Metal Shop Basic Rules and Orientation

Welcome all Metal Shop users!

Reserve Tools

Use Skedda to reserve time in the Metal Shop or on frequently used tools.

Tool Testing

Tool testing is free for everyone and required before you may use shop equipment. Our objective is to ensure that you know how to use the tools competently while ensuring your safety, the safety of others, and the longevity of Asylum's equipment. It will likely be necessary to schedule more than one session to test on all metal shop tools.

Previous training or experience is required, especially for the Welders, the Hand Held Plasma Cutter, and the Oxy-Acetylene torches. For instruction, take a class (group instruction may not be available during Covid).

Tool Testing Online Sign Up
  • Please sign up at least 24 hours in advance, or follow individual instructor requests on the tool testing calendar.
  • Sign up here: Tool Testing
  • Private instruction maybe available. Contact our Director of Education for information.
Shop Communication 

Email list membership is required for all shop users. To join, send an email to with a request to join the list.

Through list emails you will:

* Have access to a 24/7 metal knowledge base (we welcome questions / answers from all users!)

* Hear about upcoming shop nights and events in the shop

* communicate when tools or machines are out of order

* stay informed on shop policies

* stay informed of improvement work or any other special events


For tool-specific safety information and basic operating instructions, visit our Metal Shop Tool Manual pages. Also available through this link: Manufacturer's tool manuals and additional safety information. A paper copy of the manual is available in the Metal Shop.

If a Tool Breaks

...Or you find a broken tool, please tag it out. Red tags can be found in the Metal Shop. Please describe the problem, date the tag, and include your name.

Then send an email to and post a heads up on the metalworking email list.  We'll respond as quickly as possible.

Hazards and Safety

Be aware that arc flash, flying sparks and debris may happen at any time in the welding area.  Safety glasses, long pants, gloves, and closed toed shoes are required. 

Note that as long a Covid 19 restrictions are in place, all shop users must provide their own PPE. The shop-owned, shared PPE normally available to shop users has been locked away and cannot be used.

Safety-wise, make sure your gloves (and, for that matter, all your skin and clothing) remain dry. This is a much bigger factor than glove leather thickness in mitigating electrical shock hazard. (Also, shock hazard is less of a concern with MIG than with TIG or stick.)

Basic Welding Safety Rules

ALWAYS wear a proper face shield.
ALWAYS wear close-toed shoes.
ALWAYS wear a long-sleeved, non-flammable shirt.
ALWAYS wear proper welding gloves.
ALWAYS wear ear protection (earplugs or muffs) to prevent sparks from entering your ear canal. An eardrum punctured by a spark will instantly cauterize and never heal.
NEVER weld on or near anything that's been cleaned with a chlorinated hydrocarbon like brake-cleaner. '''When combined with UV light, chlorinated hydrocarbons can create phosgene gas, which can cause serious injury or death.''' Ventilation will not prevent poisoning.

Welding Fumes and Gases Fact Sheet

If you burn yourself, immediately douse with cold water: seconds count!


Make sure the weld area is free from all flammable materials such as flammable liquids, paper, etc. ''Do not'' wear clothing or gloves that have been exposed to flammable liquids.


Before turning on a welding machine, make sure there are no puddles of water on the floor around the weld bench or the machine. Make sure the weld machine is dry, including the main box, the torch, the pedal, and the plug.

There is little risk of fatal electrocution from a properly working TIG weld machine. When the user presses on the pedal to initiate the arc, a high-frequency low amplitude arc will emit from the tip of the weld torch. Once the machine detects the grounded metal piece that is to be welded, the arc will switch over to a high-amplitude DC current. Even if the operator deliberately points it toward their body, the shock will be mild, since the machine will not switch over to the high amplitude current.


Welded metal will remain hot for several minutes after it is welded. In most cases the heat is localized near the weld itself. In the case of more conductive materials, such as copper and aluminum, the heat may be more distributed throughout the material.

In the case of TIG welding, sparks and spatter are non-existent, unless rusty or dirty metal is used. MIG welding steel will create sparks, so earplugs and full coverage safety glasses should be worn to prevent burns to sensitive tissue.

