Woodworking is a fun, enjoyable, and rewarding hobby. It can also be a dangerous hobby if one is not careful with following proper safety guidelines. We’ve compiled a number of woodworking safety tips that are designed to make your woodworking experience as safe as can be. One slip-up can lead to serious bodily injury. While woodworking is fun, the woodworking shop is not a playground or a place to be careless.
The following woodworking safety tips are easy to follow and will allow you to continue an enjoyable and rewarding hobby while avoiding the dangers associated with power tools and sharp, spinning blades. Some of the most common pieces of safety equipment for woodworking are safety glasses, ear protection, and a quality set of gloves.
The 5 Most Important Woodworking Safety Tips
- Approach woodworking as if you were driving a car.
- Pay attention and stay focused on the task at hand.
- Follow the basic rules of woodworking.
Most people wouldn’t drink or do drugs while operating a vehicle. The same rule applies to woodworking.
Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while at the same time operating power tools, is a recipe for disaster. It pays to have a sharp and focused mind when woodworking.
Being aware of your surroundings, paying attention to where your hands are, and concentrating on your current task are the best ways to ensure a safe woodworking experience. You don’t have to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol to be impaired. Fatigue is a dangerous thing in a woodworking shop.
Fatigue causes a decrease in reaction time, critical thinking and judgment skills. Try to limit any woodworking while tired or not fully engaged. Likewise, try to take frequent breaks while working on your project as many hours of woodworking can result in fatigue.
There are a set of basic rules to follow when working in a woodworking shop and with woodworking machines. They should be followed with no exceptions.
- Always wear your safety gear including safety glasses at all times, hearing protection when using machines, and latex gloves when finishing projects.
- Never wear loose clothing. Your clothing should be tight fitted with no long sleeves, baggy pants, or hanging shirts. Shirts should be tucked in and long hair should be pulled back into a bun. Wear the appropriate footwear, flip-flops and sandals are not appropriate in the woodworking shop.
- Always disconnect the power source when working on machines or changing blades. It is better to avoid an accident than to suffer the consequences of losing a few fingers or even your hand.
Most power tools come with a variety of built-in safety features, don’t hastily go removing them as soon as you’ve taken the tool out of the box, they are there for a reason, use them! You can even add additional safety feature and make them right in the shop. For example, feather boards prevent kickback by keeping the stock against the fence during cuts. You can buy them commercially or you can make your own.
Maintenance is one of the most important things in any shop or anywhere that has machines and equipment. Dull tools are dangerous tools. A dull tool has to exert more force which can cause you to overcompensate and lose control.
Safety Tips for Using Power Tools
In addition to the important safety tips discussed above, power tools have a number of their own safety tips.
Only use machines that you have been properly trained to use.
Power tools, especially bench top machines, can be very dangerous when not used properly, hence the importance of proper training. Familiarize yourself with the tool and proper handling techniques before employing it in your woodworking project.
Wear leather gloves when handling wood, but not when operating machines.
A glove can be just as dangerous as loose clothing around machines with rotating blades and other parts where it may easily become caught. It can be easy to forget that you are wearing gloves when carrying wood to a machine to cut. Take a second before performing any cuts to make sure you aren’t unnecessarily placing yourself in danger.
Make sure machines are safe to operate before using them.
It is important to know first-hand that a machine is safe to operate before using it. Make sure the guard is in working condition, and in the appropriate position. Check and adjust any other safety feature as necessary before operating.
Verify that the machine is grounded properly before using. Make sure any adjustment tools are removed and out of the way before turning the power on. Inspect all wood for nails and other metal material before carrying, cutting, planing, or routing.
Try and use one extension cord for all the machines.
Using one extension cord will ensure that you have turned the power off on one machine before moving to another. Make sure you are using a heavy duty extension cord for all machines and power tools. Using an inappropriate extension cord is a fire hazard. Also having a rat’s nest of extension cords laying around can easily create a tripping hazard.
Never Reach Over a Running Blade
It can be easy to get distracted in the moment and reach for something without realizing that you are reaching over a rotating blade. Take time to properly setup your work piece in order to avoid a situation where reaching over the blade is necessary. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Common Safety Equipment
Being safe includes taking the proper precautions against the dangers that could arise from dust, debris, and even excessive noise levels. Eye and ear protection is an essential piece of the workshop and should always be worn. Ideally, a respirator should be used when cutting or sanding wood as some species of wood can be highly toxic, dust extraction should also be employed when possible. If you’ll be working inside a closed space, make sure it is properly ventilated.
Below are our recommendations for the best safety gear to keep in your workshop.
Best Safety Goggles
The DeWALT DPG82-11 is our pick for best safety goggles. They feature an elastic headband for worry-free wear around the job site, are highly resistant to scratches and have an anti-fog lens. You couldn’t ask for more.
Why It’s Our Top Pick
- Tough Lens
The lens is not only coated for scratch resistance but also features DeWalt’s “XtraClear” technology which virtually eliminates fogging.
Soft rubber covers the edge of the goggles which not only blocks dust and debris, but also feels comfortable against the face.
Best Hearing Protection
3M WorkTunes Hearing Protector
These quirky hearing protectors from 3M not only provide great hearing protection but also serenade you with your favorite AM/FM radio stations! They are lightweight, comfortable and feature easy to use buttons on the side of the ear cup.
Why It’s Our Top Pick
- Noise Reduction
Excellent noise removal thanks to a noise reduction rating of 24 db.
- Bass Boost
Two bass boost options to dial your music in just right!
The GVS SPR457 half mask respirator is compact, lightweight and filters against harmful dust that can be brought upon from sanding or cutting lumber.
Why It’s Our Top Pick
- Air Valve
The large air control valve adjusts breathing resistance and moisture build-up to make this respirator as comfortable as possible.
- 4-point Strap
Non-slip strap features 4-points of adjustment to get the fit just right.
Health and safety should be a matter of common sense, always use your best judgement when woodworking. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Take your time, make a routine, follow a plan, and be confident. Keeping these tips in mind while woodworking will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for years to come.
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