Power Tool Safety


Basic Safety Rules for all power tools:

  1. Safety Glasses are a Must
  2. Keep all body parts at least 2” away from anything that moves. Do not perform any operation that involves any body part getting within the 2” zone.
  3. Hold all wood tightly and securely either by hand or with a push stick. If this is not possible then do not use a power tool!
  4. Watch out for jewelry, long hair, baggy clothing, and silly stuff like scarves, ties, and comically baggy pants.
  5. Installed Safety Guards are Required Necessities! They are there for many reasons and must not ever be removed or altered!
  6. Never use headphones to listen to music while in a school shop. Essential communication is often impossible with the headphones rendering the wearer deaf to any instruction or warning.
  7. Pay attention at all times to what you are doing, and do not ever skip or alter any safety rules! (Especially when you think you know everything)!
  8. Do not ever use a tool unless you know all the safety rules for that tool!
  9. Plan ahead! Plan exactly what you are going to do, and have all tools within reach before turning on the machine! Never plan to figure anything out while you are doing it!
  10. Make sure not to cut metal, as very few wood working tools can safely cut metal.
  11. When operating all power tools continually ask yourself the “what if” question: What if my hand and/or the wood slips? The answer should never indicate that you could cut yourself. Never push directly toward a blade or bit. Never trust luck!
  12. All power tools require the wood to be held flat on the table at all times. The only exception are the power sanders where the board can be held at an angle as long as it does NOT touch the table at all.
  13. Do not ever use power tools when under the influence of any medications that can alter coordination or concentration. You need all of you there when using any and all power tools! Never use tools when overly tired, angry, or distracted.  Only use power tools when you are at your best!

Router Safety

  1. The wood must be clamped securely, unless using the table router.
  2. Never push with your hand directly toward the bit. The “ What if” rule applies here. You should always be asking yourself: What if my hand and/or the wood slips? The answer should never indicate that you could cut yourself.
  3. Hold router with two hands unless using table router. If using table router hold wood with two hands.
  4. Take light cuts and move quickly so the bit does not burn the wood.
  5. Climb cut whenever possible and hold very tightly to wood/router. This is where you cut in the direction that the bit is spinning.
  6. Never reach across blade. Keep wood in between operator and bit.
  7. Router bits must be always installed as far as possible into router to prevent them from coming loose.
  8. Make sure bit and table are secured before turning on router. Then watch for a change in the cut on the wood that will indicate a loose bit or table locking nut.


Lathe Safety

  1. Always hold cutting tool tightly with two hands.
  2. The tool rest should be positioned as close as possible to wood.
  3. Tool rest must be adjusted so that tool can be held horizontal when cutting wood.
  4. Take small cuts at higher speeds.  Large cuts can be quite dangerous and can cause tearout.
  5. Remove tool rest for sanding and finishing.
  6. Frequently monitor spinning stock tightness. Screws on a faceplate can also loosen.


Drill Press Safety

  1. Clamp small pieces. The big concern is not holding the wood tightly and having it spin around the bit.
  2. Never leave chuck key in the chuck.
  3. Make sure bit is very tight in chuck.
  4. Long boards must be supported.
  5. Always drill into scrap wood, never the table.
  6. When drilling metal all pieces must be clamped regardless of size.
  7. When possible try not to drill too slowly where bit can get hot and scorch wood.


Band Saw Safety

  1. Always concentrate and constantly remind yourself of the moving blade. Some injuries occur when the operator loses track of where the blade is.
  2. When finishing a cut reduce pressure on wood so that it does not jump forward when the cut is completed. The wood should not loose contact with the blade after the cut is completed.
  3. Use a push stick to remove any scraps from near or behind the blade.
  4. Back up carefully.
  5. Do not stall out blade by making too small a curve.
  6. Make relief cuts when cutting inside shapes.
  7. The Guide arm should always be close to the top of board being cut.
  8. The wood must be held flat on the table. No angled cuts are allowed.



Radial Arm Saw Safety

The Radial Arm Saw is somewhat of a white elephant in that it relies on rather ancient technology, and it is encumbered with lots of extra parts that provide for versatility that usually goes unused. It is also much less accurate than the Miter saw, a bit harder to use, and very time consuming to keep in accurate adjustment. Any change in function requires quite a bit of work to produce accurate cuts. Using it as a table saw with the blade facing parallel to the fence is downright dangerous! We use it for simple 90 degree crosscuts. That’s it. It is a lot of saw for a relatively simple operation.

