Commissioning the Singer 95K40

Hi all,

There’s been a lot of chatter in the Visual Arts telegram about the new Singer that has been introduced to the space, which should be capable of sewing thicker materials & leather.

Whilst folks are familiarising themselves with and setting it up, there are some formal questions to work through before the Singer can be considered operable and open for members’ use.

Photo of the Singer (from telegram):

I don’t know if we have a formal commissioning process, but I’ve put together following checklist based upon questions raised in the Telegram chat, and from information that’s required when adding a piece of equipment to the Membership system.


  1. Do we know any information about this machine?
    1. Manufacturer: Singer
    2. Model: 95K40
    3. Serial number?
    4. Any manuals or guides we can note in our docs?
  2. Is the machine in good working order?
    • Yes :slight_smile:

Health and Safety

  1. Does the existing Sewing Machine risk assessment apply to this machine, or do we need to draft a separate risk assessment?
    • (In progress)
  2. Do we require any Personal Protective Equipment to use this machine?
    • No explicit PPE required, but general guidance applies of tying up hair, avoiding loose clothes, and keeping workspace tidy.
  3. Does the machine need any safety equipment adding to it (either first-party or modifications)?
    • Important not to restrict the actual working end of the machine
    • May be worth some sort of guard on the rear / right side of the machine (from the operator’s perspective), to minimise risks re: other work that may be going-on in visual arts
  4. Where should this machine be within the Space?
    • (Outstanding. May be worth a wider re-org of Visual Arts)

Training and maintenance

  1. Does this machine have any unique characteristics / functions that need noting during training?
    • Yes: Threading, fitting the bobbin, general safety checks.
  2. Should this fall under the same “Sewing Machine” training, or require separate training?
    1. If fall under the same, this would mean we’re happy with existing sewing machine inductees using this machine with no additional training or guidance.
    • Separate training. General sewing machine training should be completed first.
  3. Are there any maintenance notes or guides required for this machine?
    • Yes. Roughly the same as point 7. Could do with documentation on these.
  4. (point 10 never existed due to original formatting issues)


  1. Should we charge for inductions on this machine?
    • Out of scope for this discussion
  2. Should we charge for usage of this machine?
    • Out of scope for this discussion


  1. Once we have answers to the above, we’ll invite the board to approve?

This checklist & questions can evolve through the course of the discussion, of course. Once we make any final decisions/answers for certain questions, I intend to lift them into this main post for clarity.

(I’ll post my opinions separately.)

1 Like

From what I’ve seen of the sewing machine, my largest concerns are about its belt-drive mechanism.

As far as I understand:

  • It has a very powerful motor
  • Belt-drive mechanism is exposed
  • Belt is relatively old leather?
  • Belt is held together with a staple

Which I think introduces significant new risks compared to the existing sewing machine’s risk assessment. I’d be concerned about its belt drive mechanism catching loose hair, clothing, or materials around Visual Arts.

I understand the motor is mounted underneath the sewing machine’s table as well? The risks re: catching loose things might therefore be relevant underneath the table as well as on top of it.

I believe its belt being joined by a staple is not unusual for these types of machines, but I’d pay close attention to that: Making sure the belt is in good working order, and is never at risk of breaking or coming off of the machine at-speed.

I’d want to minimise these risks by placing the sewing machine somewhere that encloses it on as many sides as possible? I’d strongly prefer it not to be centrally located within Visual Arts where people will be moving and working around it. I thought the slight alcove where the Large Format Printer is currently located might work, unless the sewing machine motor’s vibrations might disrupt the 3D printers?

To further minimise risks, would it be practical to fit any custom guards to it to enclose some of its mechanisms?

As far as PPE goes, no loose clothing and keep hair tied up ought to cover it?

I think this all relates the “Health and Safety” questions above.

Regarding the training questions, if these risks are indeed valid and it warrants its own risk assessment, I think training ought to be separate from our existing sewing machines. This one – intended for thicker materials like Leather – certainly feels like a more specialised piece of equipment.

Regarding all other questions, I don’t have enough familiarity to have an opinion at the moment.

Hair should be tied back securely, and the work area should be cleared before use (although this should be standard for any space power tools). I’m a fan of minimising loose clothing to a point, but I think maybe that should be rolled in to standard hackspace health and safety - members should be dressing appropriately for the work they plan to undertake at the space.

Previously we had ‘free’ elastic hair ties available as part of PPE - it may be worth instigating this again for all workshops.

The belt could, in theory, be guarded - but it needs to be done in such a way as not to interfere with use of the drive-wheel by hand, as this is a crucial part of the machine. It allows fine control and adjustment. Also, if the guard is not correctly designed I suspect it could increase danger as the control wheel is spoked. This is made significantly more complex as the drive pully is on the outside of the hand wheel, rather than being between the wheel and the machine.

Under the machine may be a different matter with regards to fitting a guard.

I would point out that these machines have been used in their current, unguarded state for about a century at this point. These are still used regularly all over the world, and I can see no evidence of other people crafting and installing guards onto these machines.