Gloves MUST be worn when welding and handling recently welded material. White cotton welding gloves may be used for light TIG welding, as long as they are free of holes. For heavier welding, deerskin or heavy duty welding gloves should be used.

UV Burns

The light emitted from a weld arc is brighter than that of the sun. Do not look at the arc without wearing a full-faced welding mask with a shade 10 or darker filter plate. Always make sure the weld curtains are in place between the welder(s) and other people in the shop. Be sure to cover any exposed skin, including cuff and collar areas, while welding or observing inside the weld area. The rays from the arc can cause a UV burn much worse than a sunburn. Observers may use a cardboard mask with a shade 10 filter plate.

Compressed Gas Cylinders

Argon and CO2 are inert, nontoxic gases normally present in the atmosphere. However, if allowed to fill an enclosed area these gases can fully displace breathable air, causing asphyxiation and death.

**At the Asylum, the greater potential danger is the valve being knocked off the cylinder, turning it into a rocket powerful enough to severely injury or kill people and damage equipment and the building itself.**

Gas Cylinder Handling

1. Gas tanks should be secured at all times.

    • Secured to a machine while in use
    • In a storage rack chained up. Cylinders must '''ALWAYS''' remain upright and '''NEVER''' be placed horizontally.
    • Secured to something else using a tie down, or chain.  (not bungie cord). Cylinders must be secured with a non-combustible material (metal) to an immovable object to prevented them from falling.

2. When tanks are not in use, or being transported, they should have a threaded cap on them at all times.

3. Fuels (Propane, Acetylene) should be stored outside in the yellow locked flammables cage.  The key is blue and at the front desk.

    • Empty fuel tanks can be stored temporarily on the loading dock while waiting for pickup or delivery.

4. Oxygen should not be stored within 30 feet of fuels.

5. When tanks are empty they should have an empty tag slid over the cap so they are easily known to be empty.

    • If a you are unable, or don’t feel comfortable changing a tank, please place an empty white cap over the regulator.
    • When tanks are empty, place them in the storage tank rack by the loading dock.

6. Use soap and water to test for leaks when installing a new tank.

7. If a tank has bad threads or some other issue, please tag it out with a description of your issue, as well as e-mail Maintenance@ with the issue.

8. If you use the last one, or second to last tank please make sure to let Facilities@ know so they can get new tanks ordered.

*Drag or slide cylinders, even for short distances. 
*Drop cylinders or permit them to strike each other violently. 
*Subject cylinders to mechanical shocks that may cause damage to their valves. 
*Use cylinders as rollers for moving material or other equipment. 
*Tamper with pressure-relief devices. 
*Permit oil, grease, or other readily combustible substances to come in contact with cylinders, valves, or other equipment in oxidizer service. 
*Remove any product labels or shipping hazard labels. 
*Refill compressed gas cylinders. This is to be done only by qualified producers of compressed gases. 
*Lift a cylinder by its cap using a sling or a magnet. 
*Attempt to catch a falling cylinder. 
*Move cylinders using a suitable yellow hand truck or cart.  
*Leave the valve protection cap and valve seal outlet in place until the cylinder has been secured in place and is ready to be used. 
*Secure cylinders when in storage, transit, or use. 
*When returning cylinders to the supplier, properly close the cylinder valve, replace and secure any valve outlet seals, and properly install the cylinder cap. 
*Use a cylinder cage or cradle to lift a cylinder.

Recycling and Disposing of Materialsimage-1600530143792.png

We have a scrap bin that is emptied weekly. 

The following items are not allowed to be placed into the scrap bin:

    • Electronic Waste 
    • Wood / Wood Scrap
    • Plastic / Fabric 
    • Rubber
    • Any other non-metal substanc

All metal scrap must be stripped down to metal-only in order to be properly recycled.

Other metalshop users are free to take pieces from the scrap bin for practice or for integration into their own projects.

Good Manners

    • Sweep up
    • Clear any trip hazards
    • Leave the most open floor space possible
    • Don't leave your projects unattended. Unattended metal will go in the scrap bin.