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Doug Gardner




Location: Southwest Ohio
Joined: 19 Jan 2005

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PostPosted: Thu 14 Jul, 2005 8:26 pm    Post subject: Be careful! Safety first!         Reply with quote

OK, I've been meaning to write this post for some time, but the "cut" discussion on Chad's recent toys thread tells me that now is the time.

The Story A couple months ago, Chad and I were doing some cutting in my back yard. I was slicing a pool noodle up with my Albion Sovereign and was trying to make a rapid series of cuts. I was performing a right handed cut from right to left, and hit too low on the noodle, striking the PVC support that was holding the noodle up. The sword flew backwards out of my grip, striking me on my right forearm, near the elbow. There was no pain. It felt as if the flat of the blade hit my arm before falling to the grass.

It wasn't the flat of the blade. It was the edge, near the tip. I don't know if I saw the blood drip first, or if Chad did. Still no pain. It just felt as if someone hit my forearm with their fist. I couldn't see it very well, but I bent my arm to try to take a look, and it looked pretty deep. I decided I needed to apply pressure, and started looking around for a rag. Chad offered a clean towel, and I applied pressure and excused myself to go up to the house and figure out what to do. I went up to the house, while Chad tried to get things cleaned up and put away. He said he couldn't see any blood on the Sovereign, but wiped it down thoroughly anyway. At the house, I looked at the cut in the mirror. It was about 6cm long, and was probably open about 1/4 inch. I could see white inside. Still no pain. No nausea, no dizziness, and very little blood. Time to go to the hospital and get it stitched up.

Chad was kind enough to take me to the emergency room, where they evaluated the severity (very little bleeding, no signs of shock, and no hysteria). So, we sat for about 45 minutes waiting to see a doctor. One boy in the waiting room asked to see it. I politely declined to show it to him. After all, one shouldn't go around showing one's insides to just anyone! Of course, all of the hospital staff enjoyed the story immensely. After all, it isn't every day that someone slices open their arm while evaluating the performance characteristics of a reproduction of a 13th century sword! Well, not HERE, anyway.

The nurse cleaned the wound. Then the doctor stitched the muscle back together, and while he was stitching the skin back together he commented on how clean the cut was. He said that the blade was obviously extremely sharp. He said that he'd be happy to serve as a reference regarding the cutting performance of the sword. He asked me if I play piano. I said "no. Drums." He said that is fine, that I'll still be able to play drums, but I won't be able to play piano. I asked if the muscle or tendon damage was really going to be permanent. He said no. I wouldn't be able to play piano because I don't know how. Wise guy!

Well, Chad took me home (he never did get his bloody towel back), and everything has healed nicely. Stitches were out in a week, and no infection at all. I can still feel a bump on the bone of my forearm, though.

Fallout I started thinking about what would have happened if my arm wasn't between the sword and me. It was low enough that the blade would have passed beneath my ribcage. I don't know how deep it would have cut. I'm VERY glad that I didn't find out, and I'm sure Chad is as well. As it was, there was very little damage done. It could have been MUCH worse. Shortly after that, I bought Eric Nower's arm and leg defenses. (Thanks, Eric! ) Laughing Out Loud I've begun to piece together harness to go with these sharp little toys I've begun to accumulate.

Moral/Conclusions OK, I don't want to preach, and I really don't want to scare anyone away from a very interesting hobby. To be perfectly frank, I did consider selling my entire collection and getting out of this hobby entirely. However, I'm not going to do that. I do want everyone to think about some things, though. Some of the following questions are questions I intend to ask myself whenever I handle the swords. Others are more for the general community.

Here is my list of questions to ask:
1. How well trained am I? Is it sufficient to do what I'm doing now?
2. Do I know and follow safety rules for handling edged weapons? I know the rules for driving, guns, and for axes and knives (from Boy Scouts), but frankly I've never seen a comparable list for swords.
3. Where am I directing my energy? What would happen in the event of a catastrophic failure? e.g. lose grip, something breaks
4. Am I reasonably well protected in the event of a failure? Is everyone else?
5. Where is everyone else? Is my area clear, and will it still be clear when I finish my move?
6. Am I certain that my judgment is clear (no alcohol, not tired, not in a hurry, and for heaven's sake not mad)

General questions:
7. Do we as a community have a way of communicating and enforcing safety guidelines? What are they?
8. Do we encourage safety enough? Do we demonstrate safe practices?

