Woodworking can be a dangerous task, which is why it’s important to heed safety rules to avoid injury. Injuries not only require you to take time away, but may increase your medical bills as well.
You may think you know how to keep yourself away from harm, but our woodworking professionals have woodworking safety tips that can help anyone improve their woodworking environment.
Eleven Woodworking Safety Rules and Tips
1. Examine and Understand the Equipment You Will Use
Underestimating the capability and power of the equipment you’re using is one of the most common errors that result in accidents. Not understanding the cutting tools or using the wrong tool for your project makes it very difficult to carry out safety procedures.
It won’t matter how safe you are if you are using your table saw saw blade meant for plastics to cut metal. Some of our team members had to learn it the hard way, but know what your power tools are used for and how to operate them safely.
2. Always Have an Emergency Contact and Plan
It’s always smart to plan for the worst. Many woodworkers don’t formulate an emergency plan, but our testers and veteran woodworkers always do. It’s difficult to plan for unforeseen dangers, so the best you can do is have an emergency contact person and a plan.
Don’t work on something if you’re alone at the workshop or work site. Always keep your mobile phone close to you just in case you need to call for help.
3. Wear Safety Shield, Mask, Glasses, and Hearing Protection
Safety equipment such as safety glasses and gloves are some of the most important accessories to have when working a power tool. A running blade will churn up a lot of wood dust, which is why it’s vital to wear safety glasses and similar eye protection.
The gloves will keep your fingers safe from sharp blades, and so will a blade guard. Our technical team also says it’s a good idea to wear a dust mask or reliable respirator for woodworking to prevent inhalation of dust particles, especially if you don’t have a very effective shop vac.
Our team also suggests ear protection for woodworking projects that require loud equipment such as a chainsaw.
It’s imperative to keep your safety gear on even when you’re not operating a large machine. Surface planers and applying finishes can also pose some hazards. Our woodworking pros suggest wearing latex gloves if you need to have more freedom of movement.
4. Wear Appropriate Clothing
Even the clothes you wear could compromise your safety in a workshop. Loose clothing is a big mistake because they can get snagged on spinning blades, as could long hair and even accessories such as necklaces and dangling bracelets. The right clothes for the job is key.
Wear clothes that are form-fitting but still comfortable because you don’t want clothing that’s too tight it will restrict your movement.
5. Ensure Sufficient Lighting in Your Shop
Your wood shop should have plenty of natural lighting and enough artificial lights in place when the sun goes down. Good lighting is the key to visibility to avoid accidents. When you’re commencing with tasks such as blade changes or removing waste, you don’t want to accidentally trip over a cable because you couldn’t see clearly.
Where you place the light is also key. Switching on the overhead lights might not prove to be as helpful as an LED light directly on your tool. Wherever you place the light, make sure no shadows are cast over your line of sight.
6. Ensure Proper Dust Control and Room Ventilation
Keeping your wood shop ventilated is imperative. Our woodworkers have really found a difference between just one open window and a workshop that has adequate airflow. The machines will produce a lot of dust when the blade makes contact with the wood. It’s not enough to protect your body, don’t forget about your lungs. A heavy-duty dust collection system and ample ventilation will make sure your lungs are not compromised.
7. Sharpen Blades and Bits
If you spend any time in kitchen cooking, then you will know the logic behind what our experts are going to say next. The sharper the blades and bits are, the safer it is, similar to knives. A sharp blade will leave a clean cut with no cut offs or splinters that can penetrate your skin. A sharp blade is also more exact and surgical with its performance.
A drill bit or router bit needs to be sharp and maintained because dull bits can jam and become a safety hazard. Our woodworking veterans say carbide blades are among the best for longevity.
It’s our expert advice to invest in higher quality pieces made from more durable materials so you won’t need to sharpen the components as often. Aside from the reduced sharpening, these blades and bits will also last longer.
8. Use a Single Extension Cord
We know it can be difficult to adhere to this next rule, especially when you most likely have multiple power tools. However, you should really only have one heavy-duty extension cord to minimize tripping hazards . Consolidating all the cables into one location instead of being plugged into multiple power sources will also make your shop a safer environment.
9. Turn Off Power During Blade Change
This one may seem like common sense, but our professional woodworkers are often surprised by how many people forget to disconnect power or switch off the power source before changing blades. Our team stresses that the only way to do blade changes safely is to do it when the woodworking tool is off.
Sometimes your blade might stall before the blade change, and our team advises never to try to remove the stalled blade before you switch off the machine.
10. Work Against the Cutter
11. Examine Wood for Nails and Other Metal
Important Dos and Don’ts
Don’t Leave Machines Unsupervised
Our woodworking veterans say many people, beginners or professionals alike, will forget to power down their tools or leave a running blade unsupervised. You never know who may not realize the power tools are still running and accidentally get nicked. Accidental contact with a blade is easier than you think, so always remember to wait until the blade has stopped moving before you leave.
Do Take Breaks
When you are tired, you tend to lose focus and concentration, which can result in many dangers and injuries in the workplace. Working for long hours is taxing, and everyone deserves a break . Take some time away from the wood piece and the tool, it can better protect you and those around you if you are 100% engaged.
Don’t Work Under the Influence of Alcohol
Do Eliminate Distractions in the Workshop
Importance of Observing Woodworking Safety Guidelines
Our team members also follow general woodworking safety guidelines and occupational safety guidelines outlined in the OSHA standards. Not only should you follow these guidelines when using power tools and heavy-duty machines, even hand tools can be hazards without proper preparation.
Taking proper safety precautions can prevent lost time if you are injured from a kick back or a running blade.
It’s also a good idea to invest in insurance if your jobs feature a lot of liability. There are even insurance companies out there that can issue a proof of insurance in minutes.