Safety is Job One
Woodturning is not a particularly dangerous activity if good technique and attention to basic safety rules are practiced. Nevertheless anytime you work with tools, powerful machines, and various finishes and chemicals there is always the possibility of hurting yourself or someone nearby. This page will attempt to provide safety tips, incident reports and links to various safety resources. This is not an extensive list and each person must work within his limits of knowledge and skills.
WOOD TURNING SAFETY RULES
1. Know Your Equipment and Yourself: Never operate a lathe or use a cutting tool, chuck or other accessory without first understanding its operation and limitations. Read and know the instruction manual of any lathe that you use. Never perform a procedure or technique that you are unclear about or uncomfortable with. If you are in doubt, stop and ask for instruction. Know your personal limitations.
2. Police Your Environment. Keep your work area clean. Store tools safely. Don’t allow cords to run across circulation ways. Don’t start your lathe if people are in harm’s way. Ensure that there is adequate light and ventilation. If you are observing someone else, don’t place yourself in harm’s way.
3. Keep Yourself Catch Free. Long hair must be tied back. No clothing, gloves, jewelry or watches may be worn below the elbow. Necklaces and loose clothing that could be caught by spinning parts must not be worn.
4. Inspect Your Lathe. Inspect the lathe for damaged or missing parts before operating it. Before you start, check to ensure that the speed is appropriate, the drive belt is tight, all locking devices are secure and all chuck keys and adjusting wenches are removed.
a. Always spin the wood at least one full turn before turning the lathe on every time.
b. Always stand to the side when starting up a lathe.
c. Always unplug the power supply before adjusting the belts or touching parts that spin.
d. Never leave a spinning lathe unattended.
5. Wear Safety Equipment. To operate a lathe or stand near an operating lathe, you must wear eye protection; full face protection when turning bowls. Dust masks are highly recommended.
6. Secure the Wood. Ensure that the wood is securely held. Turn between centers whenever possibleand always with imbalanced pieces. Use a slow speed when first roughing out a piece. Never usewood that is cracked or has other serious defects or significant protrusions.
7. Practice Safe Techniques.
a. Keep your tools sharp. Don’t force a tool or use it for an unintended purpose. Reposition the tool rest frequently to keep it close to the work.
b. Keep your balance and don’t overreach.
c. Always turn the lathe off and allow it to come to a complete stop before adjusting the toolrest.
d. Always keep your hands behind the plane of the tool rest. Always keep the tool firmlyagainst the tool rest. Always hold the tool firmly with both hands.
e. When using a shear cut, rub the bevel. When using a scraping cut, always keep the anglebetween the wood and cutting edge at less than 90 degrees.
f. When finishing, always remove the tool rest. Use only paper towels, never woven fabric. On exterior surfaces, apply the towel to the underside of the piece with the wood spinning counterclockwise. On interior surfaces, apply the towel in the lower left-hand quadrant also with the wood spinning counterclockwise.
8. Focus on Your Work. You may not operate a lathe if you have drunk alcohol or taken medication that carries an equipment operations warning. Don’t operate a lathe if you are tired or emotionally upset.
AAW Safety Page
The following articles and videos are worth reviewing.
Always use a face shield
Beware of hidden defects Face shield saved the day.
Long hair must be tied back
One woodturner's tale of accident and recovery