be a little sketchy for me...

Feel free to bash - I deserve it. :o feel free to add, We all can use a little...

01-24-2009, 01:05 PM
There's nothing so humbling as a good "burn" like that in front of your mates.
Glad you lucked out and didn't get hurt real bad.


01-24-2009, 01:25 PM
The only bashing I'm giving is for your abbreviations ..

This is a homeshop forum many amateurs trying to learn from posts ..

I didn't know what UHMW was .......or i suppose most others...had to google it .
Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene

All i ask is ...if you are going to put abbreviations .,..first put the full name of the stuff .them abbreviations in the rest of the post

same goes for your steels ...in the UK ...we don't have the same numbering system that you have ...if you were to, just say .......mild steel , low carbin .high carbon etc ..aluminium ....then a lot more would be understood.

all the best.markj

01-25-2009, 12:08 AM
If ever there was an ad for buying a second operations machine,this was it. A collet holder for the lathe would also have worked, or a bored set of soft jaws, or a custom bored collared split bushing to use as a stop collet in the chuck. When ever I need to do more than 2 pieces jury rigged like that I always look for options and more than 10 pieces gets put in the hand screw. Set up time is probably the same as trying t ofind the right sized spacing block. You got off lucky Good safety message reminder for us all.

01-25-2009, 12:18 AM
Red flags are also whispered into your ear by your friend..

If you don't listen, you might realize it in hindsight.

01-25-2009, 12:26 AM
"Use it or lose it"comes to mind in manual skills.I wire weld nearly everything thing these days.As a result I purposely TIG and stick some jobs just so I don't lose my motor skill set for that process.You have to stay current.

It's also best I found to stop and have a BS session rather than try to keep a machine running in the middle of one.:)

01-25-2009, 12:27 AM
Red flags are also whispered into your ear by your friend..

If you don't listen, you might realize it in hindsight.

Except for that one who says "oh,just take a little more off,it'll look better" wrong!

01-25-2009, 01:26 AM
"Use it or lose it"comes to mind in manual skills.I wire weld nearly everything thing these days.As a result I purposely TIG and stick some jobs just so I don't lose my motor skill set for that process.You have to stay current.

Yup.. where appropriate, on larger projects I'll do some w/ stick & some w/ MIG just for that reason. BTW, do you still have to stay current if your supply is constant voltage ?:D

01-25-2009, 02:13 AM
my metalwork teacher had a small collection of 'prompts' he used to leave around, fake blood on tables, a finger [rubber] that had been ripped off, complete with blood and viens etc a hand also torn up, i think they had them from a theatrical supply, they looked real, it got the massage across really well [ a few threw up when they first saw them]

01-25-2009, 03:00 AM
I personally would not rather see the stage mockups..

A apprentice years ago.. kept taking the chuck key off the drill cord next to the plug so he could change bits without bending over to unplug the drill.. THE drill keyed on as he was tightening up the chuck key,, the drill spun capturing his thumb and pulling crap out up to his elbow.. It looked kinda a cross between spagettie and yellow-white snot... His thumb was so buggered, I don't think they reattached it.

I had told him to leave the chuck key alone.. he knew more than me. Nothing more to say. I told you so is not nice when someone is crippled for life.

Then another day I was working next to some benzine filled rail cars. (Velsicol Chemical Chattanooga Tn). looked around to see another apprentice smoking.. the fumes were so high I was light headed and he was smoking.. I cursed and laid hands on him.. took me a week to calm down.. but a burn clinic would not have been fun either.. They peel you like a onion.. They say that very old chemical plant has closed.. Lil birds would fall dead out of the air flying over that place.. there in a "dark" section of Chattanooga .. where the bad gases and high cancer rate would not be noticed.. much.. They had a pyramid of Agent Orange in 55 gallon barrels buried behind the place.. no containment or?? The dirt mound was still there last I saw.. they say the stuff was not.. so they said.. no records..

The voices in my ear said I didn't want to work there.. Just long enough to catch up the child support payments..

01-26-2009, 03:08 PM
A great post Boomer, most of work alone in our shops and this is a reminder to be extra vigilant around our precious toys. They can bite and if you are alone and are incapacitated by some stupid mistake you are ON YOUR OWN with no one to come to the rescue. I am, most of the time, mindful of that fact and take time to be extra cautious. But, I have been bitten, and then it hits me. What if, and take more care to be safety conscious again. I will remember your RED FLAG post in the future. Thankyou. Peter.

01-26-2009, 07:24 PM
Boomer...I launched a chuck key or two from the lathe in my early days in the trade. I am sure we all did. One of the way I trained myself to avoid it was to make it a rule that any time the key was in the chuck my hand had to stay on it. Kind of inconvenient but it works well for me. THe operation you describe is one that I had to do on a daily basis, facing off things shorter than the jaws of the chuck. I used a hardened steel parrallel to set the work. I would put the part in the jaws and snub it just enough that it would slide in and out with a little pressure. At that point I would remove the key and pick up the parrallel. I could push it part back against it and hold it with one hand while tightening with the other hand. Since my hand was on the parrallel with my finger pushing the part down tight, I would just slide it out and tighten the chuck once it was removed. It quickly got to be a routine that I could do on autopilot and not launch anything. If the phone rang or someone started talking to me I would just put it all down and step back. It worked for me but everyone has to work out their own methods. What hurts worse than any injury is your own voice calling yourself a dumbass. :D I know from personal experience.;)

tony ennis
01-26-2009, 07:41 PM
facing off things shorter than the jaws of the chuck.

