Stasonis

Kidproofing a shop

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I'm lucky enough to have a pretty spacious garage where I have started setting up shop. Unfortunately, living in New England, we also like to put our cars in there. And since cars, tools, and all other manner of garage goodies inevitably interest young kids, my two year old son tends to spend quite a bit of time in there as well. So my question is this: Has anybody done anything clever to kidproof their shop? I'm already pretty diligent about unplugging everything, lowering my table saws blade beneath the table, removing the router bit or hiding it behind the fence, but I'm about to purchase a bandsaw and I'm pretty sure he'll be able to reach the blade. Also, as I end up acquiring more tools, both power and hand, I'm just not confident I'll always remember to get everything out of reach and unplugged.

I've thought about adding master switch/breaker to turn everything off and just hooking a light to it so I can easily tell when I forget to turn things off, but any other advice on keeping all my child's fingers attached?

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I too have interested young ones, shop time together is not going to be you two doing projects, its more like baby sitting them in the garage and letting them explore. At that age, they are just too young. Think about their safety, not just hands but eye, ear and respiratory protection. They dont make much for that age group. If you do make something together, you may want to do all the cutting before hand and perhaps just do assembly together on simple projects. And make sure the garage has ample time to clear out the dust before bringing them in.

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This is a good example of a good

Charles Neil doing a "build a birdhouse" workshop. Kids can paint, glue, and older kids can use a hand saw or hammer and nails.

For kid proofing, I like the idea of a master switch on all the power tools and outlets - everything but the lights and the garage door opener. Just like the kitchen, all sharp blades locked away or above the kid's reach. But really, with dust and splinters and noise, I wouldn't let a 2 year old in while I was working. Maybe clean up and kid proof everything and then let him in to explore and show&tell.

I once helped a friend with a project in his back yard, and the kids had to watch through the windows from inside the house. That was a great solution: we didn't have to worry about their safety (or ours if they tripped us up or distracted us), and they got to watch without being constantly told, "NO!"

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When my kids were at that age they loved glueing things together,I would grab a bunch of scraps and let their imagination (and glue) run wild! They make the cutest projects, no idea what they are, but I will have some of them for ever. What I did was make sure I had clothes we did't care about(one of your t-shirts on their little bodies makes the best pictures),a tarp to contain the mess, and a bunch of wet wipes. I had gotten a small pair of saftey glasses for them right away just for fear of them rubbing their eyes. Makes great memories.

As far as saftey goes, the best thing would be if you can run your outlets on seperate breakers than your lights and just shut it off when you aren't working in there, thats a common setup and what I did when I built my shop. A few years ago I had seen on New Yankee Workshop Norm was in a shop where the owner had a kill switch installed so you had to put a key in and turn it on to send current to all the outlets. I tried searching the net for it but with no luck, I can't remember the name of the unit and maybe someone else will. To help make sure you don't forget to shut off the breakers or unplug something hang your keys, coat, or whatever you grab when you leave the shop right on your breaker box or in a awkward place as a reminder. If that doesn't work you can always do something by the door that trigers the memory, one thing I do is when I have the windows open in the shop I have a long string with a small rare earth magnet glued to each end of it that I stick to a screw that is right above my walk through door and one beside the door casing. It gets in the way when I open the door so it's almost like a reminding slap in the face to shut the windows, works for me anyways.

As for the bandsaw, what I did that solved the problem for me was take a scrap of 3/4" wood about 4" wide and as long as the exposed section of blade on your saw. Just make a kerf cut about 3 1/2" deep the length of the board and slide the exposed part blade on your bandsaw into the kerfcut. To make sure it can't fall off drill a hole to put a bolt or pin in the board trapping the blade in the kerf. One thing I suggest it paint it a bright color like red or orange as a warning. Show your child it and make sure they know it is an ouchie.

For hand tools or other dangers my best advice is a cabinet that is up high.

Glad to see that you are enjoying your time with your kids and keeping them safe, take care.

Nate

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There are a lot of good ideas here and some that I may put into play. The most important part of kidproofing a shop is to train them and supervise them. I have 7 kids, 13 y.o. down to 1 y.o. A lot of the time I end up spending more time on their projects than my own.

Teach them what is safe and not safe to do/touch and be consistant. Having kids 5 and under doesn't lend itself to being the most productive use of my time in the shop but it is far more productive in making memories for and with the kids.

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The only way I know to completely kid-proof the shop is to not have kids.

Putting the bright orange or "danger tape" over blade covers, (couple of dowels with cardboard or 1/4" plywood tacked to it to "box in" the bandsaw blade) is a great idea. But some kids get that "no" message in their head, and that means "oooo! Touch now!" Definately put the master power switch on each tool. You know the ones, where you have to push through a hole to turn on, but only slap to shut off. (See one of Marc's early videos for an example on the table saw.) the deadman switches are great ideas, especially if you have to put it in a spot little hands cannot reach or smaller bodies cannot put weight against while simultaneously touching the sharp blades. Some cars had a magnetic "kill switch" that prevented ignition, but not running. perhaps a version for the power switch?

