Monday, January 19, 2009

A tragic weekend.

One of my students in my canoe building class is a semi-retired professional woodworker. He is working on a nice Osprey kayak built to plans he purchased from Newfound Woodworks.

At any rate, he called me early on Saturday morning to let me know that he would not be at class as there was a fire at his shop. At the time, he didn't let on as to the seriousness of the fire. The business had been there for 40 years and he lost a significant investment in tools and lumber. Ironically, he was letting a friend of his who was also taking my class store his nearly stripped Wee Lassie canoe in the shop while his kayak strongback happened to be stored at the school's barn. The kayak form was safe while the other gentleman's canoe is a total loss.

The pictures say it all.

This is a sad ending to a life's work. I don't think he's going to re-build. He wasn't carrying insurance after the change in ownership of the property. There is some thought that the stationary tools might not be in bad shape. I spoke with him later and he was waiting for the state fire marshal to get back to him before he'd be allowed to salvage anything. A buddy of mine who is his step-son said that other than ice coating most of the stationary tools, they looked pretty good. I'll help them move thaw and dry the stuff out and we'll evaluate them later. Most of his stock, hand tools and hand-held power tools are a complete loss.
This an excellent reminder for the rest of us. While the cause of the fire isn't nailed down yet, there are lessons we should take away. Be careful with the storage of your solvent-based materials, and the disposal of oil-soaked rags. Clean up your dust and chips and scrap materials as a clean shop is a safe shop. Have good dust collection because airborne dust and an ignition source can cause an explosion and fire.

In the cold weather, let's be careful out there with our heat sources...

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