The most important part of a job in any workshop is safety.
So often I have seen people overestimating their skills and disregarding any safety standards, or in other cases using protective gear wrong resulting in health hazards and unsafe work conditions.
People seem to be uninformed about how to keep themselves safe while working with potentially dangerous tools such as circular saws.
Power Tool Safety Myths
When they hear about power saw related accidents, injured fingers come to the mind of most people. This is not without reason since almost a quarter of all injured woodworkers have been treated by a hand surgeon.
This leads many beginner woodworkers to make the amateur mistake of adding gloves in their protective gear while operating power saws.
This is the single most dangerous mistake you can make!
Gloves don’t offer any kind of protection against saw blade (not even so-called “cut-proof” gloves) and all they will accomplish is your hand being pulled into blade.
Another common mistake is wearing long sleeves or loose clothing. People simply feel more comfortable in it, but, similarly to the gloves, if your clothes get caught by the blade of power saw, it will pull you towards it
Power Tool Safety Gear
To deal with confusion about protective gear once and for all, I have come up with a list of essentials:
Eyes are the most vulnerable part of your body.
While today’s medicine can treat injuries in any other body part, accidents involving your eyes can easily lead to life-long disability. Although numerous in design, they all share the same properties; namely extremely hight durability towards flying derbies created by your power saw.
This is achieved by polycarbonate, material that is virtually indestructible while having half the weight of glass.
Endurance of this material is further proven by the fact it’s used in riot gear.
Keep in mind while buying, to search for protective glasses with in-built ventilation, otherwise, your sight might be obstructed due to frequent fogging of your eye-protective gear.
Dust mask or respirator
Not all injuries are physical. Dustsaw is unavoidable while using power saws. While it’s easy to avoid bigger particles with dust collectors, the real danger comes from fine dust, almost invisible with the naked eye.
The most common problem it creates is irritation. This includes reactions like itching, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, rashes, and breathing difficulties.
Prolong exposure can even lead to allergy-like reasons such as relentless sinus or respiratory inflammation. Long-term, it can cause serious and irreversible damage to your lungs.
A dust mask is a simple solution to this issue. Basically, it’s simply a piece of cloth with an elastic band. It’s a cheap fix, but not the best idea for people who want to dedicate more time to this hobby, or are working in enclosed areas; the best idea would be using respirators instead.
They will offer more layers of protection by filtering the air you are breathing.
Hearing damage is one of those that are not apparent immediately, but becomes severe with accumulation.
Our ears contain hair cells that are allowing us to detect sounds. The average person is born with 16 000 of these cells, and can hear perfectly up until 30 to 50% of them are damaged.
And what damages them? Loud noises (among other things).
Additional problem is that, when you notice you have hearing difficulties, your hair cells have already been damaged and there’s hardly anything that can be done.
That’s why using hearing protection is crucial. It comes in two forms: earplugs and earmuffs.
Earplugs offer better protection. In theory at least. They require proper fitting, otherwise, proper protection cannot be guaranteed. Also, they cannot be used by people who are suffering from ear infections.
Earmuffs, on the other hand, are much easier to use properly but offer less protection overall, which could be a problem for someone operating a power saw.
Footwear does not cross the mind of many people when it comes to power saw operation safety. However, it is more important than you think.
Safety boots you will be looking for need to be slippery resistant and have a toe cap. Later is not difficult to understand, while sawing, heavy objects can fall down on your foot (this includes saw itself). Former is, on the other hand, can be underestimated by many people, but trust me, you do not want to lose your balance while using power saws.
If you are operating a stationary machine, such as table saw or bandsaw, push stick is a brilliant way to keep yourself safe. The best thing about push stick, you can easily make it yourself out of wood and customize it to your own need, otherwise, there are plenty of plastic options in most hardware stores.
This simple tool will allow you better maneuverability and keep your fingers away from disc blade of your power saw
Often, people just want to get a job done as soon as possible, without thinking of possible consequences. I have laid down five must-have pieces of safety equipment for you.
However, the most important part of this safety puzzle is your brain.
If you want to avoid injury, you need to stay focused on the job, don’t get distracted and do not engage in conversations while operating power saw. Most importantly, keep in mind that a faster job does not mean a better job and don’t be ashamed to ask for professional help.
We can’t all be experts at everything.