Hazards to be aware of in this studio may include:

  • Acetylene storage and torch use 
  • Prevent fire or explosion by opening gas valves slowly.
  • Heating and dipping of pieces into a corrosive sodium bisulfate pickling solution
  • Sawing, piercing, & filing of fine metals
  • Grinding, polishing, & other mechanical techniques

Fine Metals Equipment Safety

Cutting, Piercing, & Filing Metals

  • Handle tools w/sharp edges, such as the jeweler's saw, carefully.
  • Small metal filings can damage skin or eyes.
  • Saws, drills, metal snips can cause cuts.
  • Electric drills can cause electric shocks if they're not properly grounded. Make sure wiring is in good condition.
  • Wear ANSI-approved goggles to protect eyes against flying metal pieces/filings.


Sweat Soldering

Sodium Bisulfate (pickling solution), sometimes called Sparex, is mildly corrosive to skin. Protect eyes from potential splashes and burns by using safety glasses when putting items in and taking items out of the pickling bath solution.


Grinding, Polishing, & Other Mechanical Techniques

  • Grinding and polishing can produce flying metal particles that can cause eye damage.
  • Synthetic and semisynthetic, soluble cutting oils contain nitrosamines, which cause cancer in animals.
  • Cutting fluids may cause dermatitis in some individuals.
  • Wear proper PPE. Never wear loose clothing or jewelry.
  • Grinding wheels should have always have guards on them.


Hazardous Waste Information

Sodium Bisulfate solution (the waste pickling solutions) are collected by Safety staff through UVM's laboratory waste management program. Please limit any additional art materials that you bring to campus. All hazardous materials must to be collected and disposed of properly. No chemicals should be placed in the trash. Most liquids cannot go down the drain without prior approval. Consult the Chemical Waste Management for waste pick up procedures. Email us with any questions at safety@uvm.edu

Chemical Safety

Do not bring in or use any chemical product that is not provided by the Fine Metals instructor. Any products brought in by a student must get instructor approval.

hemicals that are commonly used in the Fine metals studio include:

  • Sodium Bisulfate Solution
  • Handy Flux
  • Fabuluster: for buffing
  • Silver* soldering wire (produces fumes while heating)

*Never use lead soldering wire; lead fumes are toxic by inhalation. For more info about soldering safely with silver solder wire, see:  Silver Soldering Techniques and Tips

Specific MSDS for Fine Metals classes are kept in the studio Lab Safety Notebook. Familiarize yourself with them so you know to properly protect yourself from chemical safety hazards.


Local Exhaust Ventilation

Always turn on the ventilation unit before heating pickling solutions in the crock pots or soldering metals. Crock pots full of pickling bath should be situated as close to the slotted vents as possible. Keep crock pot lids on all pickling bath solutions when not in use. Always solder six (6) inches or less away from the slots vents so the vents can best capture fumes and vapors.

No eating or drinking in Fine Metals studio. Always wash your hands after class and before eating or drinking.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as nitrile or flame-resistant gloves, a leather or rubber apron, safety glasses or goggles or any type of respirator is your last line of defense against a chemical exposure or physical hazard. Always consider engineering and administrative controls first to eliminate or minimize any potential occupational exposure.

Engineering controls may include task-specific or localized ventilation or a chemical fume hood.  Administrative controls should be considered before PPE and might include substituting a non-hazardous or less hazardous chemical for a hazardous chemical or using wet-methods to keep dust to a minimum or modifying a procedure to make it safer. Finally, personal protective equipment should be considered to increase your level of safety protection from chemical, biological and physical hazards.

The laboratory supervisor is responsible for determining what type of PPE should be used in the studio and for what tasks. Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) staff is available to help determine which kind of PPE is appropriate for specific chemicals, procedure and studio situations. For more info about PPE, go here.


Safety Glasses

ANSI-approved safety glasses are provided at equipment stations around the studio. Safety glasses must be worn to protect the user from any tiny shards of metal or debris or from corrosive liquids that make splash and splatter. Rinse safety glasses regularly to keep them free of contamination. Wipe any shared safety glasses with a lens-wipe before using.



Ask instructor for Leather/Suede apron


Copper Tongs

Copper tongs are provided to move heated fine metals to and from the corrosive pickling baths.


Leather flame resistant gloves

To protect yourself from Hot metal or flying sparks, always wear leather flame resistant work-gloves when handling hot materials with tongs. Leather work gloves are recommended when sweat soldering as well.

Wear leather gloves, long-sleeve 100% wool or flame-retardant cotton shirts, pants, leather apron to protect from burns; don't wear flammable clothing w/cuffs, pockets; wear hightop leather boots w/out rubber/crepe soles.


NIOSH approved N95 disposable respirator

Fine metals students are issued a NIOSH approved N95 respirator at the beginning of class. Keep this respirator clean by keeping it in a sealed ziplock bag when not in use. Any student required to wear a disposable respirator must get medically cleared to do so and must take the online Disposable Respirator training. Login and see the Disposable Respirator training in the column on the right.


Dress Code

Closed toe shoes are always recommended. Do not wear fleece clothing while using a torch. Long hair must be tied back. Remove loose clothing and jewelry when using any piece of equipment that rotates such as the flat sander or polisher.

Fire Prevention and Safety

Fire Prevention

Acetylene is a highly flammable gas. Explosion and fire hazards are by far the greatest concern when storing or working with acetylene gas. Read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to learn how to work with acetylene safely. Some basic information about acetylene includes:

  • Acetylene becomes extremely dangerous if used above 15 lbs of pressure.
  • It has a disagreeable odor but it is readily detectable.
  • Acetylene is a colorless gas.
  • Prevent fire or explosion by opening gas valves slowly.

Surfaces in the studio where acetylene is used are made of stainless steel. Remove any combustible/flammable material from the area where an acetylene torch is being used.


Fire and Life Safety Equipment

The Fine Metals studio has a fire extinguisher by the emergency exits. Locate these before you get started working in the fine metals studio.

To use a fire extinguisher properly and safely, it is best to have hands on practice. Fire Extinguisher training is routinely offered on campus. Groups that would like to take fire extinguisher training can request this at safety@uvm.edu.


Fire Safety Procedures at UVM

Locate the emergency shower in the Fine Metals studio before you get started. Make sure you receive training on how to use this important piece of emergency equipment.