Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Shop Injuries

Good thread idea Karl. Sorry about your stitches and blood-letting.
I have always endeavored to avoid injury and been quite successful -
no stitches, very little blood. With very small, delicate, and now
arthritic hands that is the goal. When working at the bench with
anything sharp or difficult to control, I resorted to putting a
leather glove on the left, exposed hand. Since I always wear out a
right-hand glove per season in the garden, the left ones were easy to
come by. Now Womenswork company will sell spares, but I’ve plenty of
old ones still. Even a thin leather dress glove will do quite well.
Another option, for guys, would be to check the kitchen/cooking
supply places or catalogs and buy a nice chainmail glove for the off
hand but doubt it would be as comfortable for holding. Meat-cutters
don’t mind.

Hope this helps staunch the flow out there.

Interesting post about shop injuries.

  1. Early in my career when I was still in school and the utility
    room was my first jewelry studio I dropped a steel ring mandrel on my
    big toe. The fat end hit first and “wow what a wallop”. First lesson
    learned, (memo to self) never ever work with sandals on in the
    studio. OK so far but when that hummer of a toe started throbbing and
    filling with pressure I remembered the story of my nephew being taken
    to the rescue squad to have a hole drilled in his nail to relieve the
    pressure after an injury, So I grabbed the ol’ flex shaft and a drill
    bit and went to work on my own nail. Worked like a charm. I did clean
    every thing with alcohol. I felt so proud of myself for treating the
    injury and using my head but a number of other people were “slack
    jawed” with shock that I had the audacity to drill a hole in my own
    nail. Oh well.

  2. Tennis elbow from jewelry making? Yes indeed the biggest size
    ring I have ever made, size 18. I beat on that puppy like crazy for
    weeks because "Big Daddy kept gaining and losing size weight. It was
    the hottest part of summer and water retention was a problem. This
    was one of my best friends and my wedding gift was making the rings
    at cost. The reciprocal motion on my left hand and forearm caused the
    diagnosis. The ring mandrel cradle/holder from Rio Grande is now
    mounted on the table in the forming area of the studio. Great tool
    and now I never work with out it.

I realize that many people have very serious injuries and I am not
trying to make light of the subject but both of these injuries were a
little giggly.

All my love to Orchidland,

Cathy Wheless

    So I grabbed the ol' flex shaft and a drill bit and went to
work on my own nail. 

Congratulations on your nerve, levelheadedness, and
self-sufficiency. However, if this should come up again, I would urge
you to try a slightly different “methodology”. Grab a straightened
paperclip or similar steel or gold wire (silver conducts heat too
well to be good for this). Heat it to red in an alcohol lamp (torch
would get it too hot) and touch it to the nail where the most blood
is. This requires no painful pressure on the digit, and keeps you
from drilling past your goal. The nail vaporizes on contact and the
release of trapped blood immediately quenches the hot wire. With a
paperclip, you can hold it comfortably in your fingers for best
control. Plus, believe it or not, this is exactly the way the doctor
trated me when I was injured at work, oh, thirty-some years ago. Now,
they probably use some nuclear-powered machine. As for me, I have no
interesting injuries to report, just in my early days I used to
regularly saw into my middle finger, left hand. On the other hand
(actually, the same hand) I needed 8 stitches this spring when I was
pruning a cherry tree… but the saying goes, “It’s not the truck
you’re watching for that hits you.” --Noel

Hi, all,

I’m catching up on a few hundred emails, so if this has been
addressed, please forgive the redundancy. I feel compelled to respond
to suggestions about wearing gloves to avoid injury. This has come up
on this forum before, but some things just need to be repeated every
couple of years.

Gloves are great, and the perfect solution in some situations. But
there is an important exception. P l e a s e don’t use gloves at the
buffing machine, or any other fast-moving power tool. Better to loose
some skin than a finger. Gloves can catch-- even surgical gloves–
and let’s not get graphic about what can happen. The image of chain
mail gloves really gives me the creeps!

Live long and prosper-- with all parts intact!

– No�l

In reading about the tatoo left by the wayward drill bit, I laughed
and looked at my thirty-year-old tiny tatoo line left by a wayward
jeweler’s saw in my left index finger right next to the nail – do
you think I was holding the silver too close to the saw blade? ; )
It was my first jewelry-related injury in my first jewelry class in
eighth grade. Anybody else sporting this “mark of distinction”?


Gloves can catch-- even surgical gloves-- and let's not get graphic
about what can happen. 

