Woodworking is among one of the safest and enjoyable hobbies you can do, provided you adhere to a set of rudimentary and easy to follow safety rules. These woodworking safety rules are designed to be easy to remember and are mostly common sense. That being said, failure to comply with the safety rules can cause serious injury. The work shop is not the place to careless. It is the place to learn and adopt good safety working habits which will in turn make woodworking more fun and enjoyable.
1. Always Wear Safety Equipment
This might seem like a common sense kind of rule, but it’s an important one to remember. During usage of loud power tools like routers and surface planers, wearing ear protection is a noted advantage. Similarly, wear latex gloves while applying finishes. NEVER BE WITHOUT YOUR SAFETY GLASSES. These should be the first thing you reach for when entering the shop.
2. Wear The Right Clothes
The problem with wearing baggy or loose clothes is the very high chance that a part of them might get caught in a cutting head or saw blade. As a result, try to always wear clothes that you are a better match for the woodworking environment, but also protect you. Also always ensure that any dangling jewellery or metal such as chains or bracelets, are removed before commencing work.
3. Avoid Using Anything That Can Impair Your Reaction Time and Judgement
It’s like when you’re driving a car: you want to stay out of the alcohol and drug cabinets to avoid accidents. In the wood shop, the dangers are even higher by inadvertently using the wrong tool because you’re too out of it to see what you are doing wrong. NEVER mix alcohol with work, even if it’s just a beer…or ten.
4. Disconnect Power
Always remember to disconnect the power source itself before changing blades or bits on your power tools. In addition to ensuring the switch is off, make sure there is no electricity being powered to the tool, since the switch can malfunction and/or accidentally get turned on.
5. Use A Single Extension Cord
Using one heavy duty extension cord for all your power tools will ensure that you switch off the power for each tool. Too many cords can get confusing and be a tripping hazard.
6. Never Use Blunt Blades & Bits
While this might seem obvious seeing as how dangerous a dull cutting tool can be. Dull tools will need to be made to work harder to cut and as a result can bind or kick back. Sharp bits and blades will ensure cleaner cuts as well.
7. Check Stock for Existing Metal
Before sawing through or making a cut, ensure that the piece of stock doesn’t have existing nails, screws or other pieces of metal lodged into it already. Spinning blades and nails (and other pieces of metal) don’t mix well together causing damage to both the stock and the cutting head. It can also cause stock to kick back and cause injury, so always ensure (or use a metal detector to ensure for you) that the stock is clean.
8. Work Against The Cutter
Most power tools are built in a way that requires the direction a piece of wood moves through the tool, is the opposite direction of the cutting head’s movement. So you need to ensure that the blade or router bit cuts against the motion of the wood instead of with it.
9. Never Reach Over A Running Blade
Always wait until a spinning blade has stopped moving before reaching to remove waste or cut-offs etc. Or to be on the extremely safe side, remove waste by using a push stick or piece of scrap so as to ensure an inadvertent power tool switch malfunction, doesn’t turn deadly.
10. Minimize Distractions
When dealing with distractions, you want to ensure that you finish what you were doing (finishing a cut, especially when working with a power tool) before turning your attention elsewhere.