Keeping tools unplugged?

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Forum topic by CharlesA posted 08-06-2014 02:18 PM 2096 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3329 posts in 1823 days

08-06-2014 02:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question safety

Somewhere when I was setting up my shop, I remember reading the tip that one should use one centrally available extension cord in the shop and power tools should only be plugged in when in use. This was relatively easy for me since I only have one outlet in the shop. So I run a couple of power strips off of it for cordless tools shop lights, etc., but I keep one extension cord that hangs from a couple of hooks in the middle of the shop. It is relatively convenient to the tools and it keeps me honest.

Is this a common practice or do most folks keep their tools plugged in?


-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

30 replies so far

View BJODay's profile


526 posts in 1968 days

#1 posted 08-06-2014 02:24 PM


When I set up my first work shop my kids were toddlers. I wired the outlets through a switch and mounted it up near the ceiling. It was a stretch even for an adult. Even now I lower my saw blade and unplug tools when I’m done with a task. I worry, (perhaps too much), that someone will bump a switch without looking at the tool to make sure it is clear of junk and safe to operate.


View hairy's profile


2718 posts in 3557 days

#2 posted 08-06-2014 02:24 PM

Almost all of mine are unplugged. The exception is a hanging air cleaner, and I probably will unplug it now that I’m thinking about it.

I had a lightning strike where we once lived, that’s my reasoning. It is good for safety if kids are around.

-- My reality check bounced...

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1449 days

#3 posted 08-06-2014 02:26 PM

Machines that line the wall and do not move much are left plugged in unless they are being serviced. They all run off the same wall switch and that is turned off whenever I am not in the shop.

Machines that get pulled to the center of the workshop get unplugged after every use since I usually have to walk around them. I have a retractable electrical cord that I use for these machines. Makes it much easier to keep cords out of the way but easy to access when needed.

Saw blades get retracted below the table surface after every use.

-- Brad, Texas,

View firefighterontheside's profile


18351 posts in 1881 days

#4 posted 08-06-2014 02:28 PM

My tablesaw and router usually are plugged in. I usually have one extension cord plugged in and will commonly leave the ROS plugged into it, but will try to unplug anything like a circular saw from it. I try to always lock my shop to keep my kids out, but sometimes I forget. Oh yeah, bandsaw and drill press usually stay plugged in.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View ChrisK's profile


1972 posts in 3106 days

#5 posted 08-06-2014 02:39 PM

All of my big tools are plugged in all of the time. The smaller ones usually stay plugged in for the duration of the project. If i know that younger visitors are coming over to the shop the smaller tools may get unplugged for safety. Though young visitors are pretty rare these days. My boys have been educated about shop rules and do not bring friends in unless I am there.

-- Chris K

View Robin1's profile


137 posts in 1516 days

#6 posted 08-06-2014 02:58 PM

I always unplug everything. Small kids are main reason but, due to the number of electrical storms we get, I would unplug anyway.

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3096 days

#7 posted 08-06-2014 03:18 PM

I don’t have any kids around but I usually unplug my tools anyway when I’m done for the day. Somewhere I just picked up the habit to unplug power tools when not in use; I’m not sure where, but it makes sense to me.

Also I try to stay in the habit of checking the power switch before plugging a tool back in. A while back I loaned my rotary tool to a friend, and when he returned it, it was turned on at the highest speed. A couple times I’ve also pulled my router out of the router table and forgotten to turn off the router’s power switch when plugging it directly into the wall. That’s always a little scary.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View whope's profile


142 posts in 2470 days

#8 posted 08-06-2014 03:24 PM

I have everything plugged into a switched outlet which I turn off unless I’m actively using it. The dust collector is left on (normally), so I have an audio indication that power is applied.

-- Measure it with a micrometer, mark it with chalk, cut it with an axe.

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1590 days

#9 posted 08-06-2014 03:32 PM

I have everything plugged in at all times. Table saw, jointer, planer, dc, and a shop vac all have dedicated 20 amp breakers individually. I don’t have any kids or young ones that ever enter my shop. If I did everything would be unplugged.


View bigblockyeti's profile


5139 posts in 1746 days

#10 posted 08-06-2014 03:37 PM

I used to have everything plugged in all the time, but with my kids becoming more interested in what I’m doing out there, I’ve made it a point to unplug everything that poses any safety risk around little ones. While this includes pretty much everything, another reason I found to do it is when working on something it’s by default unplugged so additional effort isn’t required before beginning maintenance. The only possible risk is on my belt/disc sander as it has a push button switch that doesn’t incorporate a magnetic starter, so it could be turned on while unplugged and start as soon as it’s plugged in (it’s not obvious that the switch is on or off just by looking at it). I’m considering installing a magnetic switch for just this reason.

View jdmaher's profile


430 posts in 2604 days

#11 posted 08-06-2014 03:40 PM

Everything is unplugged, except a shop vac.

I once had an adult visitor to my basement shop, who found my tool collection fascinating. I gave a tour and left him looking at my planes and chisels and workbench while I went up to get us iced tea. While upstairs, I heard the tablesaw start up! Just dumb lucky that I had the blade off for a cleaning.

There ain’t no cure for stupid. I recommend prevention.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Sanding2day's profile


1013 posts in 1872 days

#12 posted 08-06-2014 05:39 PM

I have three stations: one that has the air compressor and miter saw plugged in continually and simply lock the saw down while not in use.

Another with the drill press, table saw, band saw, blade runner, and floor lighting plugged into a power strip. I like this setup because the floor lighting is left on so when the strip is turned on the light is on – a good reminder to turn it off while not in use.

And the final strip has the disc/belt sander, planer, scroll saw, and shop vac hooked in. This one gives me the most trouble as the power requirements to run the sander and shop vac simultaneous will often trip the strips cutoff but works well for any individual tool.

-- Dan

View Woodbum's profile


813 posts in 3090 days

#13 posted 08-06-2014 07:45 PM

Stationary tools stay plugged in, but with the blades and bits lowered and /or covered or with the fence or in the case of the drill press, removed. If I’m in the middle of a project and will be using a tailed hand tool again, then it stays plugged in. Otherwise it is unplugged and stored. All tools with any tension on them (bandsaw, scroll saw and Incra positioners) get “un-tensioned” at the end of every shop session. Luckily, I have enough plugs and circuits, and I hate crawling behind/around tools to plug them in. No kids or foot traffic other than yours truly in the shop, but that is what I have gotten used to over the past 30+ years.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3503 days

#14 posted 08-06-2014 07:48 PM

Unplugged or breaker off.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View Don Broussard's profile (online now)

Don Broussard

3571 posts in 2276 days

#15 posted 08-06-2014 09:21 PM

I run most of my tools from an extension cord, so the cord is unplugged when I walk away from the shop. I don’t have any stationary tools that are wired into their electrical service point. Like others have posted, the table saw blade is lowered below the table when I’m through for the day. Also, I have a leak on my air compressor, so if I don’t unplug it, it’ll run on and off all night long.

I had not even considered the side benefit of saving motors from lightning strikes. Definitely a side benefit—main one is saving other people from themselves.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

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