SAFETY: (Most boring, but Most Important!!!)
Safety is always to be your very first concern. No one can protect you from yourself! If you do stupid things or fail to be careful, then there is no one but yourself to blame, so you must be careful and be aware of what you are doing.
In my lifetime I have been injured a few times, and I've always found that an incident can happen so fast that it seems to happen at the speed of light! One second all is fine, and the next second you can be in extreme pain.
All commercial machine shops are governed in some manner regarding safety, and here in North America there are rules that machine shop owners must follow to ensure that machine shops are maintained and run in a safe manner and in the best interests of the workers. But, this said, I have found that no matter how much a safety committee tries to help the worker, there are always people who, it seems, go out of their way to make the situation unsafe for themselves. Remember, you are your own responsibility. You have no foreman, boss or safety people looking over your shoulder to make sure you are being careful, so remember, the responsibility is yours, and yours alone!
Of course, when all is really considered, there is no such thing as an "accident". Accidents are caused; sometimes through carelessness, through neglect, through stupidity, through ignorance and often a combination of some or all of the above, but never do they happen of their own accord!
The importance of safety glasses, or plastic goggles, cannot be stressed strongly enough! The eyes are very fragile, so make sure that you get accustomed to using some sort of protection at all times when you are working in the shop. If you don't normally wear glasses, you will feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but they really don't take very long to get used to. If you normally wear prescription glasses, then I recommend that you get a pair of the large, clear, plastic goggles that can be worn over your glasses to prevent them from getting all pitted from grindings from the grindstone.
Also, normal prescription glasses are not safety glasses unless they have the special toughened lenses. You'll have to order safety lenses when you first get your prescription glasses. If you did not order safety lenses, then you have just ordinary glass, and these lenses can shatter upon impact, possibly causing you to lose an eye, or even both eyes. Close your eyes for a minute or so, keep them closed, and while you are doing so, just think, "This is what I'm going to see for the rest of my life if I'm not careful!" I AM trying to scare you. Incidentally, it is also a good idea to wear clear plastic goggles over your prescription safety glasses whenever you are doing any grinding, as minute bits flying off the grindstone stick to the softened glass, and gradually ruin the lenses. I've never used the latest plastic safety-grade prescription glasses, but I've been told that they are not affected by the grindings. It's best to check with your optometrist.
Work gloves can be used when handling steel, but should not be used when grinding or when operating machinery.
When filing a rotating piece in the lathe, the handle of the file should be held in the left hand, the other hand should be supporting and guiding the other end of the file, and is the recognized safe manner to prevent the rotating chuck from injuring you. It feels a little awkward at first, but if you persist, you eventually will feel comfortable. With the lathe OFF, try holding the file right-handed, and you will see how dangerously close the rotating chuck would be to your left arm. It would certainly be too close to be anything else but dangerous. Workers have been known to have some flesh ripped from their left arm by using the file incorrectly. Also, whenever you are using a file, whether in the lathe or at the workbench, you must always have the proper sized handle on the tang (the tapered sharp end) of the file, to prevent the sharp end from being driven into the palm of the hand.
Loose clothing can be dangerous.
Long hair should be tied back and kept away from any possibility of getting caught in machinery– especially rotating machinery.
Steel-toed safety boots or shoes are recommended.
About the most important safety rule (if there is any one rule more important than another) is this, be sure to remember it, and please don't think that you are above having to heed this one. It is: NEVER EVER LEAVE THE CHUCK KEY IN THE CHUCK. If the key is in the chuck and the lathe started, the key is suddenly shot out of the chuck, and becomes a dangerous missile, travelling fast enough to kill either you or someone standing nearby. At the very least, it will jam between the chuck and the lathe bed, causing the chuck end to break the cast recess it locates into.
DO NOT operate any machinery if you are not feeling very well, have a hangover, taken any sort of drugs or are not alert in every way. In other words - LOOK AFTER NUMBER ONE!!!
HEARING PROTECTION is a must, especially if you are using a disc grinder, as this tool produces a very high frequency and is extremely damaging to the ears.