Dressing the part
February 23, 2011barriehol
Moving straight into confessional mode I admit that for a long time I have somewhat scorned a neighbour of mine for his fastidious attention to detail when it comes to his personal safety. As an example if he is cutting a tree stump up for logs he kits himself out in a reinforced leather work suit, helmet, reinforced gloves, steel capped work boots and eye protection. I saw this as completely over the top for what is a simple “man’s job” when I by comparison in my old cotton boiler suit shun all of this paraphernalia and the wood seems to cut just as well as his.
The other day I had cause to regret my dismissive attitude. I was in the workshop trying to temper – that’s harden – a piece of steel with a plumbers blowlamp. I have quite a large area of block paved drive and to save hiring an expensive piece of kit I find removing the accumulated moss and dirt from the joints works best with a modified screwdriver ground into a wedge shape.
Screwdrivers are short and I was finding the hands and knees approach back breaking for a man of a certain age. So I hit on the idea of making a longer version that I could use from an upright position, hence the tempered steel bar.
However I digress from the main point. In a sequence of events resembling a Brian Rix farce (now there’s a dateline for you!!) I had the blow torch on full flame in one hand heating the steel held safely as I thought, at the opposite end of the bar in the other hand.
Even though the bar was quite long after a short while I felt my end heating up. I was nearly there temperature wise at the business end so held on – too long. Suddenly all was too much to bear. I tried to put the torch hastily down on the bench at the same time reaching sideways to drop the steel in the quenching bath. The torch tipped over setting fire to my sleeve and in the chaos that ensued I dislodged a sheet of 18mm MDF board that fell precisely onto my left foot. Ouch!
Now had I been my neighbour I would have one been wearing heavy duty gloves, been togged out in a fire resistant boiler suit and had safety boots on my feet. What I would not have had is a dressing on my left arm and a limp. Lesson learnt.