Safety and Health at the Wood Workshop via the International Labour Organisation:
Ask yourself: How will I do the work? Do I know enough to ensure I will not be hurt?
Health and Safety in the Woodworking Industy:
Why are we here?
- We all want to make things out of wood!
- Most people are probably capable of wielding a hand tool, or turning a power tool on and making it cut something. A little bit of knowledge is not enough to keep all of us and our equipment safe, so all members, no matter what their previous experience, are required to complete this induction before using any tools in the wood workshop.
- This induction process will show you how to use tools correctly and safely - that protects you, other people in the space, and the equipment - and will also improve the quality of what you make!
- Imagine the wood workshop as a professional building site - we aim to follow as many H&S laws and best practices as we an. If you are being wilfully negligent and cause damage or injury, you could be committing a crime - nobody wants this to happen. Equally, if you get injured (especially through your own actions), you are not covered by any Makerspace insurance. Use the space at your own risk.
- Feeling a bit negative all of a sudden? Remembers the first bullet - we all want to make things! Always feel free to ask questions and seek out help.
Health and Safety
Never use a tool you have not been inducted on
Been inducted, but can’t really remember? Never use a tool if you feel unsure - we all forget things. Ask for a reminder from a woodtech or experienced user.
In an emergency, dial 999, ask for an ambulance, and give the Makerspace full address:
Arch 1129, 41 Norwood Road, London. SE24 9AJ
- Don’t become a casualty! Be aware of dangers when approaching.
- Shout for help.
- Get the casualty sat on the floor as fast as possible.
- Compression - press cleanest material to hand onto a wound
- Don’t remove anything lodged in a wound - it could be plugging a damaged artery. Pack clean material around it - don’t push it in further.
- Raise the wound above the head and heart.
No Lone Working With Power Tools
- Only hand tools may be used when you are alone in the Makerspace
- No-one is permitted to use any powered tool if you are alone in the space - this is in case you injure yourself, and no one is around to help. You can be the only person in the workshop, but someone else must be inside the Makerspace arch at all times. The other person doesn’t need to be a member - so you can bring a friend to keep an eye on you!
Power Cut Buttons
The workshop has four emergency power buttons
- Push in any of them to kill all power except the lights
- Twist in the direction of the arrows until it pops out to restore power
- Not just for emergency use - last person to leave, push in the switch by the door!
- To get the power going, you may need to check a few switches to find the one that needs releasing
- If you see anyone doing/about to do something dangerous, then hit a switch to kill the power. It doesn’t matter whether they are more experienced than you - if you are concerned, kill the power and talk to them. The rule is, you never complain if someone kills your power - it’s because someone is concerned for the safety of you, someone else, or the equipment!
- If you are concerned about dangerous/aggressive/dismissive behaviour - tell a director or a woodtech - you’re doing everyone a favour.
- NEVER approach/touch/shout at someone who is already midway through a power-tool cut - it’s safer to kill the power then talk to them.
First Aid Kits
- There is a first aid kit inside the door to the workshop
- If you’ve used anything, flag it with [someone] and make sure it gets replenished.
Keep it under wraps
- Any long hair should be well tied back or covered
- If you have any loose or dangling clothing - eg. drawstrings on hoods - tuck them firmly inside, remove them, or remove the piece of clothing.
- Any lanyards, necklaces, loose bracelets, dangling jewelry, ties, bandanas or neckerchiefs should be removed.
- Don’t risk having anything on which could drag your body parts into a tool!
- If the power is on, you should hear the extraction system working - if not, tell the woodtechs.
- To turn the power on, twist the emergency power stop button nearest the door until it pops out.
Be clean and tidy
- Always aim to leave the space cleaner than you found it!
- Make sure the space is clean before you start, and after you finish - if someone leaves the space a state, and you don’t want to talk to them about it - inform the woodtechs
- There are brushes and pans by the door - and the yellow hoover can be used for sawdust.
- If you are creating a lot of sawdust with your work, don’t wait until the end of the job to clean - take a break and sweep up. One spark on a bed of dry sawdust could burn down the Makerspace!
- There is a green wheelie bin specifically marked for wood offcuts only . Anything in here is fair game, and you can use, or take for burning at home.
- There are normal bins for sawdust, other rubbish and waste.
- Use the air compressor to help tidy up after dusty jobs. Safe usage is covered in part 3 - hand-held power tools.
The workbench and its well
- The workbench has a “well” - the wide turquoise channel running down the middle. This is to make it hard for things to roll or drop off the bench:
- If it’s small and rolls, you don’t want to lose it
- If it’s sharp or heavy or valuable, you don’t want to damage it - or you - or someone else
- Always put tools and loose bits and pieces in the well!
- Give yourself enough space for the job, but don’t hog every surface to the detriment of other members. Do one thing at a time, or if you really need a lot of room - come during quieter hours, or ask on Discourse if people are planning to use the workshop at a particular time
Securing your workpiece
You shouldn’t use any hand-held tools on a piece of wood that isn’t securely held in place by one of the following methods:
Held onto a bench-hook by the pressure of your weight
Held in a bench vice
Remember you can put the end of a bench-hook in the vice!