2 personal questions:
9. OK, fess up. Who else has screwed up like this? What happened, and can anyone else learn from the experience?
10. Do you think knowing about incidents like this will make you think a little more about safety? How will it change what you do?

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this next. I assume that I'll be extra careful for a while. Then I'll relax a bit. I hope that I never again get careless! Finally, I'd like to thank Chad for his help. Not only did he give me a perfectly good towel, drive me to the hospital, and sit around waiting for me to get out, he KEPT HIS HEAD! That made it much easier for me to keep mine. I actually felt quite English during this.
I don't remember the dialog very well, but it very well could have been something like this:
C: Excuse me, but it looks like you have a bit of a scratch.
D: Ah. So I do. Hmmmm... you wouldn't have a small rag I could borrow, would you?
C: Well yes, I think I do. Would you like to borrow this beach towel?
D: Perfect, that would be lovely. Say, would you mind terribly if I stepped up to the house for a second.
C: No, not at all. Take your time. Would you like to take your arm with you?
.....

Take all of this for what it is worth. If my experience saves one stitch, I'm happy. I don't intend for it to change my enthusiasm for the study and appreciation of ancient weapons. But I do want to do it safely.

--Doug

Doug Gardner
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Jul, 2005 9:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Be careful! Safety first!         Reply with quote

Ouch. I can envision the incident clearly. Not a good deal at all. Glad it turned out OK - as you said, it could have been a lot worse, either with the arm or the torso.

I can understand your reaction, though... "hell with this, I'm out of here!" - glad you came back to center and looked again with a clear head.

There are some good things to consider - first and foremost, literally step back a few feet from your test-cutting arena, and ask "what if?". Give it a few minutes to sink in. Do this every time you go outside to cut, practice form, or whatever else you are doing with a pointy.


Ok.. so you asked some specifics, I'll try to give my thoughts on them in turn.

Doug wrote:
Here is my list of questions to ask:
1. How well trained am I? Is it sufficient to do what I'm doing now?
2. Do I know and follow safety rules for handling edged weapons? I know the rules for driving, guns, and for axes and knives (from Boy Scouts), but frankly I've never seen a comparable list for swords.
3. Where am I directing my energy? What would happen in the event of a catastrophic failure? e.g. lose grip, something breaks
4. Am I reasonably well protected in the event of a failure? Is everyone else?
5. Where is everyone else? Is my area clear, and will it still be clear when I finish my move?
6. Am I certain that my judgment is clear (no alcohol, not tired, not in a hurry, and for heaven's sake not mad)


1. Good question - if the answer is honestly no, work up to it, and gain the skill. Finding someone to work with who does possess the skill / training and can pass it on is wonderful, if you can.
2. Rules are similar to knives and guns - keep the edges and point in a safe direction - it's ALWAYS loaded. One slip, and, well, your story and mine, we see the result.
3. What if the heck out of this one - what if it slips, what if I hit something and it twists, what if I cut through - where is the damaged target going to go, what if I don't cut through, what if I miss... This is that few steps back thing...
4. Include the area beside you and behind you as well. Also, look up, and down. A sword that breaks at the shoulders usually doesn't go a long distance, but is still dangerous. Losing grip in the manner you did tends to fling it back or toss it aside, but can do so erratically. Keep a safe distance, and keep others out of the obvious path, at least 10, probably 20 feet away.
5. Always know. Holy crap, would I be upset hearing about an incident like this ever again. I had a childhood friend who was playing with his father's golf clubs. His little brother walked behind him. Hadn't thought about that in probably 20+ years... The kid lived, but had issues...
6. Sober and sufficiently rested. If you are in a hurry, this isn't going to serve any purpose. Mad will decrease your focus - there are better outlets for anger.

Doug wrote:
General questions:
7. Do we as a community have a way of communicating and enforcing safety guidelines? What are they?
8. Do we encourage safety enough? Do we demonstrate safe practices?


