Tools & Workshop

Workshop Safety

Workshop safety consists of more than just wearing proper protective gear. Here are a few other guidelines:

Know Thy Tools. If you've just bought a new tool, especially a power tool, read the manual. As a matter of fact, even if you've had a tool for years, reading the literature that came with it will probably teach you something new about what the tool can do, or a better, safer way to do it.

Turn It Off Before Tuning It Up. When changing blades or adjusting a machine, unplug the tool. Always.

Clear Away the Clutter. Keeping too many tools and other objects on a benchtop makes your work more difficult-and makes tool operation there riskier. An accumulation of sawdust or offcuts on the floor is a stumble in the making.

No Smoking. Don't smoke in the workshop. Paints, solvents, and lots of other materials and supplies almost always found in a workshop are a potential fire hazard. Smoke outside, and, even there, don't stub your butt out in a pile of sawdust.

Store Your Tools Properly. Don't let tools accumulate underfoot as you move from one operation to the next. At cleanup time, put the tools back where they belong, in a tool cabinet, on a high shelf, or in other safe spots. Unplug them when you are finished.

Keep Your Tools Sharp. A dull tool requires added force (and increases the risk of injury). Maintain your tools carefully in other ways, too. Not only should cutting edges be sharp but they should be stored correctly to keep them that way, with their edges protected.

Keep It Grounded. Power tools should be properly grounded. Don't cut off the grounding prong on power cords, but plug them into matched receptacles or extension cords. Make sure plugs and power cords are in good order, with no bare conductors. Don't use the cord to lower the tool to the floor or to carry it around.

Never operate power tools on a wet or damp floor or in otherwise damp conditions. Dangerous electric shock can result. If you have a vintage power tool that isn't double-insulated, make double sure the tool is properly grounded.

Use the guards and other safety devices that came with your tools. Keep your working area well lit. Always use the right tool: Don't ask a minor league tool to do a major league job. And lift objects correctly (back straight, using legs for lifting), bending with your knees.