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Shop Safety Primer
READING THIS DOCUMENT IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR TAKING A SHOP SAFETY SEMINAR
Master Power Switch:
State of Mind:
Just don’t use the tools if you’re not feeling alert. It’s not worth it. Do your work the next day.
Before you use any tool, secure all loose things that are attached to you. These may include hair, jewelry, and loose-fitting clothing. It is easy to get pulled into the strong rotational force of the power tools’ cutting apparatuses.
Now that your long hair is tied back, put your safety goggles back on.
Don’t wear gloves, they prevent you from being able to feel what’s going on with the tool. The exception to this is the metal bender. Always wear gloves when working with sharp-edged metal.
Consider also using hearing protection. Some of the tools can be quite loud. Damage to your hearing is cumulative, and might not exhibit symptoms for 10 years or so. By the time you start to notice, it could be way too late. If it’s loud enough to make you cringe, wear sound-dampening ear muffs or earplugs.
Make sure that the tool you are using is in proper working order. If you suspect that it might be under repair, or in need of repair, don’t try it out just to make sure. Contact a staff member, and inquire about the tool’s state of readiness.
If a drill bit, or saw blade is noticeably discolored (sometimes they turn blue with wear) or otherwise damaged. Don’t use it. If you notice that a tool is broken (even if it breaks while you are using it) contact a staff member immediately.
Make sure that the path around you is clear. It is important that people do not bump into each other, or trip on something or slip on sawdust. Be aware of the people around you, make sure that when you move a long piece of wood, that it’s not going to hit anyone. Make sure that the people around you are wearing their goggles before you begin to cut. Make sure that when you back away from the tool you are working on, that no one is behind you.
When you use a tool make sure the environment directly around you is clean and comfortable. A cluttered, or inconvenient work area can be dangerous. Clean up, and organize things before you begin. Your work will go more quickly, smoothly and safely. It’s worth 30 seconds of vacuuming, and 30 seconds of re-arranging.
Make sure that you are personally comfortable. Be aware of the way you are standing. Do you have good leverage on the tool? Are you able to reach the controls comfortably?
Before you turn on a tool, make sure you know what path the moving parts will make. Do a dry-run, without the tool powered on. This way you can ensure that your hands are not in the path of the cutting surface., and that your arms won’t have to cross each other and so forth. This can be especially important for those who are left handed, as tools are often designed with right-handed people in mind. Sometimes it is helpful to use a piece of wood with a notch in it to help you hold your subject in place – like a stilt for you hands.
Be sure that you know which direction the rotating parts of a tool will begin to rotate in when they are powered up. The cutting surfaces will tend to pull the subject being worked on in the direction of their rotation. This is extremely important when you are determining the best way to hold, or secure the subject.
Be prepared for the tool to kick. Due to the laws of momentum and inertia, a power tool will usually exert some kind of kinetic force on the user. These kicks or jolts usually occurs when the tool is first powered on, and when the tools cutting surface first comes into contact with the subject that is being worked on. Be prepared for this, and make sure that you don’t flinch or let go of the tool when this happens.
Never turn a tool on while its cutting surface is touching the subject that you are about to cut. The tools need a second of free-rotation in order to get up to the proper speed. Turning on a tool while its in contact with the subject can cause the tool to jam, or bind or kick very hard.
While you are using a tool, be aware of the sounds that it is making. If you hear an unusual change in pitch, a clunking noise, or a grinding noise for example, stop using it immediately. The sound that a tool produces can be a good indicator of the tool’s health. An unusual sound can indicate an unhealthy tool. An unhealthy tool can be dangerous.
If a tool breaks while you are using it, tell a staff member! Don’t leave it for the next person. A dysfunctional tool can be dangerous. Tools break sometimes. You will not be punished just because it happened to break while you were using it.
When you are finished using a tool, clean up. Put all the hand tools and clamps away, and clear wood or metal shavings away. Always leave the area that you were working in as clean, or cleaner than when you began.
The drill press is designed to drill through relatively thin pieces of material. (If your drilling though metal, it should be especially thin.)
The part of the drill that holds the cutting tool (called the drill bit) is called the chuck. The chuck has teeth that bite down on the bit in order to hold it in place. The teeth are tightened and loosened by hand using a small gear with a handle on it, known as the chuck key. Ideally, the chuck key will be tethered to the drill press. If it’s not, make sure that you place it next to the drill when you’re finished with the tool. Don’t walk off with it.
When you tighten the chuck onto the bit, make sure the bit goes in straight and that it is well tightened. Especially with smaller diameter bits, it is possible for the teeth to grip the bit unevenly. This will cause the bit to protrude from the chuck off-center. You can double check a bit’s alignment by standing back, and briefly running the drill – allowing it to spin freely. This will clearly reveal whether the bit is in properly, as it will wobble if it’s not in correctly. If the chuck is not tight enough, the bit may get stuck on the material it is cutting, and slip inside the chuck. If this happens, turn off the drill.
The platform’s height is adjustable. Adjust its height making sure that the drill bit that you are using will go all the way through the material.
Make sure to clamp your material to the platform. For smaller pieces, you may need to use the drill press vice.
Make sure you are aware of the springiness of the handle on the drill press. Don’t just let go of it, allowing it to snap back into place.
If you’re drilling through metal, make sure to use cutting oil.
You should consider buying some drill bits for your own personal use. This will ensure that you have the right sizes on hand.
Before you cut, make sure that you are able to hold the subject so that it is steady, and in a way that your hands are nowhere near the cutting path. For long pieces, you may need to use clamps for stability. If someone helps you hold the material, make sure that they are also wearing goggles.
The blade is covered by a plastic guard. DO NOT LIFT THE GUARD MANUALLY! The guard will be lifted automatically as you cut.
Before, you cut, make sure that your cutting stroke will make your cut completely. If the subject is too large, use a different tool. When you cut, make sure to complete your cutting stroke – push the saw all the way down.
Radial Arm Saw:
The saw is only set up to cut 90° angles. Do not try to change its angle.
Rest your material against the perpendicular guard rail that runs along the shop table.
The blade has a metal guard that raises itself as necessary. Never raise the guard by hand.
When you make your cut, be ready for the saw to kick. Never let go of the saw while its spinning. After you’ve made the cut, immediately slide the saw back to its starting position (WHICH ALWAYS SHOULD BE AS FAR AWAY FROM YOU AS IT WILL GO). Wait until the blade comes to a rest before letting go of the saw. Do not touch your subject until the blade is motionless.
Before setting up to sand, take careful note of the direction of travel of the band and wheel. They will tend to pull your subject in their direction. Always hold your subject firmly against the provided platforms. (Never free sand by holding your wood against some arbitrary point on the sanding surface.)
Also before you sand, inspect the sanding surfaces. If they appear to be worn smooth or torn, do not use them. Contact a staff member.
While you are operating the sander, be mindful of any unusual vibrations. If it begins to vibrate strongly, stop using it (turn it off), and contact a staff member.
NEVER use the sander on plastic or metal.
Before you operate the saw, ensure that the blade is not snapped, and that the doors to the blade pulleys are closed. Adjust the height of the blade guard just enough so that it will clear your material as you cut. Never run the saw with more blade than necessary exposed. When you are finished, return the guard to a very low position for the next person.
When you cut, make sure to keep your hand well away from the blade. When your cut is finished, turn off the saw and wait for it to come to a stop before you remove your material.