Why I Wear Safety Glasses

brian forbes westfarthing woodworks author biography about me experience

I’m deaf in one ear, which is why I wear safety glasses. Stick around with me for a little longer and you will understand what I mean. When I was born, the three small bones that transfer vibration from the ear drum to the auditory nerves never developed.

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So I am completely deaf in one ear. I have never known what surround sound audio sounds like, and I get two for one on every set of ear plugs I buy. This is why I wear safety glasses.

Why I Wear Safety Glasses

safety glassesMost people take for granted that they can see and hear. I understand why, because the vast majority of people were born with two good eyes and two good ears.

The problem with that line of thinking is that it only takes a blink of an eye to lose one. Also, by the time you do notice you are going deaf, someone else will have to shout it at you so you can hear it.

By the time any of these things happen, it’s too late to do anything about it. The even sadder thing is that it only takes a couple seconds to protect yourself in the shop. Yes, you have to spend that couple seconds every time, over and over.

However, let me tell you from experience that it’s well worth it. I have a couple stories. One that is kind of funny, and one that I am not very proud of. Both demonstrate the importance of wearing your personal protective equipment when you are working in the shop.

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I was born deaf in one ear, so I never knew I was partially deaf until someone told me. It only came to my parents’ attention when I started failing hearing tests in grammar school. I was a energetic kid at the time, so my parents had a feeling I was having fun with the person doing the test.

We all remember the hearing tests in school. Raise your right hand when you hear the tone, then raise your left hand when you hear the tone. Apparently, my right hand worked just fine but my left needed an air raid siren to make it move. I am also pretty sure that it was so loud my right ear was actually hearing it through the ear muffs.

Had I thought if the idea at the time, I was definitely the kind of kid who would not raise my hand even when I heard the tone. I liked to have fun with people, and that would have made them scratch their heads for sure. However, this was not me just having fun.

After a medical test at a hospital, they told me I was deaf in one ear. My parents were sad of course, but I really had no other perspective. I really hadn’t lost anything, because I never had it to begin with. Plus, if the house was loud, I could just put my good ear on the pillow and fall right asleep in silence. Being half deaf did have some benefits.

After that, I made sure that I wore ear plugs (at my parent’s insistence) when I did loud activities like playing electric guitar and when I practiced with the band I was in. I hated it at the time, but it kept my one good ear from losing the hearing I had left. It also showed me that protecting my senses was important.

Safety Glasses and the Lathe

safety glassesMy second story is about the time I learned about safety glasses on the lathe. This demonstrates the importance of using the proper equipment, not just safety glasses. Yes, glasses are important, but you really need to use the right protective equipment for the tool you are using. A lathe requires more than safety glasses, which I learned very quickly.

When I bought my new lathe I was really excited. I got it home and immediately started assembling it. About an hour later I was the proud new owner of a mid size lathe from a discount tool store. (It was all I could afford, and I still have it.)

I knew from my time working for a high end tool retailer that I needed to wear a face shield before I used the lathe. However, the excitement of having a new tool and all the things I could make with it overwhelmed me.

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I found the first piece of wood that looked about the size of a bowl and screwed it to the face plate. I donned my safety glasses, and went to work with my new roughing gouge. Once I had the outside rounded off, and switched to a fingernail gouge to hollow the inside. That’s when it all wen’t wrong.

I caught the gouge inside the wood, and the piece exploded off the face plate. It happened in a split second. I heard a piece crack against the wall like a professional baseball pitcher had thrown it. At that same time, I felt something hit my face like I had been in a fight.

The other half of the bowl-that-never-would-be hit me dead square in the safety glasses. It was a one in a million hit that completely missed my face. My safety glasses took the entire blow, but it felt like I was punched.

I ran to the bathroom to see the damage. Thankfully I only had a couple red marks from where the feet of the safety glasses dug into my nose. It took a few minutes for me to calm down, but I realized that I was not going to the hospital, and that made me come down a little faster.

The very next thing I did was turn off the lathe, and drive to the hardware store to buy a face shield. On top of that, I have never used my lathe without it since.

Why I Wear Safety Glasses and Other Protective Equipment:

safety glassesFor all intents and purposes, I consider myself to be a safe woodworker. I have made some mistakes, but thankfully I made it out of them without anything permanent.

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Having been deaf in one ear for my entire life really showed me the importance of protecting the senses that I have left. It’s a little odd that it made me more conscious about wearing safety glasses, but as a woodworker you need your eyes more than anything.

When I am in the shop, I wear ear protection when it’s loud, safety glasses or a face shield when working with tools, and other personal protective equipment when needed. It’s a small chore. If something happens to me I know I will be able to continue pursuing the passion that I have. Woodworking is second only to my family, and I would be devastated if something happened to me because I did not take a couple seconds to protect myself.

I really hope you enjoyed these two stories about me, and I hope even more that you wear your safety glasses and any other protective equipment that you need while you are working in your shop. The time you need it will be the instance that makes all the other times you wore them worth the extra few seconds. Be safe in the shop. You owe it to yourself and to your family.

If you have any questions on Why I Wear Safety Glasses, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest!

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brian forbes westfarthing woodworks llc owner

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