Guillotine (final steps before go-live)


Thanks to (then new) member Laurence, we have a large guillotine in the back metal room. It has a blade about 94cm suitable for cutting sheets of thin metal, plastic, card, and hardboard.

Laurence kindly produced an instruction sheet, but the tool still needs a few things sorting before it can be put in general use:

  1. Risk assessment
  2. Additional safety features
  3. Online training quiz
  4. Final home for the tool

Risk assessment: I have been researching risks and have found this assessment from the Irish Health and Safety Executive, which I plan to borrow for our tool.

Safety features: The risk assessment has revealed (to me) the need for a guard in front of the blade and a safety lock to prevent unauthorised use. I bought a sheet of polycarbonate for a guard a few months ago and plan to fit it using the holes already drilled in the machine’s frame. The polycarbonate is very flimsy, so I plan to stiffen it with some steel angle I found in the rubbish pile.

There as talk about installing a simple wooden block that can be locked in the guillotine’s mouth to stop it being used. If anyone has any bright ideas, please shout!

Online quiz: The existing quizzes for the circular saw and grinder seem to be working well, so I will follow that format based on Laurence’s user guide.

Location: This isn’t just a metal tool, so I was thinking it could live in the main area where more people can see and use it. The guillotine can take up about 5ft of space (both depth wise and width wise) depending on material being cut. The tool is on wheels, so it can be stored closer to a wall. If anyone has opinions on a good location, please make them heard.

Mike to carry out steps above. Any other members to voice opinions in this thread.


Glad to see its nearly working.

I, as another member, think it should live in the Metalwork fabrication room, once the new laser cutter is working that will be able to fit 1000x600 sheets in it, meaning that most paper/card cutting will be done in that. We also have a 1m paper guillotine slicer thing already for stacks of paper.

The only real time you’d be using this is for book binding, which is probably going to be a very occasional occurance.

I think having it in the main space will also make people think of it as ‘the quick go to tool’ for cutting any old thing. This will be stood up and ready to cut with the removal of a lock vs the effort to pull the paper guillotine out from under the VA bench and put it on the table and then back again.

Only other point about having it on wheels, is we’ll need to make real sure it can’t topple over!

Chees Joe. I also heard from Peter that paper and card (and hardboard and MDF, which are just very thick card, basically) blunt blades quite badly, so I’ll look into that.

The wheel toppling thing isn’t hugely risky, but I’ll double check if the casters are braked or not and def recommend replacing them if not.

Little update here:

Risk assessment
Basically complete, though may be altered slightly pending final location

Online quiz
This is basically ready to go. Lawrence and I worked through it last night.

Final location
Right now the tool is on wheels. This was to make it easier for us to move it when we were unsure of where it wanted to live. It also makes it easier for the tool to be moved backwards and forwards in order to install the backstop (the thing at the back that lets you make consistent sized cuts). (Pic shows backstop rested in place, not properly bolted, BTW)

That backstop could actually be cut down to allow a max. 600mm cut which should be sufficient for most use cases and lowers the footprint slightly.

In doing the RA and speaking with Lawrence, we concluded that the machine would be much safer as a static tool with the backstop permanently attached at the rear. This probably makes it too large for the back metal room. The other factor is that it’s not really just a metal tool. And if it was buried away, VA people would probably not know it was there.

We thought it would be good to have it somewhere more prominent such as here

or here

Tagging @Marcus6275 because he has a good idea of infra requirements for large tools, and @Ben_Dooks who is now infra boss on the board. I also spoke informally to Rob and Jasmine about it last night, and we thought those locations seemed OK.

I think the best location is by the stage, and it’s slightly tucked away between two pillars. Yes, you have potential foot traffic going to large storage, but we could tape off the area in question.

The tool now has a lock, BTW, restricting it to trained users only

Let me know any concerns about moving it to the stage, because right now that is my plan A. Also feel free to fire any questions at me.

I could be wrong here but it sounds like this is primarily a metal working tool as it can’t cut paper or card, so shouldn’t it live in metalworking? What about the old welding room? It looks quite deep and so would get in the way a fair bit in the proposed locations

No, it can cut (stiff) paper, card, hardboard/MDF (TBC), and non-brittle plastics, too.

There are two main reasons why I’m thinking it shouldn’t live in the back room of the metal area.

  1. It’s for a lot of different materials, and not so many people venture into that back room. This is especially true of newer members, who (I’m feeling) would be more likely to want to cut paper, card, plastics, etc.

  2. It has a backstop to help you make consistent cuts. With this installed (see photo above), the footprint is quite large — I feel excessively large for the back metal room.

Ah okay, it sounds like the old welding/back room isn’t particularly useful in general then? I’d have said that was the most ideal place for such a large tool. If the room is hard to find then some wayfinding signs could be good unless we plan to close the room off, but presumably it’ll be used for something and that will need directional signs for whatever goes there.

My concern is if it’s too large to fit in the welding room I wonder how it will fit by the stage without intruding on the path, that’s a very narrow space with a busy path behind it which leads to the steps to the stage as well as the cave, large storage, and snacks.

This would require a bit of effort but clearing out large project storage would be the perfect place for it as it’s not a thoroughfare but still within sight of the stage.

Have you had a look at the back wall by member storage? I think there’s some electrical bits there but they could be easily moved. Then it would be near the 3D printers.

All good suggestions. Right now, the back room is clearer thanks to recent efforts by Raul, but we’ve been trying to set it up for welding and fabrication. When those plans were made, we didn’t account for the guillotine, which was a subsequent unexpected donation.

For now, I think I will leave it in the back room. But in the near future, it will have to move.

Another side-issue is that it’s on wheels. Those wheels are just free spinning castors, which raises a bit of a risk about tipping and moving. While we’re deciding where the machine should go, wheels are very good, but they should probably be braked wheels. And because the machine is something like 500kg, I don’t have an obvious way of replacing the castors. We’d need some kind of jack or hoist.

Could i suggest we get rid of the broken metal lathe and put this guillotine there instead? We already have 2 metal lathes, and the broken one hasn’t been touched in all the time i’ve been a member.

I think very few members will need a guillotine of this size outside of metalwork, and i would rather have a few paper shards in metalwork, than slithers of razor sharp metal around the rest of the space.

That’s a pretty good option. I think the guillotine would stick out quite a way into the door, but getting shot of the lathe at least buys us some space for a potential re-org.

For now, it’ll live on locked wheels in the back room and it is marked as a priority candidate for moving, IMO. Wheels are on order BTW.