Injuries from improper use of machines and tools can be severe. So it is important to thoroughly consider potential hazards associated with every machine or tool and to act to eliminate or minimize those hazards before doing a job. Often this simply means thinking through how the job is to be done. Check a machine or tool before using it. If tool or machine is damaged, remove it from service and report it to your supervisor. If you are ever unsure about the safe use of a tool or machine, ask your supervisor for advice.



Take the following precautions whenever working with tools:

  • Thoroughly check every machine or tool before using it to ensure it is in good operating condition.
  • Take the time necessary to perform a job safely -- never hurry a job.
  • Never leave a machine running unattended.
  • Maintain unobstructed and clean passageways through the work area.
  • Regularly sweep or vacuum the floor. Accumulation of sawdust, wood shavings and other waste can make floors extremely slick.
  • When feeding stock through machines such as table saws, jointers, or wood shapers, stand to one side, never directly in line with the stock being fed. Kick-back injuries can be severe.
  • Repair or replace dull or worn tools. They can be dangerous.
  • Make sure tool guards are in place and are working properly before using a power tool.
  • Wear safety goggles when chipping or doing other work that may cause particles to fly.
  • Report all injuries to your supervisor immediately.
  • Use a tool or machine only for its intended purpose.
  • Do not use excessive force or pressure when using a tool.
  • Store tools properly -- do not leave them lying around.
  • Do not carry tools in your pockets -- use a kit or tool belt. Sheath pointed or edged tools.
  • Horseplay, practical jokes and the like are not acceptable in CUA shops and are grounds for disciplinary action.



Hand tools are non-powered and include many things from axes to wrenches. In most cases the danger posed by hand tools results either from misuse or improper maintenance. General safe practices with hand tools are listed below.



  • Use the proper size wrench for the job; metric-sized and English-sized wrenches are not interchangeable.
  • It is generally safer to pull a wrench than push it; but if you have to push, use your open palm as this decreases the chance of injury to fingers.
  • When wrench work is above your head, reduce the chance of head injury by standing to one side as you pull on the wrench.
  • When using an adjustable wrench, exert pressure toward the moveable jaw.
  • Never substitute pliers for a job that calls for a wrench.



  • Use a machinist's hammer for machine work and a claw hammer for carpentry work.
  • Check that people and objects are not in the path of your swing.
  • Do not use hammers, mallets, axes, etc. with split handles or loose heads.


Screwdrivers and Chisels

  • Use screwdrivers with insulated handles when working near electrical equipment.
  • Do not substitute flat head and Phillips head screwdrivers for each other.
  • Do not use undersized screwdrivers to turn large screws.
  • Do not substitute a screwdriver for a chisel or use it as a pry.
  • Holding a job in your hand is dangerous. If the screwdriver slips, it could cause a serious puncture wound.
  • Dress mushroom heads on chisels, punches, etc., properly prior to use.
  • Do not use chisels for prying or wedging.
  • Always drive wood chisels away from the body.



  • Keep saws free of rust and wood resin. A clean saw is less likely to bind or jump a cut.
  • Make the initial cut of a wood saw or hacksaw by drawing the blade backwards.
  • Do not use a rip saw for crosscutting, nor vice versa.
  • Secure the material before sawing.



  • Equip all files with handles.
  • Secure the material before filing.
  • Do not use a file for prying; they break very easily.