Securely clamped to workbench
- Good for holding a small piece of wood you need to cut with a saw.
- The bench-hook is (eventually) disposable - it can be “sacrificial” - it doesn’t matter if you cut into.
- Never be cutting into the workbench itself!
- Bench vice
- Can apply 4 or 5 tons of pressure
- When turning the handle, remember - leftie-loosy, righty-tighty!
- Push the small metal lever towards the centre of the vice to allow you to slide the vice in and out without lots of turning!
- Don’t over-tighten or under-tighten - your piece should be held firmly enough that you can’t wiggle it free when pulling hard, but you shouldn’t be straining to do it up or undo.
- Remember, if there is space below your piece and above the rails supporting the vice, then it could slip downwards if you are applying pressure from above with a tool - and unexpected movement is dangerous! To stop this happening, consider putting a piece of scrap wood in the empty space - then put the put the piece you are working with on top of that before tightening the vice.
- Come in all shapes and sizes
- “Sliding” plastic jawed ones are quicker and easier to attach and release, and won’t mark your wood - but they aren’t that strong.
- Some of our sliders have very long “arms” - you won’t often need much of that length for clamping. If possible, try to have the arms pointing downwards out of harm’s way, rather than upwards - where someone could lose an eye or get impaled. If you have to have an arm pointing into space, then make the end of it very visible to avoid accidents - think polystyrene cup, ball of paper, tinsel, sticking a warning sign to it, etc.
*Metal “C-clamps” are very strong, but take longer to tighten and release by twisting - and they will mark the surface of your wood. Make sure there is always a sacrificial offcut between the ends of the C-clamp (also called G-Clamp!) and your wood - preferably not too thick - 10-20mm is good.
- As with the bench vice, don’t over-tighten! Remember - you can always add more clamps…
- It’s often easier to have C-clamp screw thread pointing up, rather than down, so you can see what you’re doing when tightening!
- Bonus tip - near each bench vice is a wooden bar which can be tapped up from underneath using a wooden mallet - this pushes the other end of the bar above the workbench surface, which can be useful as a way to stop materials sliding off the workbench when planing!
PPE - Personal Protection Equipment
Masks are located in the red drawer
- Plastic goggles and glasses hang on a string outside the door.
- You should wear these when using any powered tool, with the possible exception of the sanders and planer.
- You can wear them any time you want to!
- There is a full face shield by the lathe if required.
- Ear defenders live next to the main door
- Where ear defenders any time the noise is painful to you, or when you know you will be making a loud noise for an extended period - eg. electric planing, jigsaw, any of the larger power tools.
- Don’t use where you do not need them though - you want to be able to hear what’s going on around you.
- Remember that hearing damage is cumulative
- If you have ringing ears/tinnitus after working in the workshop, then you needed ear defenders
- If the tool is making more noise than you expected - or a noise that sounds unpleasant rather than loud - maybe you’re using it wrong or it’s broken. Stop and ask for advice.
- Disposable masks can be found in the red metal drawer unit under the mitre saw at the far end of the workshop
- If you’re using one of the disposable masks, and you are happy to re-use it another time - then write your name in it!
- Don’t share masks
- If you need many, consider buying your own - they are cheap, and often stocked in decently sized supermarkets
- Masks should be worn when doing any quantity of sanding, or work that generate a lot of fine particles - especially with hardwood or MDF, as these can be toxic. Ask for advice if unsure.
- Try not to drop things!
- Don’t be a hero/martyr - if you drop something heavy or sharp, it’s better the tool get damaged than you - don’t try to catch with a foot.
- Wear sensible, comfortable shoes that cover the whole foot - no sandals or heels!
- Wear the sturdiest shoes you have - especially around the toes. Steel toe-caps are ideal.
- Gloves are a BAD thing in the wood workshop. The only exception to the rule is thin latex gloves which you might want to wear when you are applying glue / finishes or handling wood that irritates your skin.
- Gloves reduce your sensitivity to the material you are holding, and could get caught in a tool, dragging your hand into danger
- Consider barrier cream, and plasters on any cuts.
- You aren’t a real woodworker until you’ve acquired a few grazes in the workshop! Note that said “grazes” - “not “scars” or “prosthesis”.
Stop - it’s glue drying time! (by MC Claw-hammer)
- Sometimes you’ll need to leave a project clamped together whilst glue dries - the drying time should be on the container. Make sure you label your piece with your name, contact details, and the “expiry time” after which your piece will be dry - then other members will know when it’s safe to retrieve clamps they might need.
- Make sure it is not a hazard - no clamps sticking out in to walkways, not blocking fire exits, no sharp corners exposed etc.
- You should notify #admin:storage-requests if it’s particularly large.
- Make sure you can get back to your piece at the expiry time.
- If your project needs to be left in the space for any length of time whilst you aren’t there - remember you need to ask permission on Discourse BEFORE bringing you materials on site.
- Remember - if your project is damaged/thrown away/re-purposed because you didn’t label it or return it promptly - then that’s your fault!
- Equally - seen a nice bit of wood in the space that you’d like to use? Wondering if you can use it?
- Check if it has any labels on it
- Check if anyone has written their name on the wood in pencil
- Post a photo on Discourse and ask if it’s fair game