Wood Workshop - Induction #3 - Hand-held Power Tools

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  • Always keep power tools unplugged when not in use for any period of time - do not leave cable trailing - wrap up neatly and put your tool in a well!
  • If you need to do any work to a tool - for example changing a bit/blade, or clearing any material which is jamming something, or even just putting your hand within 6 inches of the blade- make sure the tool in unplugged
  • With all power tools, never start the tool in contact with the wood you are working.

Drills and Drivers


  • The space has battery-powered drills, with variable torque limiter and a keyless chuck
  • Using the correct bit and torque setting for your material will allow you to drill a hole quickly and easily
  • Adjust the torque limit by twisting the numbered section of the drill nose
  • Lower number means the motor bit is easier to stop. Use for soft materials.
  • Higher number or the drill setting means the drill will give all it’s got. Suitable for larger holes, and harder materials - including metal and masonry.
  • The gear selector on top allows you to switch between slow/powerful and fast/weaker speeds.
  • The keyless chuck allows you to twist the tip of the nose to firmly grip or release the bit

On left: Driver (notice the lack of torque control), on right: Drill


  • The space has a battery-powered impact driver - it looks very like the drill, but is a bit smaller and has no chuck…
  • Has lower speed but much higher torque than the drill
  • Won’t drill holes, but is ideal for driving screws or bolts
  • “Impact driver” - meaning it uses a flyweight which frequently spins to drag the bit round - as the resistance becomes higher, this generates a more jerky motion with extremely high torque - this results in a loud clicking sound, similar to a screw-head being stripped
  • Beware - this very high torque could do your wrist serious damage if you don’t control it properly
  • The screw driver bits will wear out - meaning they don’t grip your screw head properly, and will strip them more easily. Take note of what bit it is, inform the woodtechs, and throw the bit away - it is useless.

Electric screwdriver

  • Small, non-percussive version of the driver
  • Useful for screwing or unscrewing small and medium screws
  • Not very powerful!

Different bits for different materials:

  • HSS (high-speed steel) bits
  • Conical tip
  • Suitable for all woods, MDF, metals and plastics
  • Wood bits
  • Similar shape to a HSS bit, but have a central tip
  • Used in wood only - not MDF

  • Spade bits
  • Flat bit, with two cutting tips and a central tip
  • Good for wider holes
  • Used in wood only - not MDF

  • Forstner bit
  • Large circular bit with teeth around most of its cylindrical end and two radial arms
  • Good for drilling wider holes
  • Used in wood only - not MDF

  • Auger bit
  • Looks similar to a HSS bit, with a small screw thread on the end
  • Digs extremely fast and deep - be careful!
  • Particularly useful in a brace and bit

  • Hole cutter
  • Entirely cylindrical bit with teeth all the way around the end
  • Used for very large holes

  • Masonry bit
  • Looks similar to a HSS bit, but has two large tips made of Tungsten carbide
  • Do not use in metal!

How to use:

  • Make sure your bit is firmly tightened in the chuck by hand
  • Make sure your material is firmly held in place
  • Ensure you are holding the drill or driver straight - perpendicular to your material
  • Hold the handle firmly, and close into your ribs/chest/shoulder (depending on where drilling)
  • When drilling there is a risk that if you put too much pressure on the bit, it will break - this may mean splinters of flying drill bit, and leave a dangerous sharp end sticking out of the material and the drill!

Tools Requiring Dust Extraction
The below tools must always be used with dust extraction. We have two M-Class dust extractors and these must always be used with the below tools.
Before use, make sure the Trend Vacuum Bag isn’t over full and the Festool container is less than 3/4 full. If either are full, empty them before use. Please take the time to empty the container/bag if they’re full, other members will appreciate it and will prolong the life of our tools.

  1. To set up the dust extraction, the machine must be connected to a power source above the bench you are using. DO NOT run cables across the floor as this poses a tripping hazard.
  2. Plug the power for the power tool into the dust extractor takeoff.
  3. Plug the extraction hose into the tool you’re using.
  4. Set both the Festool and the Trend extractors to “auto”, this will ensure they turn on when the powertool is turned on.
  5. Enjoy dust free usage.


  • Before you use a sander - check the dust bag, and empty it if necessary

Orbital sander

  • The least dangerous power tool in the space!
  • Make sure the sandpaper is correctly clipped to the sander foot.
  • When changing the sandpaper, use the piece you are removing to help you measure the new piece you are going to tear.
  • Never use a blade to cut sandpaper - you will ruin the blade!
  • Measure the amount of sandpaper you need, and fold it firmly both ways - you should then be able to tear it easily
  • The orbital sander has a plastic face plate, which pierces the sandpaper in the correctly places for the extraction system. Make sure you use it to make the holes in a new piece of sandpaper!

Belt sander

  • Fast and dangerous!
  • Spins a roll of sandpaper quickly between two cylinders, separated by a flat metal foot
  • If you let go of it whilst it’s running, it will drive off across the room! Could cause serious damage and injury
  • Equally, make sure your material is firmly clamped before beginning
  • How to use
  • Make sure the sander is running before you touch it to the material
  • Keep the foot flat on the material, and keep the sander moving - don’t put much downward pressure on it at all - it isn’t necessary.
  • How to replace the belt
  • Unclip the band, remove it and dispose of
  • Put a new band in place, and use the small side wheel to make sure it is perfectly straight - otherwise the belt will either run off the sander, or into the mechanism!

