My Dad worked making wooden steps, cabinets and windows for most of his life. He managed over 40 years at that dangerous business without losing a body part. But ever since I could remember, he would grace the dinner table with the latest accident drama at the mill. These graphic dinner table tales that would’ve made Stephen King proud taught me two valuable lessons – the importance of never taking woodworking safety for granted and how to gross out people I don’t like at the dinner table. So now I’m sharing the love. Thanks, Dad.
Stay Aware Of What You’re Doing
If you forget all of the other woodworking safety tips in this article, for Pete’s sake don’t forget this one. Where is the tool? Where are your body parts? Are they protected? Are you awake enough to do this project properly? Pay attention to what you are doing, even if it means telling your co-workers to shut up.
Gandalf the Wizard said, “Short cuts make long delays.” Maybe Gandalf worked as a carpenter in his pre-wizard days. But you should take the same advice when woodworking. Take your time to do a job right. This will ultimately save resources, time and possibly your body.
Any wires or loose carpenter nails on the floor of your woodworking shop is just an accident begging to happen. Don’t let it. Make sure tools are stored properly, the floor is swept and that your hair or sleeves can’t get caught in any machinery. Sweeping the floor also gives your back a break from lifting or bending. It can also save you the agony of a potential explosion, which will be explained later.
The Force Is NOT With You
Inevitably in woodworking, things get stuck. A piece of wood can get jammed in a saw, a screw in a drill all kinds of quasi-nightmares. Do not try to force any tool or screw or piece of wood to go where you want it to go. The only thing that will go anywhere is you to the emergency room. Turn things off, take a deep breath and look at the problem. When all else fails, ask someone for help.
Open A Window, Will Ya?
Woodworking means working with a lot of fun things like stains, lacquers and paint. Working with them can be very satisfying but can also knock you on your butt. Those fumes can get you sick or knock you out. Take breaks. Work outside if you can. If you can’t, open a window, get a fan going do something to keep the air moving over you.
If you use a fan, use an explosion proof fan. And don’t let dust sit around. Sweep up (see “Tidy Up”.) Sometimes the dust from these solvents is flammable and easily go BOOM. Explosions are only fun on July 4th (or November the Fifth, if you live in the UK.) They’re not a lot of fun when they are in your basement.
Everyone feels like they are in control when they are on drugs or alcohol. That’s the drugs and/or the alcohol lying to you. If you are woozy, put off working with sharp tools if you can. Even if you are over the counter drugs or prescription medication that knocks you for a loop, you should not be in the woodworking shop. You may not wound yourself, but may wound a co-worker.
If you follow these six rules, then you’ll be able to avoid accidents while woodworking and having really disgusting story material to share at dinnertime.