General Safety Tips and experiences Thread

  • Advertise with us

« back to Safety in the Woodworking Shop forum

Forum topic by IsaacH posted 09-15-2012 03:40 PM 1801 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View IsaacH's profile


128 posts in 2061 days

09-15-2012 03:40 PM

I know I’m one of the new guys here, but I thought a common thread for safety tips would be a good idea after seeing some of the posts over the past few days. I’ve been involved in safety training for the construction industry in the past and currently work for a great company that is actually safety oriented (instead of just paying it lip service like is so many employers do). If sucessful, this thread can stay current and near the top…if not, im sure it will fall into obscurity…but lets give it a shot!!!!

Thread rules….... though I really have no say so in the matter :-P

Safety tips and safety related experiences only please.

Please do not give any unresearched advice or any ”hey, this one guy said...” type of advice. Bad safety advice can sometimes be WORSE than no advice at all!

I don’t think ”hey that happened to me too” posts or ”i agree” posts would be productive….but if you have something productive to add, feel free!

Linking to other safety related threads or news articles is a good thing!!!

Alright…........lets see if this works!!!

-- Isaac- Decatur, GA - "Your woodworking....NOT machining parts for NASA!!!"

17 replies so far

View IsaacH's profile


128 posts in 2061 days

#1 posted 09-15-2012 03:55 PM

I’ll go ahead and start this thread..

Gloves, when to wear, when not to wear.

I once got a safety violation slip on a jobsite from the know-it-all safety man for not wearing gloves while threading some pipe. I explained to him that for that activity, wearing gloves created a greater hazard than a cut or metal splinter. I recieved the slip anyway, but made sure to touch on the topic during a safety class I was teaching 2 months later….that the “safety man” was attending.

There are times when wearing gloves can be DANGEROUS. For wood working those are primarily while using:

Table saws
drill presses

The risk of drawing your finger, hand, arm, or entire body is far greater than the splinters or cuts that the gloves may or may not protect you from.

-- Isaac- Decatur, GA - "Your woodworking....NOT machining parts for NASA!!!"

View IsaacH's profile


128 posts in 2061 days

#2 posted 09-15-2012 04:25 PM

Here is the Kickback video thread

Kickback Video Thread

-- Isaac- Decatur, GA - "Your woodworking....NOT machining parts for NASA!!!"

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3123 days

#3 posted 09-15-2012 04:39 PM

Okay, I’ll play.

Always have a procedure on a tool that you will always repeat. For example, with the table saw, i have a rule that I must always crank down my blade after a cut. This prevents me from forgetting about the still spinning blade after powerdown while I’m still working around it. With the blade guard in place, it’s redundant, but a lot of cuts cannot use the blade guard.

-- jay,

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3858 days

#4 posted 09-15-2012 06:05 PM

I think the greatest safety lesson involves the brain and the five senses. If it doesn’t look safe, feel safe, smell safe, or sound safe, then its probably not safe. If you are unsure, even the slightest, then don’t do it as the brain is pretty good and getting a consensus.

Triple check everything before engaging the start button. Stop and listen, watch it.

Shirt tucked in, no gloves, no bling, no distractions that could alter your focus.

Biggest mistake on table saw that I see is what people look at when cutting, ripping etc. They are instinctively drawn to focus on the saw blade when in fact, the saw blade will never move from its position. It spins fast but it wont move but people focus on it and thats when people get hurt.

Know where your hands are in relation to the blade and the motion/direction they will go when they pass nearest the blade. Be very sure you know where they are and then stop watching them.

Turn the focus to that which is being cut and to make sure it is firmly planted against what ever fence it rides against and apply forces to keep it there, never taking your eye off the fence because as soon as you look at the blade, and the piece is drawn away from the fence even the slightest,……. BOOM, kick back.

I’ve been blocked by some for telling the maker of a video, that their video is nothing more then a lesson in self mutilation and amputation techniques : ((

No Booze

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3858 days

#5 posted 09-15-2012 11:35 PM

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View TechRedneck's profile


768 posts in 2821 days

#6 posted 09-16-2012 12:36 AM

Gloves have no place in the shop when using power tools. Only time I use them is stacking rough cut lumber.

