Turning Archive 2004

Keeping Warm -- 3 tricks from the frigid North

Brad Vietje
>While my next shop will have radiant heat floors and a beautiful high-end lathe, the truth for many of us is an unheated or nearly unheated garage, and a very cold concrete slab. Here in Central Vermont, yesterday's high temp. was +3 F, and this morning it was -15. When its real cold, your feet and legs can ache, and I tend to get foot cramps, too. Those holiday deadlines just won't wait, so how do you stay warm ?

While the quartz radiant heaters that have been discussed before help a lot, they warm you, and whatever they are aimed at, but not the air or the floor.

Here are 3 ideas that can help a lot:

1. Aluminum socks -- No foolin ! You can get very thin socks from outdoor gear/Army-Navy/hiking & camping outfitters with aluminum threads woven into them. They are sort of shimmery to look at, and you'll never believe they work when you see how thin and whispy they are. They are really sock liners -- wear them against your skin under a good pair of closely knit wool socks, and they help a lot. The aluminum reflects your own heat back to you -- a sort of space blanket for the feet.

2. Nylons -- yup, knee-high nylons, like pantyhose. Again, and I'm going out on a limb here as a married, heterosexual male, but this is an old high school skiing trick -- they are used as a thin inner sock, between your skin and some good wool socks. The open weave of the nylon fabric acts like a thin layer of air between you and the itchy wool, and my memory is that it really works -- haven't tried this one in a number of years.

3. Chemical oxidant foot warmers. These are some sort of iron oxide granules in a sealed bag that when shaken and exposed to air, oxidize at a rapid rate (rust) creating heat. They work very well, but whenn placing them in boots, keep a pair of socks between you and the warmers -- you can get burned with these. You do want to avoid getting sweaty feet, as the moisture will eventually make you some sort of cold !

I've never been a huge fan of battery powered heated socks (standing on wires is no fun, and batteries don't last long in the cold.

Oh, and # 4 is to move south :)

Safe Spinning,

Brad Vietje
Thetford, VT

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