Leather Tool Storage Safety

A few weeks ago I finished building a new leather tooling table. I was excited to get the tools up on the wall and had seen several different ways to do it. The version I liked best was that shown above. It extended the tools out a bit further from the wall, putting them within easy reach, while also providing a shelf to place other random items. In theory this should work well…in practice it is potentially dangerous and here’s why.

After installing the wood board to the wall and placing the tools in the slots, I realized that the outlet on the wall was now in a spot where it would be a pain to have cords running to it – the tool handles were kind of in the way. So – I decided to plug a surge protector in and screw it to the wall below the shelf. This kept cords down and out of the way.

What I didn’t think of at the time, was that this also put my hand in danger of touching the business end of those tools. Specifically the well placed one below.

This tool – also known as a clicker knife – was situated right in front of the surge protector. It’s relatively short so it didn’t seem particularly in the way at the time. I had actually recently sharpened this very tool just the other day and wrote about it too. Things were starting to brew for the perfect storm of hand-tool accidents.

In short, I went to plug in my laptop on the table so that I could follow a dvd tutorial I was watching.

When I pulled my hand back from the outlet, it was in the perfect spot for that clicker knife to get me. And boy did it get me good! About 4 stitches good that is. It was a perfectly clean cut down to the tendon…but missed the arteries and anything else important down there, I guess it was my lucky unlucky day! The rest of the night was spent on a trip to the doctor to get fixed up.

Now, with that lesson learned – I wanted to pass things on to my readers as well, so that they don’t end up making the same mistake. Initially I thought of a few ways to keep using that board with tool holes in it. I installed a small backboard right behind the tools, then decided it was still possible to get a jab here and there if I wasn’t careful. I also considered some plexiglass placed in front of the bottom of the tools to prevent reaching in. That would have worked, but also would have given up all the table space below. So – I settled on another storage style very commonly seen in saddle shops, strips of leather screwed to the wall. It’s simple, fast and easy to put up. It also keeps any blade practically pressed against the wall itself.

There is much less room for gettin’ cut using this method. Though I will add that if you put in a second row above the first, you may want to also add a small piece of board beneath to block your hand from the blades when grabbing a tool from the lower level. Ah well – it is a work in progress and I will keep on adding to it over time. Stay safe and mind your tool placement!

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