Another danger around drill press, table saw, router, band saw is long sleeves. In the winter, I wear a long sleeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up to mid arm.

I wear glasses but have a pair of safety glasses for any helpers.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3858 days

#7 posted 09-16-2012 01:44 AM

roll the sleeves up

if for no other reason

is to make a surgeons job easier

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3249 days

#8 posted 09-16-2012 01:56 PM


I know where you’re coming from and I believe most woodworkers think about safety most of the time, but that’s the whole point….... it only takes a split second and one dumb move to really get hurt in the shop. I would like to talk a little about safety that may not have anything to do with you actually getting hurt in the shop (not unless you’re caught in the shop when it happens) and I don’t think it gets covered enough when talking woodworking; Fire!

Two things come to mind;

#1. Clean shop. Saw dust can be very dangerous to our health, but it can also be a terrible fire hazzard. A lot of woodworkers have dust collectors, they clean off benches, sweep the floor and blow dust off shelves, work benches, etc; but how many have ever pulled a dust cover off their table saw, band saw, stationary sanders, planer, jointer and the list goes on and on. Over a long period of time a lot of dust can build up around the motors and if these are never cleaned out, all it takes is for a motor to overheat and you can have a fire….....and this can happen long after you turn everything off and leave the shop. Saw dust can smolder for hours before it either goes out or it gets enough oxygen to ignite.

#2. Finishing supplies. Any and all solvent based products should be stored in a steel cabinet that can be closed tight. One of the most dangerous things when finishing, is disposing of used rags that are used for applying stain or finish. NEVER, EVER wad up a rag you just used for staining or finishing and throw it in a trash can! It’s amazing how much heat can build up and eventually that rag can ignite.

I was working late @ my shop one night ( my shop was located in an industrial park). When I left that night I saw a light flickering from the inside of a cabinet shop just down the street from my shop. I thought it was strange for the owner to have left some sort of light on, so I rode down to see if someone was there or what. To my surprise when I pulled up to the front door I could see Fire!
I called the fire dept. and the owner of the shop and watched in horrior as the fire began to spread from a can to a work bench. After the fire dept. arrived and put out the fire, they discovered that one of the employee’s had stained a bunch of cabinet doors before leaving for the day and when he got done he threw the staining rag in an empty gallon container on the floor. It took hours for the rag to ignite, but it did and ended up catching the work bench on fire also. The only thing that saved the cabinet shop was a concrete floor and the fire dept. got there before it spread from the burning work bench to the stained doors that were only a couple feet away and the rest of the shop

I know for a lot of the woodworkers, finishing is something they are just getting into and even though you may be only finishing one project at a time and all your finishing is done by hand, you really do need to think safety when it comes to finishing your project.
I hope this will help someone.

Thanks IsaacH for starting the thread and I hope everyone will chime in with some safety tips.

-- John @

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3511 days

#9 posted 09-16-2012 02:31 PM

I’ve learned a lot from online reading but my single largest teacher has been what us referred “school of hard knocks”. So likely what I may have to say is not backed by research thus my hesitancy to post. I would think as the owner of a custom cabinet shop and doing wood working full time has taught me a great deal.

While there are multiple safety rules in our shop we can discuss, many of which have been mentioned, I will limit to just one area.
When changing out blades /paper on anything, the shaper, TS, miter saw, drum sander, edge sander (we unplug). When changing molding and planing knives out, we pull the power cut off out and set it on the work space. This ensures 40 amps are cut and safe blade change out can occur. Before opening a cabinet shop and back when I worked out of my garage, I was changing the shaper cutter out when my 2 year old walked by and turned the shaper on for me. Ooooops. So much of my experiences have been from “oooooops”.

We also have a regular shop safety meeting which helps a great deal. Hope this info is helpfull.

-- .

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3249 days

#10 posted 09-16-2012 04:07 PM


You make a great point. We are creatures of habit…......good or bad. Get in the habit of always unpluging a tool before changing a blade, cutter or paper and it becomes a good work habit, always wear safety glasses when in the shop, it becomes a good work habit; always use push sticks, etc. when working close to blades becomes a good work habit.

