Woodworking Tool Safety

Woodworking Tool BeltWow, do we have to even go into this? Well, maybe. In 2000 a gentleman in Finland was injured while trying to open a hand grenade with a chainsaw (I’m not making this up). Surely you are a little more safety minded than that, but still people make mistakes or skip safety steps all the time, so a nice review of basic woodworking tool safety is probably a good idea.

Safety Glasses

Basic safety gear is important. When you picked out your first saw, you should have been picking out a pair of quality safety glasses as well. Two Pair is better as these are easily misplaced.  Even if you wear corrective lenses, you are still vulnerable to dust and flying metal and splinters from the side. Even if you are working alone and your work is in front of you, dust particles are sure to be swirling around. They won’t permanently blind you (maybe) but a scratched cornea is no fun at all.

Ear Buds

A comfortable pair of headphones or ear buds is recommended for woodworking tool safety as well. No, not like for your MP3 player, the safety kind. Even with minimal use of your power tools, high frequency sound can damage your hearing, and hearing does not return once it is gone.

Work Clothes

If you like making a fashion statement, great, but high fashion has no place when it comes to woodworking tool safety. Wearing loose fitting clothing might seem like a good idea when it gets to be a little cold in the shop; buy a heater and keep your shirttail in. This isn’t about looking sharp, it’s about cloth getting caught in a circular saw and pulling you in -ahem- belt buckle first. I’m willing to bet the guys will pay attention now.

The same goes for sleeves; loose sleeves are just begging to be twisted into a blade. By the same token, wear a shirt when you are working. You wouldn’t fry bacon without one, why would you want 90 mile-an-hour woodchips flying at your chest? Take off loose fitting bracelets and necklaces as well. They can become tangled and are not as likely to rip and let you out as clothing. Besides, who are you trying to impress?

The Correct Tool for the Job

The right tool for the job is a cliché we have all heard so many times that my hand just got cramped typing it, but it’s true. This is one of the fundamentals of woodworking tool safety.

Using a screwdriver in place of a chisel is probably the most common mistake. The simple solution to this is to use a chisel and for Pete’s sake, chisel away from yourself. In fact, perform ALL work away from yourself. If there is a slip or miss whatever goes flying does so across the room and not into your face.

Power Cords

Make sure you unplug all power tools when not in use. This is in every woodworking tool safety handbook in the world! Another tip is to just use one power cord in your shop period. This will force you to un-power all the tools you are currently not using. It’s a hassle but so is keeping body parts on ice until you get to the ER.

No Day Dreaming

Pay attention to what you are doing. When you are making a cut, keep an eye on the blade. One glance away combined with one slip, or one miscalculation as to where your fingers and hand are could result in a lifelong nickname no one wants. Do you understand me Stumpy? While we’re on the subject of cutting; make sure to check for nails and other chunks of metal that might be in your stock before you cut.  Keep those blades sharp. 
Take Every Safety Precaution

There is a lot more to woodworking tool safety than what has been outlined in this article. There are actually people who make a career out of making sure others are being safe, but it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe at home. There’s no such thing as workman’s comp for someone who hurts themselves on their own time.

Read all the safety precautions on every new tool you buy and keep the manuals. This might sound overly cautious to some, but you started woodworking as a way to improve your quality of life, how is getting hurt going to do that? So consider woodworking tool safety as a way to continue your quality of life.