Promoting safe woodworking in our meetings, demonstrations, and in our members’ shops is a key priority for our group.
Boards fly out of control – The unexpected can easily happen when working with a shop tool. It is usually due to a mistake we made in a set up. Boards fly away or cutting tools go where they were not intended. Even simple hand tools sometimes get to your hands first and not to the wood.
I became more aware and alert to the need for safe practices with age and experience. A recent vivid reminder for me was a board that came “ripping” back out of my table saw recently and shot across the room. I was standing to the side so no damage was done, and no pain was inflicted. My mistake was not setting up a controlled way to completely push the narrow strip through and past the blade.
Fast-moving tools deserve your full attention – I have a respectful “caution” of fast-moving tools as well as stationary tools that have edges. Today, I am more fastidious about using jigs, fences, hold-downs, and other clamping devices when presenting a piece of wood to a cutting tool. I am constantly reminding myself to put a guard back in place when preparing to make a cut. The small amount of time is well worth it.
Hand tools require concentration also – My chisels are very sharp and will cut me if I look at them it seems. When a chisel is in my hand, I try to constantly keep it pointing away from me. If it must point towards me, I will have it in a controlled lock. I have learned the hard way that even the humble screwdriver should not be pointing towards your palm when pressing hard to get a screw to turn. A slip can be painful.
Fumes are a silent danger – One of the most important and least appreciated dangers is the need to wear an appropriate mask. This protects you from dust and damaging fumes when using strong solvent-based finishes like varnishes and lacquers. A quality mask is not expensive and can protect you from irreparable damage. Don’t ignore it.
Work safe and I hope to see you at a meeting soon.