Woodworking Safety for beginners

General Woodworking Safety Rules

In order to keep yourself out of the obituaries or to avoid a nickname like “Lefty”. Please follow these General Safety Rules as you get started woodworking

Woodworking is a wonderful hobby but it does come with inherent risks. Anytime you use tools that cut wood, common sense tells you that those same tools will cut skin easier. These woodshop safety guidelines are extremely important to getting started woodworking successfully.

The rules are fairly comprehensive, but of course they don’t cover every situation or every tool. Each and every tool will have its own set of specific safety requirements.

I can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance of reading owner manuals and understanding completely the operation of tools before you start using them. It’s a rule both beginners and experienced woodworkers should pay attention to.

I’ve tried to make this rather long list easier to remember by making two categories of rules: Always rules and Never rules.

1)    Always wear safety equipment:

a)     Safety glasses, these should be the first things you put on when you go to the shop and the last thing you take off when you leave.

b)    Face shields

c)     Dust masks

d)    Hearing protection appropriate for the type of tool or equipment being used.

Safety Glasses

2)    Always dress properly:

a)     Do not wear gloves any loose fitting clothing or jewelry.

b)    Keep long hair tied back especially around any moving equipment.

c)     Wear sturdy shoes or boots no open toed sandals or bare feet.

d)    Only use gloves when handling or stacking rough cut lumber.

e)     Do not wear gloves when operating woodworking machinery.

3)    Always have good lighting.

a)     You must be able to clearly read measuring devices and clearly see saw blades, bits, and drills as well as the cut-lines on the material you are cutting.

4)    Always read and understand the owner’s manual prior to using a tool or piece of equipment.

5)    Always keep your work area clean and uncluttered clean up any spills immediately and keep the floor free of scraps of wood sawdust, and clutter.

6)    Always use safety guards for each piece of equipment. Make sure they are installed correctly and in operating condition.

7)    Always keep tools sharp. Be sure your drill bits, blades or any cutting tool is sharp and in good condition before using.

Woodworking tool sharpening

a)     Throw away or sharpen dull or defective blades chisels cutters drill bits etc…

b)    Un-sharpened tools can cause accidents and produce poor results.

8)    Always keep all your equipment in good shape by cleaning, sharpening and oiling regularly.

9)    Always ensure the equipment is grounded properly before turning it on.

10) Always check the power switch is off before plugging in a woodworking tool.

11) Always keep power cords safely away from the operating area of equipment.

a)     Keep electrical cords off the floor to prevent tripping.

b)    If possible, hang power cords and wiring from the ceiling.

c)     If using an extension cord, be sure that it's the correct wire gauge and has a ground plug.

12) Always check your wood or “stock” for nails, staples, screws, or other issues like loose knots before using.

13) Always beware of kick-back:

a)     If possible, wear a leather apron and don't stand in line with the Saw-blade, planer or jointer.

b)    If a kickback happens, material in the machine can fly back at you and cause a very serious injury.

14) Always concentrate on the work at hand. Do not hurry, or day dream.

15) Always keep your hands and fingers at a safe distance from blades and any rotating parts while working.

16) Always use a push stick to push the stock into the cutting area whenever possible.

17) Always secure wood or material with clamps or a vise, especially when cutting, drilling and sanding

18) Always keep an ABC class fire extinguisher close by and make sure everyone that uses the shop knows where it is and how to use it.

19) Always use the right tools and equipment for the job. Never “rig” a tool or attachment for use on a machine that it wasn’t designed for.

20) Always work on a stable surface. A slip could cause your fingers, hand, or arm to contact a saw blade or cutting tool.

Fire Extinguisher

21) Always avoid distraction. Don't listen to radio's or music while working. Turn off Power tools if you must speak to another person.

22) Always keep your work area orderly by storing cut off materials or small stock in a wooden box to use for other projects  

23) Always use dust collection and exhaust systems (if you have one) to keep your workshop air cleaner and save a lot of maintenance work in the future.

The "Never" Rules

1)    Never stand in water and use any electrical tool or machine. Never use electrical tools outdoors in foul weather.

2)    Never make a tool adjustment with the power on. Always unplug the machine when changing blades, bits, etc.

3)    Never leave a machine if it is still running. Turn it off the and wait for all moving parts to stop.

4)    Never use a machine until it is running at the full speed for its proper use.

5)    Never use a Power tool that makes an abnormal sound, makes an unusual smell like burning plastic, or if smoke is visible. Turn it off immediately and make sure the problem is corrected before using it again.

6)    Never use any Wood shop tools if you are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or any medication that can slow down your reflexes or compromise your judgment

No Drugs Woodworking

Safe woodworking is Fun woodworking

Nothing ruins a good time woodworking like an injury.

Even small cuts on fingers can cause a normally fun and enjoyable task to be painful and awkward...which then becomes a risk of injury again.

Please enjoy this amazing hobby by following these general rules and above all remember, a good healthy dose of common sense will go along way to protecting you and providing many years of woodworking enjoyment.