Working in your shop may give you a feeling of accomplishment and provide a livelihood, but the shop can still be a dangerous place. Whether you’re a beginner or have been working with wood for a while, it’s always a good idea to review safety tips.
Check-in with your common sense, shop practice, and policy to help ensure you’re working safely. You’ll be able to continue your woodworking for a long time with the right tips and tricks for keeping things secure.
Here are the woodworking safety rules you need to know:
- Always Wear Safety Gear
- Keep The Proper Safety Tools
- Disconnect The Power
- Replace Your Blades And Bits
- Double And Triple Check Materials
- Keep Your Shop Clean
- Never Work With Impaired Judgment
- Use One Extension Cord
- Never Reach Over Your Blade
- Read The Owner’s Manual
Why Should I Review Safety?
Safety rules are such an important part of working in your shop. When you’re a beginner, you’re more likely to pay attention to what you’re doing, but there are many things you don’t know because you lack practical experience.
As you get more comfortable with woodworking, you gain that critical experience. However, you’re more likely to move quickly through projects or be more comfortable than you should be with the day to day actions of working with power tools.
Reviewing safety tips helps you build the experience you need while ensuring healthy respect for the shop and its tools. It’s always a good idea to check in with your actions to ensure you continue to operate safely.
Essential Woodworking Safety Tips — Our Top Ten Must-Dos
These ten safety tips help you cover a range of activities in the shop and ensure that everyone, including you, has the best chance of coming out of the shop happy and healthy.
01. Always Wear Safety Gear
Sure, you may be making a quick cut or doing something that “just takes a second.” There’s a lot that can happen in that one second. Taking the few minutes to put your safety glasses on, for example, could save you a world of trouble if a stray piece hits you in the eye area. Wearing earmuffs or earplugs for hearing protection is necessary as well.
While you’re at it, your clothing is also part of the safety equipment and gear package. Avoid loose clothing and jewelry because it can get caught in blades or gears. Ensure that your shop clothing covers your legs and arms, but stays close to your body.
02. Keep The Proper Safety Tools
In addition to your safety glasses and dust masks, you’ll need the proper safety tools to ensure a safe workspace. Your shop needs an accessible fire extinguisher, fire alarm, and first aid kit. When trouble happens, you’ll be ready with a solution.
03. Disconnect The Power
A quick blade change can be a costly mistake if you accidentally turn on the switch. Whenever you’re working on power tools, even for a minute, disconnecting your woodworking tool from a power source is the only way to make sure that the tool doesn’t accidentally deploy while you’re in the danger zone.
04. Replace Your Blades And Bits
You want to save money in your shop, but not by pushing tool components past their expiration date. A dull saw blade is more likely to cause kickback or sling particles off the wood, causing injury and damage. Go ahead and invest and change blades once you’ve sharpened them past the safety limit.
05. Double And Triple Check Materials
Taking just a few seconds to check your materials for metal pieces such as screws or nails could help save you a lifetime of regret. Metal can cause your tool to kick back, and you risk your finger, arm, or worse coming in contact with the spinning blade. Take the time to check and recheck.
Take a second to double-check any clamps you’re using to make sure they’re secure. Loose materials can cause you to lose control of your wood piece or tool. Taking just a few seconds to double-check will ensure proper placement.
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06. Keep Your Shop Clean
Debris is a hazard. Not only are you breathing in shop dust, but trip hazards could cost you a body part. Clean as you move along to help remove hazards from your path and take the time to clean fully each time you finish your work. Gather sawdust so that you can reuse them later for other purposes.
This is more than trip hazards. Small distractions can cause big trouble as well. If you’ve misplaced your small tool, it could distract you from doing other safety procedures. Keep things organized to prevent distractions.
07. Never Work With Impaired Judgment
The warnings on the side of some medicine bottles telling you not to take that medicine and drive are real. If you’ve used any substance that alters or impairs your common senses, judgment, process, and reflexes, that’s not the time to head into your shop for some work.
Even a small amount can cause changes in your cognitive abilities that are imperceptible to you but can cause you harm. Only work in your shop (or drive a vehicle) when you’re clear-headed and clean.
Never work in your shop when you’re tired. Fatigue can cause just as much damage as mind-altering substances. Make sure you’re well-rested, so you don’t risk your health and well being.
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08. Use One Extension Cord
You may be creative with your woodworking, but getting creative with your power is another thing entirely. Hooking up multiple extension cords to get power to your tool can cause shorts, fire hazards, and other dangers. You’re never out of danger for electrical shock or getting cut by using power tools or hand tools.
Rearrange your shop so that you prioritize your outlet space. Preferably, your power tools should plug directly into the wall for the best result. If you must use an extension cord, only one is the safest policy. And while you’re at it, tuck cords underneath safety mats to reduce trip hazards.
09. Never Reach Over Your Blade
Some people say never to reach over your saw blade while it’s running, but we’re going to expand on that. Reaching over your blade is a huge no-no even if the cutting tool is off. For example, while working with your table saw, it could short or accidentally turn back on.
Even if the tool is unplugged, get in the habit of never reaching over your blade. Muscle memory can kick in at any time, so making this an all-around policy will help train your body to avoid this motion no matter what. Use another piece of wood to clear the path if you must, while the cutting tool is off.
10. Read The Owner’s Manual
Manufacturers go to a lot of trouble to produce owner’s manuals for their power tools. Keep your manuals organized in an accessible place so you can refer back to them if you need to. When you purchase a new tool, take the time to absorb the information in the manual before getting to work.
These can become a vital part of your tool use. Even if you’ve worked with that type of tool before, familiarize yourself with the manual anyway just in case there are changes to the operation, or in case there’s information you missed the first time around.
Conclusion: Staying Safe In Your Shop
Your woodworking hobby is a vital part of your life, so don’t let a lapse in judgment ruin it. Use your common sense, take the time to walk through basic safety before, during, and after you work in your shop or on your project to set yourself up for woodworking success.
It’s easy to forget these safety rules or to overlook them in the name of a quick activity, but slowing down in the shop is the biggest safety rule of them all. Be methodical and careful each time, and you’ll be a safe and confident woodworker for life.