I had an employee that I spent months trying to break him of all his bad work habits he acquired before he came to work with me. He never wore glasses, it didn’t matter how close his hands came to the blade on the table saw, if his finger fit between the blade and the fence, he would push the board thru. He was always in a hurry, and he never picked anything up. He would not listen, would not change, so I finally had to let him go. He was a talented woodworker, but was nothing more then an accident waiting to happen and I didn’t want that in my shop.

Jerry, good to see you’re still here and helping others. Hope things are going well for you in the cabinet business.

-- John @

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3858 days

#11 posted 09-16-2012 04:16 PM

Shut the shop down at the end of the day.

I got lucky once and heard a noise at the compressor motor, turned to see it explode into flames. had I not been there, the place would have burned to the ground.

the rags some one mentioned. Spontaneous combustion, seen that happen too. I always put them outside to dry, hanging on a cloths line.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2758 days

#12 posted 09-16-2012 04:25 PM

School of hard knocks. Yep. Yesterday I had a couple of small 1/4” hardboard pieces that needed to be just a little thinner. Put them on my belt sander and held them down with my 2 pointer fingers. One of them slipped…. Both fingers have bandages on them today. I got one of them pretty good. So:

Extra caution needs to be exercised when working with small parts. Use grippers, push sticks, etc.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3858 days

#13 posted 09-16-2012 04:28 PM

watched a guy thickness plane a thin board, knot slipped out causing wood to stop so he used his thumb to push the knot back in only to have his thumb sheared off……Ouch

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View a1Jim's profile


117062 posts in 3541 days

#14 posted 09-16-2012 05:40 PM

Lot’s of good points here
While teaching a beginning adult woodworking I’ve found that some of the most innocuous tools and techniques still can cause injury. Even though using a drill press seems like a fairly easy and safe tool to use it still can be dangerous. There’s another post going now about a 17 year old girl who had a big chunk of hair been pulled out when use a drill press, because of her loose long hair hanging down and getting wrapped up in the chuck of the drill press. Another way to get hurt using a drill press is drilling holes in small pieces of wood with out clamping them,the bit can get stuck and make the wood twirl causing great injury to any body part in the way.
Another tool that people under estimate it’s possible injury factor is a band particular using a push stick to finish a cut through stock while ripping. I talked to a 20 year wood shop teacher and asked what tools did his students get injured on the most and he said the band saw hands down.
A maintenance issue that can cause injury is having dull blades and work surfaces that are not clean and waxed. When using a table saw or jointer if the the table surface is not cleaned and waxed you need to exert much more forward pressure to get the stock to feed through and many times when you feeding your wood push with a lot of force all of a sudden the wood will slide through much easier putting your hands much closer to spinning blades than you had anticipated perhaps causing serious injury, this can hold true with using dull blades also.
Some other mistakes newer woodworkers make is to help someone who is ripping wood on the table saw and pulling while the person ripping wood is pushing .This can end up with the person ripping the wood hands being pulled into the blade by the person who thinks they are helping. I’ve also had students free hand cutting wood on the table saw(not using the fence of miter gauge) when ripping and even crossing cutting wood. This is about as basic as it gets your just asking for trouble freehanding table saw cuts. Another issue on the table saw is where you stand in regards to a possible kick back and also if your feet should slip out from under you when using the table saw. I teach students to try and have a hip in contact with the table saw so there feet won’t slide out from under them if there is saw dust on the floor(this technique is only valid if you have a heaver cabinet saw). There are many ways to get hurt while woodworking,in short, the most important safety device you have is between your ears.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2649 days

#15 posted 09-16-2012 06:23 PM

hard knocks college for most of us, especially for us that picked it up on our own. fortunately I only audited the classes (with one or two exceptions but I still have all 10).

so here’s offering #1…miter saw cut-offs…how many people do a “close cut” and then try to trim with the cut-off piece still on the table? bullet in the making.

showing 1 through 15 of 17 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics