– Ben Martens

Tool Safety

safetyfirstcartoonA wood shop can be a dangerous place. There are blades spinning and cutting all over the place. One key part of staying safe is knowing what can be dangerous. A 2011 study from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System lists these as the top injuries:

  1. Table Saw: 39,750 annual injuries
  2. Jointers, planers, shapers, and sanders: 10,930 annual injuries
  3. Miter Saw: 6800 annual injuries
  4. Band Saw: 3550 annual injuries
  5. Radial Arm Saw: 350 annual injuries

Now obviously these numbers are a bit skewed by which tools people use the most often. For example, the radial arm saw isn’t very popular anymore as people are using table saws with sleds for many of the same purposes.

Whenever I get a new tool, I like to do a bit of reading about common injuries and tips for staying safe. One thing I learned with this new sliding miter saw is that after making the cut, you should let the blade stop spinning before lifting it out of the wood. Otherwise you run the risk the cutoff piece catching the blade and flying around the room. It can also give you a cleaner cut since the spinning teeth only touch the wood once.

It’s also important to keep the wood clamped down when possible. When the blade in a miter saw goes through the wood, it pulls up on the back side. It’s not uncommon for it to catch on the wood and rip it up in the air. If the wood isn’t firmly held in place, this can be pretty bad news.

As someone who makes money with his fingers, these kinds of tips are extra important!