Safety Tips and Precautions for Woodworkers

Working with tools can sometimes be dangerous. Over the last twelve years, I’ve had my share of nicks, scrapes, and one serious accident. When I look back on all the times I’ve had a “close call,” I realize they were caused by a number of things. Primarily, I wasn’t paying full attention to the task at hand. But there were a few times that I was tired and should not have been in the shop. Often, we don’t take the time to read all the safety instructions packaged with a new tool.

To avoid injury, read all the manufacturer’s information, don’t work if you’re tired, and eliminate any distractions so you can fully focus on the task. Spending the afternoon in a hospital emergency ward isn’t much fun.

Protecting Yourself

Sawdust is a fact of life in the shop and it can be dangerous, and even the best table saw can’t clean it’s own sawdust. Wear a dust mask when sanding or with any operation that creates dust.

Your ability to hear is another one of the senses that can he affected when using power tools. Wear earplugs or any of the other hearing protection aids that are available. Never turn on a machine without wearing hearing protection.

When you start woodworking, the first thing you should do is put on your safety glasses. If you normally wear glasses, get a prescription pair that is safety-rated.

Always know where your hands are when operating equipment. I ask myself that question each time I turn on a tool. And always use push sticks, paddles and guards. All machines should be operated with all safety attachments in place at all times.

Tool Safety

The router is one of the woodworker’s most important tools. It can create designs in minutes that would have taken a person days to finish by hand. It’s one of the best tools a woodworker has but it demands lots of respect.

Be mindful of where your hands arc with this and other power tools. High-speed router and drill bits, saw blades and sanding belts can just as easily cut you as wood.

Be careful!

More Safety Rules

Here are just a few safety rules that should be kept in mind and taught to anyone who works in your woodshop:

Read and understand all the instructions that come with your tools. Always wear safety glasses because even the most innocent looking hand too1 is a potential hazard. Be aware of the position of your hands and fingers when operating power tools. Keep a fire extinguisher in the woodshop and have it inspected regularly. Install a smoke alarm in the shop, as there is always a potential combustion hazard with sawdust and chemicals.

Wear hearing protection when using machines or power tools. Use caution when handling or disposing of chemicals. Wear a dust mask or respirator when there is a potential of high dust or chemical odor.

Work under proper lighting. If the area is properly lit, the chance of an accident is greatly decreased. Never attempt to change blades or bits on a tool that’s connected to power. Pull the plug or turn off the circuit breaker. Do not work when you are tired or taking medication. Keep blades and bits sharp. Dull tools can cause an accident.

These are a few safety rules that everyone should follow. But above all else, use common sense. If an operation seems dangerous – do not do it! Find another way to safely accomplish the task.