Electric Planer

  • Similar to a hand plane - but rather than have a fixed blade which you move over the material, there is a spinning cylinder holding a blade
  • The cylinder can be raised or lowered to cut more or less material - there is a twistable handle with 0.25 millimetre stops
  • Use in the same way as a hand plane - but less force will be required - push forward steadily, but not downwards. Keep it flat, place the toe on the material but not the blade, power it up and then move across the material.
  • The blade continues spinning for some seconds after the power is killed - do not let it come into contact with any unintended surfaces - or any part of your body!
  • Remember to attach the waste bag before using.


  • As with a hand saw, there are many different blades - usually the blade type/suitable materials are printed on the blade itself
  • You can use a jigsaw to cut either straight or curved lines
  • Look at the depth of metal blade from the teeth to the long flat edge
  • The deeper the blade, the better the jigsaw is at straight lines - it won’t turn well
  • The narrower the blade, the better the jigsaw is as following curves - but don’t try to turn too much or you’ll break the blade
  • Make sure the blade length is appropriate for your work - the piece you are cutting will have to be thinner than the length of exposed blade when it is at it’s shortest.
  • Most blades cut on the upstroke, meaning that it is the top of the surface which is likely to be slightly damaged and left with scruffy edges. Accordingly, you should put your material face down if the finish is important to you!
  • Has a “pendulum motion” - meaning the blade swings slightly back on the downstroke, and forwards on the up stroke. This enables the cut material to be cleared more easily, so you can cut more quickly in thick material - but it will give a rougher finish. You can’t do tight curves with pendulum motion on.
  • Ensure your material is supported at both sides, and won’t bend or fall as you cut - this would mean the material “gripped” the blade, and could damage the tool, the material, or you!
  • With the tool unplugged, pull the blade to its lowest point - the distance from the flat metal foot to the tip of the blade is the thickest material you can cut - but realistically you should make sure there is 1 centimetre or so of blade beneath your material at all times
  • Need to cut a section from the centre of a piece of material? Remember that you can drill a pilot hole a little wider than the blade, then insert the jigsaw into it to start cutting a larger shape

Changing the blade:

  • Turn the jigsaw upside down
  • Where the blade meets the body of the tool, there is a small lever which allows you to pull the blade free
  • To insert the new blade, pull the lever again, and slide the new blade in place. Make sure the blade is in the groove on the metal guide wheels
  • Make sure the teeth are pointing forwards, not backwards

How to use:

  • Mark your cut line
  • If trying to do a long straight cut, make sure you have set up a solid “fence” which you can keep the jigsaw pressed against as you cut
  • Place the flat forward edge of the jigsaw guide on your material - don’t touch the blade to the material
  • Place your feet firmly
  • Check there is never anything under the path of the blade which you might damage - particularly body parts
  • Lean over the jigsaw so you can look down the blade and see where it’s cutting
  • Keep one handle on the top, holding the trigger -wrap your other hand around the front of the jigsaw body, to help you guide the blade
  • Power up the jigsaw and gently press the blade against the material - make sure you hit your mark!
  • Press firmly forward, but not too hard - if the tool is struggling, you are pushing too hard.
  • Slow down as you come to a corner or curve!
  • To remove the blade mid-cut, release the power and wait for the blade to stop completely before removing from the material

Air Compressor

  • In the woodshop, we have two uses for compressed air: cleaning and nailing - the risks and health and safety considerations are similar for both:
  • Injury due to high pressure air either externally(damaging eyes/ears/nose/etc.) or internally (injecting air into the body, perhaps after falling on the nozzle)
  • Particle damage to eyes or lungs - always use appropriate PPE - safety glasses, masks and ear defenders for all in the workshop


  • The Compressor is the big blue metal cylinder which lives on the floor under the tablesaw.
  • There are is one hose on a reel mounted over the table saw arm/behind the door and a second one above the workbenches. You should be able to reach most of the workshop with one or other of them.
  • Switch the compressor on using the black plug, in one of the normal 13A power sockets, by the first aid kit behind the door
  • The compressor makes a loud whirring noise when it is compressing air into the cylinder! Don’t be alarmed.
  • Once the whirring stops (after a couple of minutes), it’s at full pressure - unreel the hose, aim the nozzle and pull the trigger to release air
  • Demonstrate how to remove nozzle and attach the nail gun.


  • If you’ve created a lot of dust or small chips all over benches and equipment (eg. using lathe, router, lots of sanding), you may find the air compressor is a useful tool to clear everything down to floor level for sweeping up.
  • Try to blow dust down to the floor, not up into the air - start from a reasonable distance away from the surface, so that the jet isn’t too strong - you want to create a moderate breeze over the surface, not a hurricane!
  • DO NOT point the compressor at anyone’s face.
  • Be aware of what is around you - do not blow away small components of a project, do not blow over any containers and cause spillages, do not blow over anything that is leaning. Do not wrap the hose around anyone/trip them at/jog their arm, etc.
    *Wear a dust mask while cleaning with air.


  • The safety nozzle of the air gun needs to be fully pressed in against the wood you are nailing in order for it to fire.
  • Be aware that a nail can be deflected and emerge from the side of a piece of wood if it hits another nail, screw or, in hardwood, a knot. Be sure that your fingers are not in any potential trajectory.
  • The exhaust at the back of the gun can be rotated to direct it away from you - useful for left-handers.
  • The gun lives on the top shelf above the mitre saw and takes guage 18 brad nails from 10 - 50 mm.
  • Nails of various lengths are stored in a tupperware box at the left of the mitre saw.

After usage

  • Turn off power at the wall
  • Drain the air by holding down the trigger until no more air is expelled
  • Woodtechs drain the compressor at least once a week. If you use it frequently, ask a woodtech to show you how to drain it after use.