microtome knife safety

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From:Gayle Callis <uvsgc@msu.oscs.montana.edu>
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Leica used to make a lovely magnetic knife protector, for both the cryostat
and the 2035 microtomes, fit over the disposables.  Also have some that you
can put OVER the ends of long c profile steel knives, particularly useful
in the cryostat for the d profile tungsten carbides that Lipshaw (old) used
to make.

These are invaluable devices, no longer made, sadly! when you have to
fiddly dink with a block face, and without them our grad students would be
fitted with finger prosthesis, with the brush taped to them in order to do
a frozen section!!

You can invent this device with cheap, magnetic flexible flat sheets, and
do some sort of looping of a curved surface over the knife with elevators
at each end, to protect the blade.  I think I used a pasteur pipette, cheap
plastic, and some superglue.  There are other tiny magnets, plexiglass
plastic, etc to create your own finger protectors!

Removal of the blade is good advice, but I tend to be very cheap with
knives, and like to use the edge up first on disposables, particularly in
the cryostat.   The protector allowed this, but was more for the tweaking
of the block face, microtomes move!  

Question:  do your people LOCK the microtome when messing with screws,
adjustments, etc, that is a usual culprit (two instances of major stitching
come to mind!).  Not a good thing in a cryostat with fresh tissues.  and
using chainmail gloves is not the answer, would like to see the person who
suggested that TRY TO CUT with them on, bet they are not microtomists
fighting with a paraffin block that is being difficult.   

I would hope the vendors would bring back knife protectors and IF they
already have these, HOORAY!!  As for concentration when they zone out
during sectioning, not much can be done but warn them about whacking off
fingers, end up in surgery putting things back on or together. I (the local
Goddess of Microtomy!) found putting the fear of losing a finger was
effective, but what a terrible thing to do to some poor person, scare them
into pale pea green shock before sectioning.  It works though!  Goddess's
yell also!

Live long and prosper, and remember Mr Spock's hand sign, hopefully your
microtomists will have the fingers available to do the Spock wave!

Gayle Callis
Veterinary Molecular Biology
Montana State University
Bozeman MT 59717-3610
406 994-4705
406 994-4303

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