The best way to keep kids from exploring on their own is to put the power to each tool on a breaker that cannot get accessed by younger hands. Keep eye and ear protection on hand, and cut materials while they sit on the far side of the shop (for smaller cuts, anyway. I would not let them watch me do plywood on a tablesaw until they were at least Tweenagers.) Once the tools are off, let them help with assembly. Getting the kids involved in the build is a great way of teaching them shop safety. The sooner they realize the shop is not a playground, the safer everybody will be. (First hand - no pun intended - experience on this. Fortunately, mine really don't remember much of the incident. They think they ran into the screen door and broke the glass. Since my two have no desire to enter the shop, I let them continue with this thought.)

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Unfortunately locking the door isn't really an option. My shop is in the garage, and thus is a space he will be going through quite frequently, even if only to get in the car. I may have access to a keyed switch which I'm going to wire up all the shop outlets to, so hopefully that'll be a good first step.

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I know a few of my tools have the little key that you can take out of switch so that you can't power it on. I think my Ridgid tools have it, and maybe my Craftsman Drill Press too. Maybe not the first line of defense, but good as a second or third.

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The best way to kid proof the shop is educate them. If they are interested they will respect the tools and participate, if not go the keyed access route. I have a 6yo that helps from time to time and understands shop safety due to constant educating on my part.

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I did the sub panel in the shop/garage with a lock. I looked at the ones that you put the key in, to switch on the power but they were very expensive. So I just have a padlock on the panel door. Switch off the master, lock the panel and all the tools and outlets are out. I also have a wooden raised floor on the shop side of the garage (which has been great), and we have a strict rule that if you go on the floor without being invited by me it is immediate punishment(no excesses, explanations or exceptions). It has actually worked very well now for several years just having that clear boundary. I also think that education is a necessary part of safety which means that when the kids are out there I stop what I am doing and answer any question on any tool and explaining how to use them and what makes them dangerous. I have also as they get old enough let them use some of the tools.

A related note for when the kids are in the shop is they have to wear the same protection I am, so I found safety glasses that are kid sized at Lee Valley and got a pair for each of them. They also each have their own hearing protection (muff style). For dust I use the cloth style masks since nothing else fits right, though when I am making a lot of dust (i.e. cutting up MDF on the TS) I don't let them be out there.

That is some of what I do.

-Gary

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My kids love the shop and have been in there since they could walk, I didn't get anything done back then, but the important part is they were with me. It is a way of life for them and by now they know the rules but my eyes are still always on them. One side note, in all my effort on getting them to know the rules and be as safe as possible it has made me safer as well, and if I don't have my safety glasses on I hear about it!!

Nate

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Separate circuits is a great idea if you can do it.

Embracing kids in a shop can be a great time for both kid and parent. Just don't have too big plans about actually getting a lot done. Attention spans are short.

It is a good time to focus on safety both with smaller glasses (the small goggles are horrible) and if they are real young, avoiding ear protection by avoiding powertools is a good idea.

Basic safety, no running in the shop.

Hand tool habits are good to enforce too.

  • Both hands on the tool, no hands on the wood.
  • Secure the wood in a vise or with clamps. I am a big fan of the Stanley miter box with the built in cam action pegs for securing wood for crosscuts.

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Separate circuits is a great idea if you can do it.

Embracing kids in a shop can be a great time for both kid and parent. Just don't have too big plans about actually getting a lot done. Attention spans are short.

It is a good time to focus on safety both with smaller glasses (the small goggles are horrible) and if they are real young, avoiding ear protection by avoiding powertools is a good idea.

Basic safety, no running in the shop.

Hand tool habits are good to enforce too.

  • Both hands on the tool, no hands on the wood.
  • Secure the wood in a vise or with clamps. I am a big fan of the Stanley miter box with the built in cam action pegs for securing wood for crosscuts

Just noticed that this is 4kids' first posting. He has a great blog about kids stuff on this site. Likely anybody interested in this thread will really like his blog. Heck, I found it interesting and I have no kids that I'm aware of. B)

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Just noticed that this is 4kids' first posting. He has a great blog about kids stuff on this site. Likely anybody interested in this thread will really like his blog. Heck, I found it interesting and I have no kids that I'm aware of. B)

Thanks Paul-Marcel for the referral. I've been lurking a while, but am usually pretty quiet. Appreciate this site a lot.

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Just don't have too big plans about actually getting a lot done. Attention spans are short.

This is actually the general operating rule in my house. The kids usually get more done than I do.

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If you haven't come up with a solution yet, here is what I did.

Hand power tools were locked in a cabinet.

For stationary tools I added circuits that could be locked out. Walls were already finished so I ran two 20 amp circuits to the shop in the basement through a electrical box that could be padlocked. From the box I ran conduit around the shop, one circuit on each side. I put in outlets every 5', lots of options and no extensions needed. I replaced the plugs on the tools with ones that had one blade vertical and one blade horizontal. The new outlets would accept them as well as a regular plug. The special plugs could not be plugged into the old wall outlets.

The boys had their bench with a good sharp handsaw, small vice, hammer and nails.

As they progressed they were allowed more use of power tools. By middle school I no longer need to lock things.

Boys are grown and have their own shops and I moved so can't supply a picture.

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