Safety Reminders for Woodturners
The lathe can be a very safe tool if you are attentive mainly
because, unlike most other power woodworking tools, the lathe does not have a moving
cutting blade. Rather, the wood moves and you can control its speed. However, you can get
some nasty injuries in the form of contusions (bruises), jammed fingers and other things
if you are not careful. The following checklist of woodturning safety precautions should
be followed to ensure that you minimize your chance for injury.
- Always check the lathe speed before turning it on. If in doubt start
at a low speed and work up until you are comfortable and the lathe does not vibrate or
walk across the room.
- Be sure your tools are sharp. The first thing you tend to do when the
tool is not cutting well is to push harder, and that is when you make a mistake.
- When you turn the lathe on for the first time with a new piece of
wood on it, be sure that you are not in the fly path.
- Once mounted, turn the blank by hand at least two revolutions to be
sure that it does not hit anything. Repeat this process every time you adjust the
- Be sure a faceplate is screwed on all the way before turning the
lathe on. Otherwise, it will screw itself on very, very, very tight.
- Be sure that the blank is securely mounted and that a faceplate is
flush on the stock.
- Retighten the tailstock often, especially during the roughing
- Adjust the tool/hand rest often during roughing.
- Rub the bevel.
- Always use the tailstock when possible even on faceplate work secured
by screws. The roughing process can loosen screws.
- Use eye and/or face protection.
- Use dust protection when sanding.
- Be sure that you are not allergic to woods (especially some exotics)
before you work with them a lot.
- Do not wear loose clothing.
- Use good lighting.
- Ensure that you have no distractions, especially sudden ones like
your spouse yelling at you.
- Turn the lathe off when you walk away from it.
- Stop the lathe and check everything out if something does not seem
right to you strange sounds, vibration, wobble, smell etc.
- Sand in the lower quadrant near you so that sandpaper is "pulled
away" from you. Sanding on the opposite side of the piece subjects your fingers to