7. Every reenactment group, WMA group, LARP group, or whatever has their own safety rules (or should, or should disolve). Do we personally? We often don't stop to think. Let's individually work to change our own culture to pause for safety.
8. I do whenever I am handling pieces, and am extra cautious when others are around. If I am teaching or working with someone else, I always communicate basic "range rules" before we start. We all do get complacent at times - I even thought about the inherent danger of reaching back there by not 1 but 3 longsword points. Done it before... It was stupid on my part.

Doug wrote:
2 personal questions:
9. OK, fess up. Who else has screwed up like this? What happened, and can anyone else learn from the experience?
10. Do you think knowing about incidents like this will make you think a little more about safety? How will it change what you do?


9. I could spend hours on this one. We all know about my boo-boo from the thread that inspired this one. I've had my sword and my opponent's sword break during reenactments. I've hit a target wrong and done anything from a slight strain to the wrist to nearly knocking the blade out of my hand. This is a martial art, not playtime. Just feel like swinging something to swing something, go to the batting cages. Take it seriously.
10. My whole career is around safety (which makes my incident even more stupid). I work really hard to keep people focused on safe work practices so I don't have to use my medical training to pick up the pieces. It's all about awareness, responsibility, and doing the right thing every time. Yeah, these issues raise awareness. Doug, yours should bring to light an issue people may not have thought of - what if I lose control. I hate that there are stories like these to be told, but yes, let's all learn from them.

Doug, thanks for posting this.


Doug wrote:
Take all of this for what it is worth. If my experience saves one stitch, I'm happy. I don't intend for it to change my enthusiasm for the study and appreciation of ancient weapons. But I do want to do it safely.


I'll second that, guys and gals... let's be safe and serious out there.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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W. R. Reynolds




Location: Ramona, CA
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PostPosted: Thu 14 Jul, 2005 9:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doug,

Glad that you are alright. I predict a full recovery. You're "back on the horse" and with a sense of humor. Loved the English bit. Hilarious.

Bill

"No matter who wins the rat race.......they are still a rat."
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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 6:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think this is a very good and sensible post. When handling things as sharp as some of these blades and with a lot of momentum behind them, care is essential. Even with care unfortunately there is still a risk of injury. Glad you're still in one piece. And safety doesn't just apply to sharp blades. When I was on holiday in the Outer Hebrides a couple of weeks ago the news said a re-enactment chap had died in a historical re-enactment display in the UK from a blow to the head from a blunt medieval replica sword. Apparently he was wearing a helm too, so care in all departments is necessary.

Loved the 'English' bit. Though to be true to the stiff upper-lip tradition you and Chad should really have had a cup of tea and some cucumber sandwiches before retiring to the emergency ward at the hospital, engaging in polite conversation about the weather and completely ignoring the fact you were bleeding to death.

We should all be sensible. I recall when I was much younger and a friend and I met in Covent Garden in London (historical scene of many duels) for a drink. I had been to fencing class so had all my kit with me. Being young and a little drunk we decided to fence epee at midnight in the middle of Covent Garden with no plastrons and more importantly no masks. We survived unscathed (with a lot of Japanese tourists taking photos), but the next day when I examined the graze across my hairline and he the disctinct mark on his left cheek, we realised that if that epee point had gone towards someone's eye, blindness at best or possibly penetration to the brain could have ocurred, and we had a second think about the wisdom of our actions. Our mistake was through youthful idiocy rather than a genuine accident as yours was but I think all these experiences should make us realise that caution, care and forethought are really essential when handling any sword, be it sports fencing, re-enactment or a genuine antique.

Daniel
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Doug Gardner




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Bill,

Yes, I'm pretty much fully recovered as far as I can tell. I don't know yet if I'll ever be able to predict the weather with it!

Aaron, I thought of another good question to ask:
q: Is there someone here to help if anything happens?

Kind of like the buddy system when swimming. As it was, if nobody was around I could have walked up to the house and driven myself to the hospital. However, we were way in the back and out of sight. If I was alone and more seriously injured... Eek!

So, are there existing safety guidelines published somewhere? I've found a lot for fencing and for tournaments, but not much on cutting and handling sharps.
http://www.alliancemartialarts.com/testcutting.htm

If I can't find a thorough list somewhere, I'll begin to put one together, with help from the community. But there is no sense duplicating this work if it has already been thoroughly done.

