Some real live photos     
Machine Safety
© Frank Ford, 2008; Photos by FF 

Of all the traditional machine tools, I suspect the lathe is potentially the most deadly. That's one reason we spend a fair amount of time talking about technique and safety issues.  I've made a few visits to a school shop where I have had some interesting photo opportunities, so I thought I'd share my small collection here. 

These are real, not made-up situations or staged photos unless I specify that I've re-credated the scene. Now, please understand that all shops have lots of "potential" accidents that are averted by observant and skilled teachers or co-workers.  I present these only as an opportunity for reinforcing the safety rules we've all heard, but sometimes "relax" a bit too much.

The first is often regarded as the number one mistake for lathe operators, and the photo speaks for itself and the imminent danger:

The was no one in the machine room when I took this photo.

On a different lathe, not one but TWO issues -

First, the tool post:

The lathe tool bit is mounted sideways!  I can only imagine what happened as it tried to cut metal.

The same lathe, same time, the tailstock:

A bit unclear on concept here, with a #3 Morse taper dead center held in a drill chuck. I suppose the student somehow missed the description of how one mounts tapered tooling in the tailstock. Even with the chuck tightened mightily, there would be so little resistance to the taper being dislodged that it's an obvious safety hazard, for sure.

The next two pictures are of an accident that did happen, fortunately without injury to anyone or anything but the work piece.

This piece of stainless tubing was ejected from the chuck, and the lathe operator was ejected from the class:

After being told that the process would be too dangerous, and after being specifically told NOT to do it that way, this person still insisted on chucking the heavy stainless tube, holding it by only the last couple of inches. Then, trying to face the END of the tube, the lathe bit dug in, and the piece was ripped out of the chuck, flinging at high speed. Fortunately it hit the backsplash of the lathe and not someone in the room.

The instructor had given reasonable directions for facing off the end of this tube.  A plug should have been made to fit in the end to avoid crushing the tube in the chuck, and a steady rest should have been set up to support it near the right end. Then the job could have gone safely. The student decided it would take too much time to do it that way. . .

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