I have always agreed with this statement, recently at an art center
where I was a visitor, a student put on surgical gloves to polish.
I politely asked something and she said, oh yeah, the teacher says
it’s okay. And another time, in another setting, a fellow
metalsmith claimed that the key to not getting hurt is just to have
gloves that fit really well. I was openly shocked. The person
shrugged and said, I’ve never gotten hurt.

As jewelers and metalsmiths, our hands and eyes are pretty
important. My knees I need for skiing, but hands and eyes,
essential. I’m always shocked that people aren’t more careful about
the parts they need to make jewelry, either for a living or for the
love of it.

Am I alone on this one? Has anyone else encountered the “surgical
gloves are okay” attitude?

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992

I’m new to silver work. During my first class on soldering, I
bought equipment to practice with at home. Bought my pickle and put
in in a crock pot. After soldering a piece, I picked up the metal
with copper tongs and placed it into warm pickle. At least that’s
how I remember it. Anyway, my piece was clearly much hotter than the
pickle and a wet splash of sizzling steam flashed out, right into my
left eye. At first since it was just a tiny droplet, I thought maybe
it didn’t matter or maybe I had only imagined it hit my eye. After
10 minutes, I knew it was no mistake. The pain was amazing, and I
rushed to the shower and held my open eye under the stream. My
boyfriend called the hospital who told him to bring me in after
another 15 minutes of washing out the eye. We got to the ER and they
told us to have a seat. We explained the damage to my eye could get
worse if the chemical wasn’t neutralized or completely washed out.
They put us ahead of the gang. The ER folks washed out my eye some
more then scanned my eye. There was some burn damage but they felt it
would heal. I used antibiotics in the eye for awhile and now it seems
to be fine. I had just gotten lasex surgery several months prior.
Made me wish I still wore glasses. Now I wear goggles when I’m
working with pickle.


Anyway, my piece was clearly much hotter than the pickle and a wet
splash of sizzling steam flashed out, right into my left eye. 

I also am new to silver work, but I think you are supposed to quench
the hot silver in some water – and then when it is cool, put it in
the pickle. This is safer, anyways!

Hi All,

Just a note about the use of hydrogen peroxide slowing the healing

My doctor once informed me that the use of hydrogen peroxide on a
fresh wound is a good disinfectant. However, it should not be used
after an initial flushing of the wound site because it eats into
(for lack of a more accurate medical term) the tissue. This will
cause the wound to not heal if used subsequently and repeatedly.

Dale - Nursing tendonitis in my left forearm for about nine months

Ok, Ok. I admit it.

I have crazy glued my lips together twice. (Much to the delight of
my co-workers!) I was mocking up some photopieces, with a ring in one
hand, pearl in the other, needed to straighten a post, so I put the
pearl (which had glue on it) in between my lips while I grabbed a
pliers. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t done the exact same
thing two days later.


Have a safe day, you all!

-Kate Wolf in Portland, Maine where we had an incredible show of the
Northern Lights on Thursday night.

About ten years ago, Charles Lewton-Brain and I had a good time
talking about a comic book for jewelers we could put together, about
all the different ways one could maim themselves in this industry.

We talked about calling it “The Incomplete Metalsmith” by Jim
McWrong. The cartoon guy on the cover would have an eye patch,
missing and bandaged fingers, a patch of hair missing…

It was going to have cartoons showing someone polishing with a chain
wrapped around his hand, someone gabbing and distracted while cutting
a rubber mold, a woman with long hair (not tied back) while working
with a flex shaft… and the aftermath.

Too much fun.

It amazes me how one second’s distraction can put us out of
commission for a while.

Last December I sliced my thumb badly, while cutting a rubber mold.
I’ve cut over 3,000 molds, and hadn’t cut myself with a scalpel blade
in 20 years. I looked ahead to the mold making class I had scheduled
for the spring. The thought of ten novices with scalpel knives made
me panic, so I cancelled the class.

Pay attention, be mindful. When you’re distracted, tired, or
overwhelmed- take a break.

Best Regards,

Kate Wolf in Portland, Maine - with one workshop to go for the
season. Ellen Wieske’s Tinkering with Wire. Too much fun!

   About ten years ago, Charles Lewton-Brain and I had a good time
talking about a comic book for jewelers we could put together. 

Hi Kate;

I think a comic book would be great, and why limit it to injuries?
What about strips about stupid bosses and salespeople, or stupid
jewelers, for that matter? What about some on jewelers crawling
around on the floor looking for “findings” or torching job envelopes
accidentally, etc. Better yet, I can see this worked up as a full
length comic opera. Sweeney Todd move over.