Doug Gardner
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Edward Hitchens




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Doug. I'm sure glad you're okay. I get 'bitten' now and then myself. I have very specific rules governing my swords around the house:

1. Treat every sword with the same respect and caution as though you were holding a loaded firearm.
2. When walking around the house with a sword, hold it by the grip with the point downward towards the floor.
3. No carrying more than 2 swords at one time around the house.
4. If someone else is handing you a sword, say "Thank you." This is not only polite, but it tells the other person that you have a good grip and that it's safe to let go.
5. Common sense prevails!

Don't feel bad or embarrassed; we all make mistakes that end up being learning experiences anyway. Your incident could have been a lot worse - somebody sure was watching out for you! Happy
-Ted

"The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest." Thomas Jefferson
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 7:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I started reading this thread from the bottom up. I knew before I reached the original post that the sword was most probably a Sovereign. Albion sharpens the Sovereign to a near razor edge. It is the only sword in my collection that has drawn my blood, though in my case just a drop.

In some ways swords can be just as dangerous to the user as a firearm. Just as a shooter must be aware of his backstop, a weekend swordsman must be conscious of the possibility that his sword will impact something other than its intended target. Respect the edge, and treat your sword as a deadly weapon deserves to be treated.

Think of how you would feel if you lost control of your sword and injured a friend or bystander, rather than yourself. This should motivate even the most macho swordsman to pay attention to what he is up to.
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 7:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doug Gardner wrote:
Aaron, I thought of another good question to ask:
q: Is there someone here to help if anything happens?

Kind of like the buddy system when swimming. As it was, if nobody was around I could have walked up to the house and driven myself to the hospital. However, we were way in the back and out of sight. If I was alone and more seriously injured... Eek!


Unless I am working with someone, I cut almost exclusively by my self. It's meditative, self-centering (not self-centered, I mean refocusing, balancing), somewhat cleansing for me. I always have my cellphone handy, though, and 9-1-1-send is easy enough to do, and it's GPS-enabled, so even if I couldn't speak, I could still be found.

Doug Gardner wrote:
So, are there existing safety guidelines published somewhere? If I can't find a thorough list somewhere, I'll begin to put one together, with help from the community. But there is no sense duplicating this work if it has already been thoroughly done.


I haven't looked, but wouldn't be surprised if one of the WMA groups doesn't have something out there... if not, this is likely a worthwhile endeavor.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 7:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been thinking about these issues recently. I no longer aspire to any WMA activity, so I've eliminated the risks inherent in that activity. I don't think there's much research value in test cutting, so ditto there. But storage and display pose serious risks of their own, as many of us can attest. I now have a nephew and niece who could get into my collection and possibly get cut if they were to run their hands down a blade. Currently, my sharps are secured to the back of their shelf by means of brass cup hooks. You have to slide and turn the weapons a certain way to remove them from the shelf. But that doesn't really solve the whole problem.

I'm toying with a design for a vertical display that would essentialy be an open-sided wooden cube that would fit neatly in a corner. I'd insert plexiglass panels on the open sides and the swords would display point down, so that the blades could still be seen but not touched. For an extra measure of safety, it'd be easy to modify cup hooks into simple turning latches that could prevent small children from easily removing the swords from the display. This would also be a handy way to display polearms, which could simply slide into holes in the back edges of the display.

In general, I agree that sharps should be treated like loaded and charged firearms (without safeties!), and I make that clear to people who handle them. Don't play, don't point it at anything or anyone you don't want to destroy, be hyper-aware of all parts of the weapon as they relate to your surroundings, etc.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Chris Last




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 10:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My group has hundreds of people each day we do our events handling our weapons. From the get go our rules are simple, they are real weapons that can kill, don't swing them around, don't play with them, and keep the most damaging end pointed towards the sky. We haven't had a problem yet in regards to our displays, but I think that has more to do with our folks who man them than anything else.

As for screw ups. Ya we have a few of those. In the last 10 years (over 180 days of events total) of my involvement with my group we've only had 4 things that have required medical attention involving weapons.

1. Stage Combat accident causing a blunted sword to smash the webbing between a participants fingers. Required Stitches. Solution: Stage Combat practices have been revamped to incorporate SAFD safety principles.

