Slowed Down By The Machine.

by | Jun 11, 2013 | 4 comments

If you read our blog regularly then you’ll probably have picked up that I love my hand tools but would never deny my dependence on a few basic machines when it comes to building our workbenches. I wouldn’t wish to become too reliant on numerous complicated machines though and one of the reasons is that when something goes wrong (which inevitable it will) it isn’t always an easy fix. If parts need to be replaced you can be left pretty stumped whilst you wait on the delivery; if this happens to me then my luck dictates it will happen on a bank holiday or in the middle of a postal strike just to make sure that I have to wait that bit longer.

This morning I was merrily straightening up some wood on the planer without problem. I returned about half an hour later, changed the machine over to do some thicknessing, kitted up with my googles and ear defenders, and with a back buckling lump of wood under my arm I went to do my usual press button with foot manoeuvre, but nothing.
In a bid for a quick fix I chucked the wood to one side and did the usual turn it off and turn it back on again trick – this time with my finger, but still nothing. I repeated this a few more times just in case before realising I was going to have to think a bit harder.

I sighed loudly …

Without boring you with the hours of rigmarole of checking fuse boxes, sockets, learning German to read the manual and prodding about a bit, guess what it was? Just an electric micro sensor (some stupid safety device) that thought I had the knives exposed when they weren’t. A few technical taps with a small hammer seemed to sort it for now and I was finally back in action – but still hours lost and a lot of catching up to do.

The Wadkin Line Shaft Planer – now I don’t think there’s any micro sensors on this one!

I’m all for health and safety and without question it is our number one priority. No one should dismiss a little extra effort to keep oneself safe but I do wish if they are going to put a device in they could spend enough on the part to make sure it works as well as the rest of the otherwise faultless machine. I tend to feel safe working at my planer but feel somewhat uneasy with a safety device that drives me to poking about with the sockets.

I’ve had a similar experience with my bandsaw, the sensor gave up (due to the’dusty’ environment?) and got to thinking that the door is open when it’s clearly bloody shut!

And to think… Helen’s been threatening me with a four sider.

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About Richard Maguire

About Richard Maguire

As a professional hand tool woodworker, Richard found hand tools to be the far more efficient solution for a one man workshop. Richard runs 'The English Woodworker' as an online resource and video education for those looking for a fuss free approach to building fine furniture by hand. Learn More About Richard & The English Woodworker.


  1. Ken

    As you said health and safety is important, but it sure can bog you down at times.
    Not all advances in technology are for the better, it can out smart its self sometimes me thinks.

    Thanks for the post Richard, pleased you got it sorted for now. 😉

  2. Richard

    Cheers Ken, I’d have to agree with that. I think a lot of tech advances are made because they can and anything for improving safety becomes set as standard regulations.

  3. Chris Buckingham

    I have always found that a mixture of sensitive little electrical bits,and vibrating dusty machines ,is a sure way to a stoppage,how aircraft stay in the air is beyond me!They have safety switches on the safety switches! Many of the overriding safety devices are more likely to cause an accident than prevent one,just look at the switches fitted to Angle Grinders.

    • Richard

      I think we suffer from an overactive need to look like a problem has been considered rather than a drive to solve it. With all those safety switches in place how can we doubt that a company cares?!
      When it comes to flying, i’m confused enough as to how they keep to 250 tonne in the air in the first place, especially after I consider how much effort it takes to get me off the ground!


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