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The Amish Furniture Factory

Woodturning Safety Tips and Resources

Woodworking is an art that uses wood to craft and sculpt various objects. Skilled woodturners can make everything from elaborate pieces of furniture to wooden clocks, lamps, children's toys, and jewelry boxes, only to name a few. The design choices are only limited by the skill and imagination of the wood turner. For professional woodturners, and home hobbyists, woodturning is a rewarding and relaxing pastime, but just like any other hobby involving power equipment and sharp tools there is potential for serious life-threatening injuries. Equipment not in correct working order or the wood turner being distracted can mean losing a finger or facing a chemical burn. Though basic scratches are likely unavoidable following basic woodturning safety tips can help protect against serious injury.

Dress for Safety

  • Flying wood chips can cause serious injuries to the eyes and face. Wear safety goggles that also provide side protection

  • When having to work with loud machinery such as a power saw, wear ear protection to save hearing.

  • Pull back long hair from the face, tie it up and secure it under a cap or scarf so it can not get tangled up in the machinery or obscure vision.

  • Wear clothing that is well fitted since as baggy clothing may get snagged on equipment. No jewelry should be worn, especially rings, loose fitting bracelets, or watches. Men should never wear ties as they can get caught by rotating pieces. Smocks featuring Velcro sleeves and collars prevent snagging and keep dust out while providing unrestricted movement of the upper body.

  • Heavy tools can and will fall on the feet. Avoid wearing open toe shoes or sandals and stick with safety shoes.

  • Woodturning can send up a lot of dust that can settle into the lungs and cause respiratory problems. Always wear a dust mask when sanding or tuning wood. Some face shields on the market now include filters capable of cleansing the air before it is inhaled.


Working with the Lathe

  • Background knowledge is vital, when starting turning. Find an experienced turner and watch the proper techniques being performed. Look at woodturning books, instruction videos, and courses.

  • Carefully review owners' manuals and warnings included with the lathe and all other equipment before using.

  • Start the lathe at the slowest setting when turning it on, and than adjust to the speed needed. As a general rule of thumb, larger pieces of timber need slower speeds, as do unbalanced pieces.

  • Once the lathe has been turned on, it can never be left unattended. If walking away for any reason, turn it off and wait until it comes to a complete stop.

  • Before trying out a new technique, practice the move in your mind and then on a piece of soft wood first.

  • Vibrations, strange smells, or sounds may be a warning sign that the lathe is not working correctly. Turn off the lathe, and thoroughly check over the equipment before continuing to use.

  • Regularly review the condition of the lathe for correct alignment and operation.


Design of Workspace

  • Set up the workspace to create the optimal environment. Bright lighting is necessary to clearly see while working.

  • Extension cords may cause electric shocks, are a tripping hazard and should not be used.

  • To provide adequate ventilation against dust it is recommended that a dust extraction system be used. The workshop should also feature windows that can be opened for ventilation.

  • Clean up the work area, after each session. This includes cleaning all tools and placing up out of the reach of children. All machinery should be picked up off the floor and the floor swept when finished for the day.

  • At the beginning of each session check that all tools are properly sharpened, a dull tool can cause forced movements that lead to injury.


Emergency Preparedness

  • If injuries do occur, don't panic. Calmly view the injury and assess the damage, if the injury requires immediate medical attention call 9-1-1. Keep a phone in the workshop to get quick access to emergency medical services.

  • To handle minor cuts and abrasions, keep a first aid kit in the workroom.

  • Purchase several fire extinguishers and keep them fully charged in case a fire breaks out.

  • Creating an eyewash station or having a running sink in the workstation will be important if dust particles or chemicals get into the eyes. In case of chemical burns, water can also be used to flush the area for several minutes.


Common Sense Safety Tips

  • Pay attention to your body. Never try to turn if feeling fatigued, after drinking, or when heavily medicated.

  • Stay within the limits of your knowledge. Beginners should stick to procedures they understand. Attempting techniques designed for advanced users could have dire consequences.

  • Distractions could cause a wood turner to lose a finger. Do not bring a TV or any other electronics into the workspace. Inform family or others in the home that you are occupied and should not be distracted.


For more guidance on ensuring safety when woodturning visit the following links:

  • Conventional Woodturners Association: Use video instruction of basic woodturning safety to visualize the correct techniques.

  • Wood Turning Lathes: Any type of equipment can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Review these safety precautions before operating a wood turning lathe.

  • Basic Workshop Safety: A safe shop environment requires an organized workspace and avoiding distractions.

  • Stone Inlay for Woodtuners: Stone inlay is an interesting technique for woodturning. Follow these tips for safety assistance with carving, leveling, and adding filler.

  • Woodworking Leaflets: A wide variety of health and safety information offers support with handling toxic woods, handling wood dust, noise reduction, and machine safety.

  • Woodturners Safety Reminders: A quick checklist of basic precautions that all woodturners should be aware of.

  • Guide to Protecting Workers from Woodworking Hazards: Practical standards for prevention of explosions, fires, mechanical hazards, electrical hazards and other causes of injury.

  • Getting to Know the Tools and Equipment: Having comprehensive knowledge of woodworking tools is vital to ensuring your safety.

  • Lathe Safety: Wearing safety goggles and tying back long hair are only the beginning of proper lathe safety. Implement these tips in order to use your lathe safely and effectively.

  • Safety in Woodturning: Though serious injuries in woodturning are rare, full awareness of the dangers are what will keep individuals safe.

  • Be Safe When Woodturning: The right clothing, eyewear, and face mask are needed for injury protection.

  • Basic Woodturning Principles: Establishing good safety habits from the beginning will make all the difference for long-term safety.

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