The belt is leather, and that’s normal. The staples? I suspect something to inspect rather than be concerned with - if they break, the belt looses tension and grip on the fly wheel. Again, this is standard and still in use today. I would also suggest that this may have been designed as a safety break point originally.

There have been people who have attached smaller motors to the rear of the machine, rather than under the table. This would allow us to use a smaller belt, have a more compact unit, and fit a smaller guard - however it would likely impact the capabilities of the machine and as such is not preferable, unless we can use a similarly powerful motor.

Enclosing a machine in a workspace makes it significantly harder to work on bigger projects, and while it is intended to be used for leather, it’s also useful for heavy weight denim, canvas, sail cloth, etc. The ‘sewing table’ area in the centre of the craft area was designed to give space to move material and make it easier to sew - fighting heavy material in a confined space could very well increase the risk as the user has another thing to concentrate on. Furthermore, the suggested placement would put the user in the way of the main light source, which will make using the equipment harder and more risky.

I would suggest a short training session covering risks, fitting the bobbin (as this is different), and explaining safety checks on the belt etc would be prudent. I would also suggest a sign telling members to tie hair back would be a good idea.

Chris is correct The belt having a “staple” is standard for sewing machine belts it’s the bit that breaks before your machine breaks also allows for taking the belt on and off. A quick bit of research found that it’s perfectly normal to be hooked on.

Thanks Rob this is really useful to consolidate the discussions from telegram. This would make an excellent start to a tool wiki post, which i’ll sort soon. I was in the space the other day and had a go on the machine following some brief training, and i’m pretty confident it sounds/looks more intimidating than it is. You really have to press down on the foot control to have the needle running at speed.

  1. The machine works great, nice and smooth.

  2. I have discussed with @FoodNoTear and he has agreed to add to the existing risk assessment as a comment that I can then add to the risk assessment.

  3. PPE isn’t required, but a pack of bobbles might be a good idea as Chris has pointed out. I’m ordering some first aid bits soon, so i’ll try and remember to include those. I don’t think the belt snapping would be that catastrophic, it’s not under much tension at all.

  4. If someone was keen to create some sort of see through acrylic enclosure over the back of the belt, just so it’s not a risk to anyone behind it, nor anything being pushed off the table, i think that would be the best case. Then it is still fully accessible from the front.

  5. I do agree that the current location is less than ideal. Anything falling off the table could hit the belt/distract the user etc. It’s also displaced the other table we had there, which was important for any activities that might have accidentally damaged the nice fabric table - glueing, spraying etc. Where it could go though, I am less sure of. We could downsize the large ‘painting area’ I don’t see it used much, and when it is, the easel is normally used rather than that table. It seems to have a collection of acrylic paint tubes strewn across it 95% of the time.

  6. Threading the machine is a bit niche, but using it for sewing is super simple as it only has 1 direction and 1 setting to change - stitch length.

  7. I think this should be a supplementary ~15-20 minute induction. I think this should only be done once inducted on the other sewing machines. I would also recommend that only experienced sewing machine users are inducted. E.g. if someone was learning how to use a sewing machine for the first time, maybe don’t train them on this immediately. But if someone shows competency and experience in the normal sewing machine induction, then there’s no reason why this machine couldn’t be added to the end of their induction.

  8. There’s a load of videos on the VA telegram chat. It would be great to get these from there and onto a wiki.

11/12 - This is probably a separate discussion that goes beyond this machine’s conversation.

Something else worth discussing is consumables. Currently the space only provides black and white thread. This thread is ok for the other machines, but not strong enough for this machine. We could start stocking different types of thread, but i know everyone would only use the best quality stuff for all the machines. Therefore i’d probably propose members supply their own thread, and if they wish to donate at the end of their project, so be it.

Thanks all :slight_smile:

I’ve updated the main post with any answers that feel fairly decided / uncontroversial so far.

I take the points raised above about this type of machine being in-use in industrial applications for a long time without requiring additional safety equipment, alongside the fact that members should be dressing and acting appropriately for their work in the Space.

The one additional thought I’d offer on the safety point is that Visual Arts contains a mix of specialities and interests; the users of Visual Arts will have varying familiarity with sewing machines, their risks, and how to act around them to minimise those risks. That doesn’t detract from the need for everybody to act in a generally safe manner, but I do think we have to consider how we set up the machine to minimise risks to those sharing the same workspace as the machine, rather than purely from the operator’s perspective.

I like @Josephxtian’s idea of a potential guard on the rear / right side of the machine. I imagine this could be fitted to the machine’s table rather than close to the belt? This could prevent other activities in Visual Arts encroaching the machine’s working space, whilst still allowing the operator full access to the drive wheel and any other controls on that side of the machine.

Regarding the positioning of the machine and use of Visual Arts space overall, there’s probably a wider reorganisation to consider – especially if the 3D printers do end up somewhere else (as per the recent Telegram chatter).

Until then, as this machine is a fairly specialist piece of equipment it might be better to store this machine somewhere out-of-the-way but allow members’ to move it centrally when it’s needed? Is that a practical suggestion? I don’t know how manoeuvrable the machine is.