  1. Keep all body parts out of oval safety zone that surrounds blade at all times on RAS.  This includes removing scraps and sawdust after the cut is made. This also includes making measurements while the saw is running.
  2. The board must be held flat on table and securely against fence at all times.
  3. Must have larger size measurement on fence than perpendicular to fence. (Taller than fat rule).
  4. Pull slowly so as not to stall out blade.  Often the saw carriage must be held back so it does not feed too quickly into the wood.
  5. Keep table clear of scraps and sawdust to produce accurate cuts.
  6. Always check the saw for accuracy by cutting a scrap piece of wood before trusting the set-up.


Table Saw Safety

The table saw has falsely earned the bad reputation of being an unavoidably dangerous tool.  The financially biased manufacturers of safety equipment and the overly careful worry-screamers rabidly preach that table saw safety is not possible for the common wood worker.  This is completely untrue!  Used properly the table saw is actually one of the safer tools in the shop!  You will quickly gain confidence using the tool as long as you do not skip any of the safety rules. Yes, ignoring the rules with this tool is as dangerous as ignoring the safety rules on any other tool. It is certainly possible to cut yourself on the spinning table saw blade in the same manner that you can cut yourself on the band saw, or cut yourself when using a kitchen knife. All blades tend to indiscriminately cut whatever is fed into them. Important note here: There is nothing inherently evil about the table saw that makes you more apt to cut yourself on it over any of the other power tools.  Follow the rules and you will be fine!

  1. All guards and splitters (aka riving knife) must be in place.
  2. The side that will run on the fence must be true (flat).
  3. The board must be held flat on table and securely against fence at all times.
  4. Use a push stick any time fingers must come within 2” of guard or blade.
  5. All boards must be at least 10” long on fence to be controllable. A 10” or 12” blade does not cut curves without a messy argument!
  6. The operator must have hold of the piece of board in between the fence and the blade at all times.  The wood in between the blade and the fence can kick back if not held once the cut is completed. The only acceptable technique here is to be pushing on the piece of wood that is in between the fence and the blade. For this reason you cannot use the miter gauge and fence at the same time. This is one of the most important safety rules in the shop!
  7. Push the wood completely past blade before letting go of the wood.
  8. All boards must be supported as they enter and exit the machine. Large boards cannot simply be left to hang off of the table saw without being held by a helper or by a support table.
  9. Always check the accuracy of the set-up before making critical cuts. There is never any guarantee that the saw will cut the angle that you want unless you check it yourself.


Miter Saw Safety

The Miter saw is the modern much improved replacement for the radial arm saw. It is far more accurate, easier to use, and costs about a third of what a good radial arm saw costs. It does not have the capacity of the radial arm saw nor the versatility, but its ease of use and easy accuracy more than make up for it. It is even quite portable so bringing it to the jobsite is quite easy.

  1. The minimum size for a board varies with where on the board the cut is to be made. The operator needs at least 3” to hold on the fence on whichever side the board is being held.
  2. The board must be held flat on table and securely against fence at all times.
  3. The miter saw cuts pushing the blade toward the fence and never away from it.
  4. Narrower boards should be cut by simply lowering the blade at full speed.
  5. For wider boards the saw is pulled all the way away from the fence, run at full speed, then lowered into board, then pushed toward the fence while holding it all the way down in the table cut groove.
  6. Always check the accuracy of your set-up before making a critical cut. Though this is an accurate tool it still cannot read your mind and set itself up all by itself to what you are thinking!


Jointer Safety

  1. The minimum size for a board is 10” on table. Any shorter and the board can get racked in between the tables.
  2. The board must be held flat on table and securely against fence at all times.
  3. Use a push stick any time hands must get within 2” of guard.
  4. The tool can only be used moving the stock from right to left.
  5. Wider boards must be held securely to prevent vibration and loss of control.
  6. Always check the accuracy of the set-up prior to making critical cuts. Simply run a board through to check the angle. The jointer does not mind cutting the wrong angle for you.