Instead of parallels or spacers, maybe a spider is called for? The wrong tool for the job also seems like it can be a dangerous tool.

Now, if someone would only post detailed plans and pictures of a spider, the universe would be complete!

01-26-2009, 08:26 PM
Instead of parallels or spacers, maybe a spider is called for? The wrong tool for the job also seems like it can be a dangerous tool.

Now, if someone would only post detailed plans and pictures of a spider, the universe would be complete!

If you don't have every tool there is and you don't have a lot of time to make them then you seek other alternatives. There are always more than one way to solve any problem. You will find a lot more parallels in commercial shops than you do spiders, or folks who know what a spider is. :)

THe bottom line is to be careful and pay attention.

A.K. Boomer
01-26-2009, 09:32 PM
I wont be pulling that stunt again, no matter how busy --- @ the risk of exposing just how bad my schizophrenia is I was trying to appease both the osha inspector AND the shop foreman and this time the latter had the last word -- thats not always a bad thing because if you do nothing but listen to the osha guy he would rather that you never leave the house as even though theres still radon gas there its far more safer than driving - until of course you starve to death ---

the conversation between the two was just what I said -- the Osha guy made the shop foreman put up the sticky note in my brain and then he really did ask him if he could read it, The shop foreman did answer yes and was not lying but it really did go a question or two more -- something like the osha guy saying "yeah but are you going to hang around in this area to keep it in view" (meaning not let your mind wonder off)
by then it was too many questions for the guy who just wanted to "GIT ER DONE"
so he treated the osha guy like a nagging wife and said "yeah yeah yeah im staying right here"

Shop foreman is also the same cat that had me in a high speed wobble going 156mph on my CBR F1 600 hound dawg with bare feet no shirt and a pair of sunglasses - he's got quite the temper too -- had the osha guy hooked to a rope and was dragging him down the road at that speed.

On the flip side I know of guys who are about to shell out who are my age and have played it so safe theyve never really lived a day of their lives --
balance is key.

I would do it all over again but not with HSS -- it would have to be a piece of delrin or UHMW and I would have to have safety glasses on and I would try real hard not to screw the pooch...
Thanks you guys for the helpful safety tips -- we all use certain tools for what they were not intended for but I bypassed a very strict rule of mine right off the start - now I wonder if I would do it if all I had to do was one part --- I think I would do that due to the fact that I could be 100% positive it was removed but will cross that bridge when I come to it...

Frank Ford
01-26-2009, 11:33 PM
A.K. Boomer -

Thanks for the story. It's a service to all of us when we read this kind of stuff so we can learn from another's mistake. There can never be too many reminders about safe work habits.

I've put in a fair amount of time at the lathe in recent years - enough so that much of it is second nature now. BUT, almost all my work is with collets, so I try hard to remind myself with those sticky mental notes every time I work with chucks. Now, I'm thinking I might just make a couple of aluminum (or maybe plywood) spiders to hang on the wall near the chucks. . .

01-27-2009, 05:46 PM
Now, I'm thinking I might just make a couple of aluminum (or maybe plywood) spiders to hang on the wall near the chucks. . .

Frank...is this what you call a spider???? Never heard the term before but then I'm not a machinist. I made these things up to hold stuff forward in the jaws. They will go down to hold 7/16.



A.K. Boomer
01-28-2009, 11:22 AM
Dockrat those look good --- and I know this is common sense but I want to mention it anyways with all the VFD's out now and people pushing things past their limits, Im just thinking of some Kid saying to himself "hey -- I'll take them down even further so I can fit even smaller stuff in them" Then his inner webs are half the size and he's outfitted his smithy with a 9,000rpm spindle VFD drive unit and is doing a piece so small that he doesnt realize that half the jaws compression energies are already going to try and separate the pieces :eek:
Can you imagine those babies coming uncorked? Oooops --- thats my other personality (the osha guy) He's a worry wart:p

Frank Ford
01-28-2009, 11:59 AM
Frank...is this what you call a spider???? Never heard the term before but then I'm not a machinist. Me, either - everything I know about machining I learn right here. Those are fine spiders - just what I've been thinking of making.

MSC sells (not to me) sets of three for as little as $198.00:


01-28-2009, 03:59 PM
So, with reference to the original post, what you were trying to say in three words or less is "Don't get distracted". We are men (for the most part in this group) and there are studies that show that it looks like estrogen actually contributes to the ability to multitask successfully and that testosterone has the opposite effect. If its a handicap for us, so be it, but we have to know our limitations. I for one suffer from Adult Onset Attention Deficit Disorder. Not really...but I have found that as I have gotten older, my mind can be pulled from the task at hand much more easily than ever before. We are surrounded by more chit-chat and information overload than ever before and I think that's a contributing factor. Even 20 years ago, there was no such internet phenomenon being tracked to have a discussion about--much less while you were running a lathe There were just fewer things to have floating around our brains or turning into interesting but off-topic conversations.

I am going to take a risk here and publish a picture that came from another member. When I saved it, I made a mental note that it came from John Stevenson so I give credit where credit is due. Its another way around the chuck stop idea for smaller stuff. This means of implementation is really simple to make and you can either bore and thread the end of the threaded rod for tiny pilots that let you go down even further in size, or turn, drill and tap buttons to go on the end that make it bigger, as needed.


01-28-2009, 04:10 PM
You know, some times you get bored and the question must be answered... How far will that chuck key actually go? Boredom can be dangerous.