2. While training with Staff/Spear in the form of pudgels one member got hit in the mouth and it caused a tooth to be loose and deaden. After time the tooth has healed itself. Solution: We have changed the padding on our pugdels to be more consistent throughout. Taking ideas form the WMA community in regards to sparring weapons.

3. During some discussion and demonstration with blunted rapiers, I took the bad bounce of a blade to the face. The blunted edge pierced my left cheek just to the outside of my nose. My main concern was for my wedding phots that would be occuring in a month's time. Happy Solution: No matter how period we are trying to be we wear masks when working with swords.

4. During a musket demonstration one member who had his own match had an ember blow into his muzzle while loading. This caused the weapons powder charge to discharge directly into his mouth. He had burns in his nose and mouth and couldn't taste things for weeks. He is fine now. Solution no one, even if they have their own gear, gets a lit match until after the muskets are loaded. And then the period drill of keeping the match in the off hand away from the muzzle and pan until ready to fire is used.

" Hang fires are all fun and games untill someone gets their eye poked out... by charging calvary." - J.Shoemaker

Chris Last
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Eric Myers




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 11:25 am    Post subject: Re: Be careful! Safety first!         Reply with quote

Doug Gardner wrote:
9. OK, fess up. Who else has screwed up like this? What happened, and can anyone else learn from the experience?


Apart from the occasion bruising involved in practicing a martial art, I think we have had 2 sword cuts in about 8 years. The first was in our early days of test cutting, and were preceded by my saying "No Jim, you're not doing it right, let me show you how." My false edge tondo hit the target, the sword ripped out of my hand, whipped around and gave me 2" long cut on my ribcage, through my tshirt. It hurt but didn't need stitches, and it made us stop goofing around and pay more attention to form, safety, etc. The second cut was the result of too much followthrough on a cut - the tip hit the ground, the sword bounced backwards like that trick with a baseball bat, and cut the wielder's knuckle pretty bad. He got stitches and it took awhile to heal, but he's fine now, and still can't play the piano (love that doctor's sense of humor).

We are pretty careful when we cut. We watch out for each other's condition, attention span, etc, we clear the area before cutting, we start new people on easy cuts and work them slowly up to full cuts with body movement and footwork, etc.

Eric Myers
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William Goodwin




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 11:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All the above mentioned pre-cautions plus........plenty of yellow "CAUTION" tape. One of the last demo/presentations I did for a school, I had so much tape stretched out, someone commented that it looked like a crime scene............. WTF?!


Bill

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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 7:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What follows happened a couple of years ago. It happened at a public demonstration. Bugei wara sit tall on a stand, reaching for that first cut got me in trouble.

A mixed blessing, steel-toe boots. In a series of three downward diagonals on a mat, I overpowered the first cut. The tip of the katana skated over the steel of my left boot and while pulling out of the cut, slid the kissaki up under the steel and through the web of my second and third toe. Of course, this was after telling some onlookers not to try this at home.

I finished the other two cuts and looked down and thought "oops".

While waiting for transport and stitching, I had some time to reflect on this. They were all good cuts but I did over power the first. Somewhere I read that true control is using only the force needed. Without the steel toes, I probably would have faired worse but made me think about that most of my cutting at home is barefoot and usually in pajamas.

