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Things you shouldn't do. Especially Not Twice

Everybody using equipment in the space is expected to look after that equipment. That means finding out how to use it properly. If you break something and there were guidelines here that would have avoided it, that's not just an unfortunate accident, it's YOUR FAULT. Take responsibility. If the warnings were wrong or insufficient, correct them. That's your responsibility too.

If you see someone misusing tools, appliances or someone unaware of how their actions might damage a tool, please tell them directly, explaining the potential consequences and how it could occur. And write it up here, at the top where new entries will be read, in the hope that someone else will learn, too. Be gentle, but don't keep quiet. It isn't helpful to let someone else suffer their own mistakes, and even less helpful to cause other people to suffer your mistakes.

The 3-in-1 lathe/drill/mill (no longer in use)

  • The motor drive is stuck on. The motor drive will not stop turning. Beware.
  • That lever with a clamp-like icon on it? The one on the lathe saddle? That means "engage the saddle with the motor drive", not "lock the saddle from moving." See the above point.

Dealing with bike thieves

No, you cannot;

  • Run high voltage through the frame or lock.
  • Stuff the frame with rcandy.
  • Fire a pneumatic spike up through the seat
  • Stuff the frame with thermite.
  • Any other ridiculous idea that involves causing bodily harm.

Please stop suggesting these things. It has ceased to be funny. I am the final arbiter of humour.

'Small' Mill (no longer in use)

This mill tends to vibrate a great deal whilst in motion - consequently, you need to ensure you LOCK THE Z-AXIS if you wish it to be fixed (ie, if you're not holding / moving it), as the vibration of the machine is easily enough to plunge your bit through your job, through your wood, and into the table or vice.

Likewise, ensure that the collet chuck is tightened sufficient to hold your bit in place; the tightness should be somewhere near the mid-point between a firm business handshake and a 'okay you're starting to hurt my hand now' handshake.

Floor and benches

Are for working on, not storing stuff. When you've finished, please put away all the tools, throw away any rubbish and put useful leftovers in the storage. Leave the work area better than you found it.

Some of the benches are for general use (metalwork, painting, gluing up, wood work) and others are for specific use. For example, one of the benches in the basement is for wood work only. This is because metal filings, glue and paint do not go well with wood. Please respect the signs!

Mill Vice

Is not a consumable, it's part of the tool. Please don't drill into either the jaws or the base. You can avoid this in a number of ways :

  • Be careful. Don't overhang the jaws, place your work at the top, and the bit will go nowhere near the vice.
  • Place a piece of scrap wood below the work, so that the drill enters that when it passes through.
  • Set the depth stop so the bit can't reach the vice. This is inadequate if the vice metalwork is directly below the work as a drill bit has to come through the work to complete the hole. So use care or scrap wood as well.

Lest you think that damage to a vice is just inevitable .. it's not. The vice we have isn't enormously expensive but a top quality industrial vice is, very. It's a precision instrument that's essential for accurate work. Treat ours like it cost £1700 too - it's the right way to keep tools in good condition.

Grinding wheel

Is for steel. It is only for steel and not for anything else. Steel is the only material it should cut.

Aluminium, plastics, wood will clog the surface of the wheel very quickly and stop it cutting, it can also overheat and explode when used on incorrect materials. Use a file for these materials - they're soft enough to cut easily.

3D printers

Are an expensive, delicate piece of equipment - get training for it!

Drill Bits

There are various types of drill bit depending on what it is you want to cut a hole in: masonry, wood or metal. The 'Space has examples of all three. In general metal drill bits are a simple spiral and often labelled HSS (this is often engraved, along with a diameter on the barrel of the bit, don't always trust the box). Masonry bits will have a blunt 'spade' on the tip. Wood bits tend to have a small point at the tip and spurs, they can also be used for plastics.

In general use the right type of drill bit. If a bit is carbon steel it is probably too brittle for metal.

More info can be found here: [[1]] Also see the speed guide here: [[2]] which has good schematics of the drill bit types

Cutting Speed/Teeth sizes

The URLs below are very useful references:

  1. http://www.raygirling.com/dpspeed.htm
  2. http://www.ibiblio.org/twa/info/drillSpeedChart.pdf

but do keep in mind that some of the numbers are relatively high - a lot of our (semi pro) tools do not quite have the power (or are rigid enough) to hit that (nor do we have sludge cooling). So aim a bit lower and go slower.


There are various sorts of saw blades for the bandsaw intended for wood or metal. Using the wrong kind of blade will, if you're lucky, just break the bandsaw. If not then, well, all kinds of bad things can happen when a fast rotating sharp edged band of metal snaps under stress. For the same reason - be sure to use the adjustments on the guiders. A simple rule is to check the blade against the kind of straight saw you'd use on your chosen material. If it looks like a hacksaw blade, it's for metal (maybe check against a tenon saw as some of the hacksaws may have wood blades). If it looks like a woodsaw blade, it's for (normal) wood. (Verify what to use when using exotic/harder types of wood). Changing the blade on the bandsaw is possible, but should only be done by someone who has the training.

Laser cooler

Don't run the laser with the lid off the cooler and a fan blowing on it. Sure, it will increase the cooling rate. It will also blow dust & muck into the system and it's supposed to be distilled water. BTW, the dead bee was probably there already.


Physical and virtual servers providing services in the space (including Doorbot, Chomsky and the router) are shared. Do not restart them because you want to do a dist-upgrade or because something is running at high load. A large number of people use Chomsky as an IRC bouncer and for playing with code, so you'll be killing their sessions. Doorbot and the router are sensitive and important to every member, so you should have a very good reason to touch them.


You don't need to have the soldering iron in the solder station at full heat, it will melt the plastic bits on components, 270ish is good for leaded solder, 300 for unleaded.

Think about the plastic used in connectors before putting boards in the reflow oven. They may have a low melting point, and youĺl end up having to replace the connectors having carefully peeling the mess from your tiny surface mount components.


Please put some wood under whatever you are drilling, don't drill down into the bed of the vice!


Please don't go over the top when torrenting (or other p2p service) in the space, we have limited upload, reduce your upload bandwidth to e.g. 50Kbit. Don't expect high bandwidth or p2p services to work on unauthenticated networks. We value our network connection so any dubious behaviour by users of our networks upon the Internet at large is a problem for all of us.


It's not simply good enough to read the datasheet carefully, you also have to be reading the right datasheet carefully.

Etch Tanks

Today I lost a pcb in the bubble etch tank and tried to dredge it out by hand. It doesn't hurt at the time but the next time you wash your hands it will hurt LIKE HELL. Wash your hands after using the chemicals, maybe even wear latex gloves. Don't be a pillock, that's my job - alecjw


Treat appliances with care. People use these without caution as a matter of routine, and don't expect them to be hacked, damaged or immersed in water. Similarly, beware of the kettle, because it's kept in a drip tray that can hold a decent amount of water if bent. Friends don't let alecjw near toasters.


If you find something abandoned, please don't bring it to the space, and definitely don't hack it until you've determined from the original owner that they're happy for you to have it. The more valuable something is, the less likely it is to have been abandoned.

The Plague

Don't bring anything to the space that might be infected, infested, radioactive or toxic, without checking first.