Micrometers are not C-clamps!


I went to pull a micrometer for class the other night. Of the two I found both were broken. One was a good Fowler which Walter donated. Both barrels were sprung which means someone closed it and then kept going trying to close it more. Considering they have a ratchet on the end so that you don’t over drive these, someone had to make the conscious decision to grab the barrel and keep turning - OR they used it as a C-clamp.
There is nothing to do but toss them. If we pull the barrel off it will never be back into calibration. Need I say it? THIS is why we can’t have nice things. and we won’t since I have no plans to replace them.


Never underestimate the power of stupidity.
Never mistake a lack of talent for genius


That’s just sad…


Or, mount them on a plaque with these words…


If you don’t know what a micrometer is and you use it this way you should not be in the machine shop at all. Or DMS for that matter!


I concur with this.
Put below it names of people who have been kicked out of machine.


My old grandpappy told me (or maybe I read it online) - there are lots of tools you can share. Not on the list: things you use to measure precisely, and things you use to cut precisely. I bring my own tape measures and router bits to the space, and brought my own circ saw one time.


Not so much. We have a lot of members who come from backgrounds that do not include micrometers. DMS is where they will learn. That is one of our missions.

We probably need to do a better job of labeling such things for the uninformed. And lock up the good stuff with access for trained individuals. PITA, but that’s how we can have nice things.


I’d like to learn to use the machine shop but not if I’m going to be publicly humiliated or banned if I make a mistake. I definitely get the vibe that committees feel they own their space and members are a nuisance.


True but I know well enough to not use a tool this way.

Kinda like the dude that hooked up a DMS oscilloscope to his car ignition system on the output side of the high voltage coil. Hmmm, don’t know that the scope is limited to 600v yet hooks it up to 20kV. We needed to hook him up to the car in such a manner.

Definitely we all make mistakes and then there is plain stupid.


The tone lately needs some adjustment.


Sorry, doing something plain stupid doesn’t mean others can yell at or humiliate one in public.


The ones that broke it did not report and replace the micrometer for their mistake.


As @lampy says, everyone makes mistakes. Some mistake just affect the project you are working on. Fine…no biggie.

Some mistakes affect the tools or general 'Space in an easily fixable manner…again, no biggie, as long as one takes responsibility for getting them fixed. No one gets publicly humiliated or banned in these situations.

And some mistakes affect other members’ ability to do their projects, sometimes drastically, or impact other members’ safety.

In other words there are mistakes and then there are mistakes. The abuse of the micrometers is of the latter type.


There are accidents, there is stupid, and then there is negligent. Whilst I don’t pretend i have a perfect tone at all times, the one thing that gets chairs going is negligence. We don’t care about accidents / stupid mistakes as long as they get reported to the committee so we can go inspect / repair / replace whatever was affected. That’s where the budget is set to go, and what members pay. That’s normal operation, as this is a place for education.
We tend to care a wee-bit more when they go out of their way to do something such that it’s negligent, like intentionally trying to bypass a safety so they can avoid a 5 minute self-training (what happens on occasion with the metal grinders), take parts off tools and break them in the process (like the screw that prevented our old chop saw from cutting into it’s own table, which a user took off the machine for reasons unknown and is one of the reasons that saw was destroyed).

These are things that no one who is making a simple mistake does; it’s the users that know they are doing something bad, and do it anyway because they don’t care.

I’ve broken things in the machine shop. I’ve contacted Nick Silva / relevant chair at that time when I do. There hasn’t been a charge yet because things happen and it wasn’t negligent. I’ve had users reach out to me when they break something in the metal shop. Things happen, they were being honest and it wasn’t intentionally doing something bad.

But things like this aren’t basic mistakes; it’s evidently not a clamp, they are in a drawer labeled measuring equipment, and considering the ratchet prevents over driving after it stopped turning they had to do something else to force it to turn, I’d call that negligent.

For an example similar to what @Lampy posted, but to differentiate, let’s take a common multimeter use and assume the multimeter has a printed rating of 600v:

  • User blows the meter because a wall outlet they were testing (which reasonably would be under the 600v rating) had a voltage spike that exceeded that rating while they were testing it. There was nothing wrong with what the user was doing, things happen, meter gets replaced and that’s the end of it.

  • User blows the meter due to the switch accidentally being on Amperage rather than Voltage reading (assume there wasn’t a fuse). I wouldn’t punish the user here, but guide them to be more careful.

  • User blows the meter because they didn’t read the voltage rating of 600v and hooked it up to 25kV on a system where the voltage is known to operate higher than 600v, or one where they do not know the voltage range within reason. I would blame the user and make them replace the meter.


Thanks. In general, I’m far more alarmed that chairs want to blame users and make them pay for certain stupid mistakes than I am that users make those stupid mistakes. Or not replace tools because they are upset. But thanks for the detailed response anyway.


They are members, not customers. They pay to use a shop within reason, not to break tools out of negligence. We don’t care when a user makes a mistake, or there is an accident. We care when they willfully do something they know they should not. Again, there are accidents, there are stupid mistakes, then there is negligence. Some people conflate some of those terms, but we only care about the last one: negligent.

(edit: removed since I missed part of the OP and thought he was referring to something else)


Read the OP.


presumably he means this

but if you refuse to hold idiots financially responsible for the damage they cause, then without an unlimited budget you need to make hard decisions about what tools are fiscally approriate to stock.


In general, owning up to ones mistake, coming forward, and appearing to be sorry for what happened, and wanting to know how to properly do what you attempted is likely to get you off free of charge. Not reporting damage, hiding damage, or using tools in a way specifically prohibited by required training is where the frustration comes from.