This resulted in eight stitches between two toes.
```````
We've done a couple of these meet and greets now. We do rope off a sizable area and cut well away from spectators. A JSAer has pointed out that being in front of a cutter is actually safer than being behind one, if a sword gets loose.

I also had a display incident and got a gash from a blade. My A&A GBS hangs from a yoke (to clear the side ring) and I was reaching for a guitar leaning against the same wall. A tuning peg caught the blade and unhooked the sword. It was a small gash but deep. Swords on the walls now wear scabbards.

My two other stupid human tricks involve axes, long ago. Skeet splitting kindling with a rather sharp little cruising axe. Several stitches to that ankle. Lazily swinging a freshly sharpened double bit between my legs while chatting to someone and catching the inside of the same ankle.

There are a few of us sword safety poster boys out there. Don Rice, over at SFI seems to be the best caveat so far. His accident made my few stitches seem irrelevant but they're not. This is a dangerous hobby and any lack of attention can result in serious injury.

Also to consider is that most health insurance doesn't cover dangerous hobbies. My incident with the katana was during a time when I was working with a loss prevention and safety manager who was recovering from a jet-ski accident that nearly killed him. We got a lot of raised eyebrows at work.

Be careful out there. Know your sword and don't let go.

GC
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 8:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would like to second the fellow who said 'Be sober AND BE RESTED.'

More mistakes happen when tired then any other time. Oh, sure, you've been waiting 6 weeks for that new Albion, and it just happens to come when you happen to have been up all night working, so you think you'll go hit a pool noodle with it... and have an accident. That sort of thing happens all the time with other dangerous objects. Tired is bad.

What are the boyscout rules for knives?

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Doug Gardner




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 8:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for the stories and recommendations. Keep them coming!

As soon as I get a chance I'll compile the safety principles. Right now, I'm thinking that there are two (maybe 3) classes:
1. Rules
2. Guidelines
(3?) Suggestions

Rules will be things like "no intoxicants," and "ensure a clear area". These are things that everyone should observe every time they cut (handle, etc)

Guidelines will be things like: "Buddy system" These are things that are a really good idea, but that a reasonable person could choose to defer if they have some other means to get help (cell phone, companion watching from inside, neighbor checking in once a day to have the body removed before it stinks. Things like that) Laughing Out Loud

Suggestions could be things that a reasonable individual might want to seriously consider. Things like: "I won't cut without safety gear" or "always wear gloves" and maybe "never cut with anyone who has a cutting story!" Eek!

Daniel,

Thanks for the clarification on proper etiquette! I must admit I didn't even THINK about having a nice cup of tea that afternoon, and my garden has only begun producing cucumbers within the last 2 weeks or so. However, we did chat politely about a variety of topics, and I even gave Chad a lesson in how to drive a tractor before retiring to the emergency ward. I think I have the concept down pretty well, but I still need to work on the details. I'm afraid my accent needs some work, too. I think it shifts (rather distressingly, I'm sure) from Oxford to Eaton to Australia, with an occasional bit of Cockney and Monty Python thrown in for good measure. I wouldn't be too surprised if it didn't pass through western Tennessee on the way! WTF?!

So, does anyone have a good source for steel toed turnshoes? Big Grin

--Doug

Doug Gardner
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Doug Gardner




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul, 2005 9:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
What are the boyscout rules for knives?


Hi George,

http://www.troop125bsa.com/knife.htm
http://www.scoutingresources.org.uk/camping_axe.html
http://www.scoutingresources.org.uk/camping_knife.html#safety
http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/skills/b-p/axe_saw.htm

There are actually some interesting principles here.
1. No one is permitted to carry or use a knife until they have demonstrated knowledge of safe handling and use to an experienced instructor
2. The right to carry a knife can be revoked at any time.
3. Knives, axes, etc. are not to be carried routinely. Only when needed.
4. Maintenance is part of safety. Keep a knife clean and very sharp.
5. For axework, choose the chopping area carefully. Flat, good footing, good clearance (no obstructions on ground, around, overhead), mark the area clearly
6. No loose clothing in the chopping area
7. Always wear sturdy boots
8. Make sure if you miss a target, your swing will go into a safe backstop
9. When passing a knife, axe or saw, the person receiving it must say "Thank You" to indicate that they have a solid grip on it. Thank You is your indication that it is safe to let go.

And there are a lot of other details about how to carry and how to make cuts.

Keep in mind that some of these work for scouting, but may be inappropriate in this discussion. For instance, nobody is going to tell me that my right to cut in my own yard has been revoked! However, I think the principle is sound. It could be perfectly reasonable for someone (say, the host of a roundtable event) to ask a guest to put a sword down or to leave if they feel that the individual is not handling it safely. At any rate, a scout is not permitted to carry or use a knife, axe, or saw until they have passed the required safety evaluation and earned the "Tote n chip" card. Any scout leader can demand to see that card if a scout is packing steel. And they can take it from them if the scout demonstrates unsafe practices. That doesn't eliminate accidents, but they do believe that it cuts down on them. Pardon the pun. Wink