David L. Huffman

I bought a few cabs from a fellow lapidary today, and his wife
noticed that I had a piece of meat missing from my index finger. She
said, “you must have done that on the grinder.” I said, no, I did it
cutting cole slaw.

Truth is, while I have had my share of runs for the bandaids, the
worst and most common injuries I have sustained have derived from my
adventures as an amateur auto mechanic, plumber, etc. Such
adventures almost demand a blood sacrifice prior to completion. I
have burned myself a few times, and ground through my fingernails
way too often, but metalsmithing and lapidary are a long way from
being my most dangerous pursuits.

Lee Einer

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry

Hydrogen Peroxide is most over-rated. Your doctor is exactly right.
It is necrotizing which means it breaks down viable tissue. I have
seen some real messes due to the over-zealous use of H2O2. I like the
idea of tumeric. Sounds interesting. I don’t know if it works but I
would be willing to try it. And aloe vera and DMSO. IMHO.

There is a natural safe source of low level hydrogen peroxide and a
great antibacterial agent available - Honey. A medical grade honey
is available from the chemist but I have used normal honey for
healing purposes as well as to get rid of fungal infections that
wouldn’t respond to a wide range of prescription treatments.

You will find a wide range of articles on the net if you search for
"medical honey"

All those above have several articles on the subject.

I have appreciated this thread as it has also prompted me to review
some of my practices. One thing I have learned is to make safety
practices as easy to do and safety equipment easy to find to
eliminate the “i’ll just be a moment and it’ll take too long” type of
dangerous thinking.

Hot, Dry, Sunny Queensland, Australia

    Made me wish I still wore glasses.  Now I wear goggles when
I'm working with pickle. 

Everyone, the first thing you should do before entering the studio
is put your safety glasses on. Not just at the pickle pot, not just
at the grinder, not just at what ever. As soon as you walk in the
door put them on. It is just too easy to lose an eye to flying
debris, chemicals etc. Make it a habit, in the studio … safety
glasses on.


I like the idea of tumeric. Sounds interesting. >I don't know if
it works but I would be willing to >try it. And aloe vera and DMSO.

Judy, I guess that I agree about the turmeric and aloe. However, I
would research the subject of DMSO before recommending it. Back in
the 60’s’ I worked for a major scientific supply company when DMSO
first was being used medicinally. There were serious questions about
the safety of topical DMSO. Does DOCTOR Hanuman have anything to add
to this, even though it is kind of off-subject? David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings

Would add this one thing to your list Kate. When you are in a
hurry!!! Stop, take a deep breath and count to 10. In 30 years the
number of true jewelry emergencies have been of so few and oh so far
between. Not worth the damage done to me or to the jewelry! Frank Goss

I too had a very scary thing happen to me … I was about to use my
flex shaft. and at the same time I was pulling in my chair,and
dropping down my optivisor.I stepped on the peddle and (that was
closer than I thought ) I had a 3m polishing wheel on there .and it
started to spin.catching my hair. It happened so quickly the pain was
so intense.I looked at my hand and the wheel was full of hair ! It
pulled the hair right off my scalp.In a nice 1’square . My hand was
shaking so bad. The Hair has finally growing back in that spot .and I
can stop covering up that bald spot.

 I was about to use my flex shaft. and at the same time I was
pulling in my chair,and dropping down my optivisor.I stepped on the
peddle and it started to spin.catching my hair. 

this was covered as one of my main points in my original post,
never do anything, especially get up, with a tool in your hand.
Everyone has a list of preventative and injury eliminative measures
that they adhere to from bad experiences, i suggested that people
post their lists for the newbies, but no one has, original post:

a few tips: Never bend over with very hot, or sharp things in your
hands, like soldering pics, tweezers, sharp knives

Never walk to somewhere with a sharp instrument in your hands, always
leave it on the workspot

Never get so emotionally pent up or caught up in a buisness venture
incident, that you lose contact with your surroundings, like when
driving a car, or walking, soldering, cutting, tending your child

Always place your hands firmly down and solid, and have a planned
escape route, or hold, that avoids cutting you when operating ALL
tools, electric, or hand, knives, chisels, burs, bandsaws,
chainsaws etc.

Always wear the goggles, even when you don’t feel like it, it could
be the last chance

Never inhale any shop gasses, or dusts, and don’t guess on it, know
what’s happening, and where fumigants?? are going, including when
they leave your shop!!, be considerate

Be extremely careful as a plan,dp