Is your sewing machine protected?
Most of us are careful with our sewing machines. We have dust covers for them. There are special totes for sewing machines. We take them to be serviced. The list goes on and on.
You may be missing one source of possible damage to sewing machines!
First, here is a cautionary tale. A while ago I bought a brand-new sewing machine. It was my favorite brand. While it wasn't the most expensive machine, it wasn't cheap either. It had many features that my older machine didn't have because this one was computerized!
One day I reached over to start up the machine. I slipped away for a very short moment to get something I needed for my sewing session. Then I touched my machine.
My sewing machine had not finished "booting up" as the computer experts put it. And it never finished booting up either. I tried restarting it. I again got stuck at the spot where the lights were on, but "nobody" was there to work.
I called the shop where I had bought the machine. They couldn’t help me by phone. While that was no surprise, I was hoping to avoid a 6 hour round trip for them to look at it. (Ah, the perks of living in a rural area.) So I took my machine in and left it for them to examine.
What seemed like an interminable time passed. The shop called to say that it looked like one of the computer boards was fried. Did I want to replace it? Yes. So, I had to wait for the manufacturer's board to arrive and be installed before I could do another round trip to pick it up. And pay for it, too.
As far as I can tell, touching the machine while it was booting up transferred a small static charge to just the wrong board at just wrong time. When I got the machine home I took measures to prevent another occurrence.
My husband is a computer guy, and we happened to have an anti-static mat from when he assembled some computers. I found it and went to install it under my sewing machine. It didn't quite fit right going the length of the machine, so I turned it the other way. I used a small piece of an unneeded yoga mat to balance it out.
Since then I have become quite religious about touching the anti-static mat before I touch my machine. While I have not felt any big zaps of static electricity passing to the mat, I have felt a few "zits". If I'm really concerned about how much static I've picked up, I will touch my metal garbage pail first, then the pad.
This week I looked around at what anti-static mats are available online. (I don’t receive anything for these mentions.) Most of the mats that I’ve found are meant to attach to computers in a metal case by alligator clips (like this). Of course, most sewing machines no longer have metal cases now, so that doesn’t help. However, if you want to go whole hog, you can follow this person's directions.
The closest I’ve found to an ant-static mat like the one I have is this mat. It has a metal loop that attaches to your nearest electric outlet at the center screw. It’s not an inexpensive option, but it is less than a new board for the sewing machine.
Another person found a cheaper solution for working on his computer is this idea. If you like his solution, this product might be what you are looking for. It plugs into an electrical outlet, and you could attach it to your sewing machine stand.
There are even cheaper options. If your sewing table has a metal frame, touch that before you touch your machine. Another option is to have some sort of larger metal object near your sewing table, and touch that before touching your machine.
Of course, you could always do what you’ve always done. But is it worth the risk?