Hmmm... I haven't really thought about this stuff for over 20 years! Thanks for bringing up those memories, George!

--Doug

Doug Gardner
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jul, 2005 4:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Slogan on one of my son's T-shirts: "Scars are tattoos with better stories"
BTW, my son is an Eagle Scout, and scrupulously follows the rules for knife handling.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jul, 2005 7:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doug,
Thanks for posting this. Don't worry about the towel, we have plenty more. Happy

This was an eye-opening experience for me. I think I'd grown somewhat complacent, sometimes forgetting the intended purpose of these weapons. And weapons they are: if designed properly, they will effectively maim and/or kill their intended target. Or an unintended target, like Doug's arm....

In the group cutting sessions I've done since then, I've tried to be more careful about where I am in relation to the cutter. At my party in a few weeks, I'll be strict about what directions people cut in and where the rest of us are in relation.

I'm glad Doug decided not to sell off his stuff, though I can understand how those thoughts could go through your head after that kind of experience.

I'm glad it wasn't more serious, and I'm glad we got you taken care of. But it's all food for thought.

Happy

ChadA

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Doug Gardner




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jul, 2005 8:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
I'm glad Doug decided not to sell off his stuff, though I can understand how those thoughts could go through your head after that kind of experience.


Yes, Chad, so am I. Wink In fact, this little incident is likely to end up costing me quite a bit! I think I'm becoming an advocate of safety gear. Well, and we all know what "Safety Gear" means for sword collectors, don't we? I'm thinking 15th century, to start. Big Grin Although a nice maille hauberk would be more portable! I've already posted some questions regarding an arming garment, bought functional arm and leg defenses, and ordered a pair of gauntlets. I'm going to order a few more pieces after my arming doublet comes in and I can take measurements. OK, so more modern materials might give sufficient cut resistance at a fraction of the cost without sacrificing comfort, but a kevlar aketon or bike leathers wouldn't exactly pass as "Period" would it? Laughing Out Loud And it wouldn't look nearly as cool on a stand in the corner, which, honestly, is where this stuff is going to spend the lion's share of its time. Sad

Even at that, I'm not sure I'll routinely cut wearing a full harness. Certainly not in high summer! Eek! But I think there are some basic pieces of safety gear that would be appropriate for routine cutting, even if they would be inappropriate for living history or re-enactments. Heavy (perhaps steel toed) boots, gloves, jeans, and a heavy shirt or vest would seem to me to be a minimum, and for the same reasons that it isn't really a good idea to cut the grass or chop wood in shorts and sandals. No offense intended to the shorts and sandals crowd. Cool

--Doug

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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 6:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a few things that should go through our heads when heading out to the yard for some form work or cutting, and even when just handling pieces on/from display. First, remember it's a potentially dangerous activity just being around them - the exposure is significant (just look at my nice new scar WTF?! ). Always be mindful of the edge(s) and point, and their relation to you, other people, the dog, the couch, the ceiling... If you are heading out, make sure the ground is stable and dry, and that you have proper footwear that will give you solid footing. Stretch beforehand, and do some lighter work to gain a feel before heavier work. Ensure adequate clearance. Think about what if... Keep your head on straight. Exercise good housekeeping. Discuss the safety issues with anyone else who might be around. Active safety practices such as these should keep us from having most accidents.

BUT...

Doug brings up a good point about what is appropriate for passive safety - protective clothing. I do have a suggestion for a fairly decent, inexpensive outer garment that is actually quite comfortable... a 570 Newton fencing tunic made by Triplette Competition Arms (aka Zen Warrior Armory) primarily for SCA fencing. Order the same size as you would a sport coat or suit jacket - that will give you the proper give. It velcros shut on the left, from the bottom to the neck. It's really easy to get on and off, but doesn't pop open, even with very rowdy fencing bouts. It does get hot, though, so keep drinking water or a sports drink, and open it up when you are taking a break.


http://www.zenwarriorarmory.com/index.htm - check out the SCA Clothing link.

Also, a 3-weapon fencing mask is really pretty inexpensive, and fairly easy to deal with. I sprayed the inside of my mask with military ultra-flat matte spray paint to cut any glare out, and can see perfectly well.

Put on a pair of fencing gauntlets or swordsman's gloves, and you are pretty well protected from the mid thigh to the top of your head. Add a decent pair of jeans and some boots, and you have a decent suit of modern armour. Won't prevent everything, but should eliminate or significantly minimize most stuff.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Fortior Qui Se Vincit
(He is stronger who conquers himself.)
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