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General Safety Notice
Chemical Safety Warning
Wood Toxicity Warning
California Proposition 65 Warning
If you can read this, then I can safely assume that you possess a certain degree of general intelligence, thus I will inform you that YOU are your number one most effective accident prevention / workplace safety device in your workshop. Safety in the workshop is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY alone; I can't be there to stop you from making a dangerous cut, so you'll have to find someone else to help you learn to work safely. I make every reasonable effort to advocate and illustrate safe woodworking practices wherever possible, but there are always exceptions. In order to adequately illustrate a procedure, some photographic license may be required to get a clear photograph, such as removing certain guards on machinery or adopting a normally unsafe stance while using a tool. Also, techniques that are safe for any particular tool or individual may not be for others, since the design and condition of tools and machinery varies and the skill level and experience of each woodworker varies. I can't possibly include every single detail of how to do everything safely, so any instructions I include on this site assume that you've read all product labels and user's manuals before attempting to follow those instructions.
No representation or warranty of safety.
I make no warranty, express or implied, as to the safety of any technique or tool shown or described on this site. Remember that if a tool is designed to cut a tough material like wood efficiently, it can also cut through flesh and bone like a chainsaw through tissue paper. Thus, your safety in the woodshop is your own responsibility and no one else's. You should always be familiar with all procedures and safety information listed in the owner's manual for each tool you use, you should always use personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses, and you should always learn to use any tool or technique I describe on this site under the supervision of a trained professional before attempting it on your own. If you are ever in doubt about the correct or safest way to accomplish anything in your shop, stop and consult a professional woodworking teacher, such as an instructor at a local high school or community college. I am specifically NOT advising you to consult a non-teaching professional woodworker, since, in my own experience, woodworking teachers tend to be far more safety conscious than many pros.
Use your own common sense, and seek trained help / guidance to safely perform all woodworking-related tasks.
Always remember to make a safety check before starting up any power tool or machine, and ensure that there will always be no fewer than three redundant safety systems between you and the cutter. (Click this link for more about this.) Examples of "safety systems" include: push sticks, cutterhead guards, hold-downs or clamps, featherboards, hand clearance / no-go zone, anti-kickback devices such as auxiliary support fences and various other accident prevention devices. Nearly all woodshop accidents occur as a result of disabling or simply not using redundant safety devices or techniques, thus, when something starts to go a little bit wrong, there's no backup in place to prevent a serious accident. Please note that anti-kickback features on the cutter itself, anti-kickback pawls, flesh sensing blade braking technology, emergency-release or slip clutches, emergency stop buttons, and deadman switches serve only in helping to limit the damage once an accident occurs; they do not serve to prevent the accident in the first place.
Use all proper safety gear and personal protection equipment.
Finally, be aware of the "other" woodshop hazards, such as sharp objects, heavy or unstable objects, trip / slip hazards, distractions or being startled while using machinery, caustic chemicals, fumes, explosive vapors, toxic or allergic reactions to wood dust, potential for hearing loss due to high noise levels, and so on. The woodshop can never be an absolutely safe place, but by exercising caution, educating yourself about the dangers, and using appropriate safety gear and safe practices, you can make it a safer place to be than many highways.
For further important safety-related information, read the safety notices below, and check out the Woodshop Safety page in the Techniques Department.
Please review the General Safety Disclaimer. Always wear gloves and other protective equipment designed to resist the chemical(s) being handled. Wear safety goggles designed for protection from spattered chemicals (these have covered vents). Chemicals should always be mixed in clean, non-porous containers, such as laboratory-style glass beakers. Never mix two chemicals without prior knowledge of any potential reactions between them. Always store chemicals in clearly marked containers, and keep them out of the reach of children. When mixing chemicals with water, always add the chemical to the water, never the other way around. Beware that many chemicals emit dangerous fumes or explosive vapors, or may do so when mixed with another chemical. Also, many chemical reactions release large amounts of heat, potentially leading to boil-overs, splashing, or fire. It is strongly recommended to do further research into the nature of a particular chemical prior to using or handling it.
Most woods are or have been known to cause toxic or allergic reactions in some individuals. You should always protect yourself against, and minimize exposure to, wood shavings and dust, as well as fruits, leaves, bark, and sap. Protective equipment includes, but is not limited to, the following: socks and high-top shoes or boots, long pants that extend to below the tops of the shoes, a long sleeved shirt, (roll up sleeves before using machinery!); a hat, a mask or respirator with one micron or finer filtration (NOT a niusance dust mask!!), primary dust collection (from the tool via a vacuum or dust collector), and secondary dust collection (air filtration units). Gloves can also be used to limit exposure about the hands, but must be removed when using many tools, as they may become tangled in moving parts, cutterheads, etc. If you experience itching, rash, dizziness, nausea, sneezing, loss of vision, or difficulty breathing, you should stop working with wood or chemicals immediately and contact a physician. See the Wood Toxicity page for further information.
While this website does not, in and of itself, contain any chemicals, it does illustrate and discuss the use of chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Wash hands immediately after use. Contact a physician immediately if swallowed; do not induce vomiting.
Except where noted, all material on this site, including any designs, images or other content contained thereon are the sole intellectual property of David J. Tilson and are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. All rights not explicity waived are reserved. No portion of these pages may be copied or reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the author, except as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.