12 Ways To Keep Yourself And Others Safe In A Woodworking Shop

This Post is courtesy of guest blogger Abe Knepp of www.itsamishmade.com

Wood Working Safety

Whether you’re in a woodshop for work, or to visit for some other reason, safety must always be a top priority. People lose body parts and even their own lives in woodshops every year. The following 12 tips will help reduce your risk to a minimum.

1. Inspect The Work Area Before Beginning

It’s not just important that you know your way around the woodworking shop. You also need to know what’s where at any given time. For example, things left out to dry or set can pose as obstacles. Take a quick jaunt around and inspect the place, even if it’s your own garage. This may seem basic, but you’d be surprised how many accidents happen because of this.

2. Always Tell Someone What You’re Doing And For How Long

Under the “just in case” type of scenario, you want to inform someone of your intentions to work in the shop. Let them know about how long you’ll be in there and what you’ll likely be working on. Accidents can involve all types of situations, such as those that would render someone unconscious or otherwise unable to help themselves. It doesn’t need to be an awkward announcement, just a quick heads up to someone close to you.

3. Dress For The Occasion

Be sure and wear comfortable clothing that isn’t going to catch on any machines. It should be loose enough fitting to keep you flexible, but not so much that it impedes your ability to maneuver around dangerous equipment.

4. Invest In Solid Safety Equipment

You probably wouldn’t get on a motorcycle and drive in excess of 80 miles per hour without first putting on a dependable helmet and you should take the same approach whenever you enter a woodworking shop. Whether it’s a welding shield, gloves or boots, don’t be caught with any safety equipment that might let you down.

5. Check Your Safety Equipment Prior To Entry

In the army, soldiers don’t pull out for a mission without inspecting all of their equipment for functionality. You should maintain the same type of diligence with all of your safety equipment and tools.

6. Never Work in the Shop When You Are Excessively Tired

Even if you’re pressed for time on a project, don’t show up at the shop if you’re tired or otherwise ill prepared to maintain an adequate level of alertness. This includes when you are short on sleep, stressed or have partaken of any alcoholic drinks.

7. Always Unplug Your Tools Before Fixing Or Adjusting Them

While it may take extra time, it’s extra important that you avoid working on a power tool when it’s still plugged into an outlet. Disengage the source of electricity and voila, you’re good to go.

8. Inspect Wood Prior To Cutting It

Make certain any wood you’re going to be sawing into doesn’t have any nails, screws, staples or other metal objects embedded in it. This safety check is often overlooked, despite how dangerous that can be.

9. Don’t Be Precarious Around The Equipment

If you don’t have good balance or are being forced to contort yourself at a precarious angle in order to work, stop what you’re doing and rearrange the environment, in order to avoid not having complete control. You don’t want to be extending your arms over moving blades and you want to have solid footing at all times.

10. Be Constantly Aware Of Your Surroundings

If there’s a garage door open, wind or people could creep up on you; if there’s a dog or child roaming the building, they, too, could catch you by surprise, possibly putting all of you in danger. Either seal off the area you’re working in, or be alert to major changes in your surroundings that could spell trouble.

11. Take Care With Power Cords

Not only do they pose a tripping hazard in woodworking shops, if you’re not well organized with your cords, you might not be able to immediately tell which tools are plugged in and which aren’t. Always work neatly and conscientiously with cords, to avoid unnecessary risks.

12. Clean Up Immediately After You’re Finished

The safety of the next woodworking session is directly dependent on how well you clean up your last. Don’t leave odd pieces of wood hanging around and sweep up any debris you may have created while working. Most especially: unplug equipment you used and make sure it’s ready to go for the next person, even if that person is you.

Always make safety 101 your number one priority with woodworking. The risks are simply far too great to ever slack off.

Abe Knepp was born and raised in a “Horse and Buggy” Amish family in rural Indiana. He owns and operates www.ItsAmishMade.com where he sells custom hardwood kitchen cabinets.