  • Wear ANSI-approved eye protection (safety glasses with side protection or goggles) whenever in a shop area or when working with power tools outside the shop.
  • Inspect machines regularly for safe operation and cleanliness.
  • Whenever possible, ground all power tools. For grounded tools, check for a functional electric ground before using the tool.
  • Have a power shut-off switch within easy reach of the operator.
  • Allow the machine to perform the work -- it can be very dangerous to use excessive pressure or force to speed the operation of a power tool.
  • Shut-down a machine before adjusting, cleaning, lubricating, repairing, etc. Use Lockout/Tagout procedures (See section 11.8).
  • Do not remove or make ineffective any machine safeguards, such as drive belt covers.
  • Keep transparent guards clean and replace them when cracked or otherwise broken.
  • Use a brush or air pressure to remove chips, dust, shavings or other such materials from stock.
  • Keep fingers clear of a machine's point-of-operation by using appropriate devices such as push bars.
  • Proper clothing and caution are important when working with revolving machines, since revolving shafts can easily snag loose clothing, gloves, hair, jewelry or cleaning rags. Roll shirt sleeves above the elbow, do not wear neckties and jewelry, and confine long hair under a hat.
  • Allow a machine to stop fully before making any adjustment or repair.
  • Check for the location of concealed electrical, water and similar utility lines prior to drilling or cutting into walls.
  • Do not operate power tools when standing on wet surfaces.
  • Keep power cords clear of the work area.


Circular Table Saws

  • With the motor off, adjust the height of the blade to extend 1/8 to 1/4 inch above stock.
  • Always use splitter and anti-kickback fingers when ripping.
  • Hold the stock firmly against a miter gauge or saw fence.
  • Always use a push stick when ripping narrow stock.
  • Move the rip fence out of the way when cross-cutting.
  • Do not use the rip fence as a cut-off gage when cross-cutting.
  • Never reach behind a saw blade to pull stock through.
  • Never saw "freehand", always use a ripping fence or miter gage, as appropriate.
  • Do not use a ripsaw for crosscutting, nor a crosscut saw ripping.
  • Use a roller stand or other table extension device to support work when cutting long stock.


Radial Arm Saws

  • Before energizing the motor, adjust the saw to an appropriate depth of cut that is not too deep into the table.
  • Set-up the saw so the cutting head will return gently to the back of the table when released.
  • Allow the blade to reach full operating speed before starting a cut.
  • When cross-cutting, be sure that stock lies flat on the saw table with the back edge of the stock firmly against the fence.
  • Hold stock firmly against the table guide strip.
  • Use a push stick when ripping, cutting grooves, or cutting rabbets.
  • When ripping, feed the stock from the end opposite the anti-kickback guard.
  • Never attempt to rip stock without getting a straight edge on the stock.
  • Use a roller stand or other table extension device to support work when cutting long stock.


Band Saws

  • Before using a band saw, rotate the handwheel by hand to show that the blade tracks properly within guide channels.
  • Check that the saw blade clears the upper guide by 1/4 inch.
  • Keep the blade guard in place and keep both upper and lower housing doors closed during operation.
  • Feed stock into the saw blade slowly but firmly. Use a push stick or guide for cuts near the blade.
  • Make curved cuts gradually; use relief cuts when possible.
  • Never use excessive force to speed cutting.
  • Do not back out of a cut; it may pull the blade off a wheel.
  • Do not attempt to saw stock that is not held flat on a table or positioned in a safe jig.
  • If a "clicking" noise develops while sawing, stop the machine immediately. Noise may indicate the saw blade has cracked and is liable to break.
  • If a blade breaks, step back and shut off the power. Do not touch the blade until both wheels have stopped.


Jig, Saber, and Scroll Saws

  • Securely clamp stock to be cut on a saber saw.
  • Check that the teeth of a scroll saw point down. Also check for adequate blade tension.
  • Before energizing the motor, adjust the hold-down device of a scroll saw so that it barely clears stock.
  • Allow the blade of the saw to reach full operating speed before starting the cut.
  • Handle the stock being cut with a scroll saw with both hands.
  • Keep fingers and clothing well away from the saw line. Never reach underneath stock when sawing.



