Sure, you know your tools and materials. You’ve done it all before, right? But all the same, you can never take safety for granted. Here are a dozen things to ponder before you begin any woodworking project.
1) Do you know exactly what you’re going to do, and feel like doing it? Think through the operation and the moves you must make before you make them. And don’t do anything with power tools if you’re tired, angry, anxious, or in a hurry.
2) Is your work area clean? Keep your work area uncluttered, swept, and well lighted. The work space around equipment must be adequate to safely perform the job you’re going to do.
3) What are you wearing? Don’t wear loose clothing, work gloves, neck ties, rings, bracelets, or wristwatches. They can become entangled with moving parts. Tie back long hair or wear a cap.
4) Do you have the right blade or cutter for the job? Be sure that any blade or cutter you’re going to use is clean and sharp so it will cut freely without being forced.
5) Are all power tool guards in place? Guards — and anti-kickback devices — also must work. Check to see that they’re in good condition and in position before operating the equipment.
6) Where are the start/stop switches? Ensure that all the woodworking machines you’ll use have working start/stop buttons or switches within youre easy reach.
7) Are the power cords in good shape? Don’t use tools with signs of power-cord damage; replace them. Only work with an extension cord that’s the proper size for the job (see chart, below), and route it so it won’t be underfoot.
8) Do you have your power tools properly grounded? Tools other than double-insulated ones come with three-wire grounding systems that must be plugged into three-hole, grounded receptacles. Never remove the grounding prong from the plug.
9) Do you know what safety equipment you need for the job? Around cutting tools, always wear safety glasses, goggles, or a face shield. Add a dust mask when sanding. Wear hearing protection when required. (If you can’t hear someone from 3′ away, the machine is too loud and hearing damage may occur.)
10) Where are the chuck keys and wrenches? Check that all chuck keys, adjusting wrenches, and other small tools have been removed from the machine so they won’t interfere with the operation.
11) Have you checked your stock? Inspect the wood you’re going to use for nails, loose knots, and other materials. They can be hidden “bombs” that possibly may injure you or damage your equipment.
12) Where’s your pushstick? Keep a pushstick or pushblock within reach before beginning any cut or machining operation. And avoid getting into awkward stances where a sudden slip could cause a hand to move into the blade or cutter.