  • Check that the guard has sufficient tension to cover the part of the cutter head not covered by stock.
  • Do not use a jointer with dull knives.
  • Do not attempt to joint stock that has knots, nails, etc.
  • Do not use a jointer to plane stock shorter than 10", narrower than 2", or thinner than 3/8".
  • With power off, check that blades are flush with the out-feed table and securely fastened in the cutter head.
  • Feed stock into a jointer "with the grain".
  • Keep a firm grip on stock to prevent kickback. Position your body to the side of the machine; never stand to the front (feed side) of the table.
  • Do not allow fingers to drag behind or along edges of stock.
  • Do not use a jointer to plane the grain-end of stock that is narrower than 12".


Drill Presses

  • When drilling or tapping material, securely clamp the stock to prevent spinning or climbing the drill. In no case rely solely on your hands to secure the stock.
  • If stock should slip from the table clamp, turn off the drill. Do not attempt to slow it with your hands.
  • Tighten the chuck of the drill and remove the key before energizing the machine. Never leave the key in the chuck.
  • Do not use dull bits.
  • Run the drill at speeds appropriate to the work. Feeding a bit too fast can break the bit and cause serious injury.


Abrasive Wheels

  • Always wear face shields when using grinding wheels.
  • Equip grinding wheels with tool rests to hold the stock stable. Adjust the tool rest close to the wheel, with a maximum gap of 1/8 inch.
  • Use cover guards on the abrasive wheels. Keep the cover guards clean so that the work is visible.
  • Check abrasive wheels for defects before use. Replace wheels that are cracked, out of balance, or otherwise broken.
  • Securely mount pedestal and bench grinders to the floor or bench top as appropriate.
  • Never operate a grinder at a speed that exceeds the maximum rpm rating of the abrasive wheel.
  • Do not use the side of an abrasive wheel for grinding, unless it is a special wheel designed for that purpose.



  • Adjust tool-rest to conform to stock prior to energizing the lathe.
  • Securely clamp tailstock, toolholder, and stock prior to energizing lathe motor.
  • Never leave a chuck wrench in a chuck.
  • Do not attempt to screw a chuck onto the spindle with the motor turning; it may easily become cross-threaded or otherwise cause injury. Instead, stop the machine, place a board under the chuck, then hand screw the chuck onto the spindle.
  • When filing stock on a lathe, file with the right hand over the lathe while facing the head stock. If left-handed, reverse the rotation of lathe spindle and file from the "back" side of lathe.
  • Hold the tool firmly in both hands. Keep your hands a good distance away from the chuck rim when the lathe is turning.
  • Use a lathe at slow speed for initial, rough turning; increase the speed as work smooths out.
  • When possible, use a pipe sleeve to cover stock protruding from end of lathe.
  • Stop the lathe to measure or caliper stock.
  • Remove the tool bit before removing stock from lathe.


Portable Belt Sanders

  • Check for adequate lubrication before using.
  • Disconnect the sander from the power outlet when changing the abrasive belt, making adjustments, maintaining it, or when it is not in use.
  • Hold sander off stock when energizing or de-energizing the motor.
  • Lay the belt sander on its side when it is not in immediate use.


Portable Routers

  • Before plugging in your router, check that the bit is inserted at least _ inch into the chuck. Turn it by hand to establish that it clears the router base.
  • Do not use a dull blade; disconnect from power outlet and replace with sharp blade.
  • Disconnect the router from the power outlet when changing bits, making adjustments, doing maintenance or when the router is not in use.
  • Maintain a firm grip on the router when energizing it to overcome start-up torque.
  • Keep the router base flat on the stock.
  • Feed from left to right when cutting straight edges; feed counter-clockwise when cutting curved edges.
  • Keep the motor clean and the intake/exhaust vents free of shavings and dirt.


Portable Circular Saws

  • Disconnect the power outlet when changing blades, making adjustments, doing maintenance, or when the saw is not in use.
  • Do not use a dull blade; disconnect the saw from the power outlet, and replace the blade with a sharp one.
  • Use a blade that is appropriate for the job.
  • Use a guide when rip cutting.
  • Allow the blade to reach full speed before starting a cut.
  • If you must retract the lower blade guard, use the retracting lever.
  • Never tie back the lower blade