Essential Woodturning Safety Gear and Supplies
Posted on November 11 2021
For any woodturner, one of the most important skills to have is knowing how to protect themselves from harm while working. Due to the nature of the work, whether it’s creating fine wood dust or a lathe spinning at 1,500 RPMs, many woodturners expose themselves to multiple avenues of injury. The good thing is that there are numerous ways for turners to protect themselves, avoid these threats, and turn their wooden blocks in peace.
Be aware of the essential woodturning safety gear and supplies to afford yourself the safest and most productive environment. Neglecting any of these woodturning tools and equipment can leave you vulnerable to bodily injury and long-term health issues. Protect yourself now so you don’t have to deal with any medical emergencies later down the road.
Whenever you bring your chisel or gouge to your wood piece and start shaving off stock, you always run the risk of creating splinters and small projectiles. These can fling in all different directions, making their trajectory completely random. But, with how close turners need to be to their work, these splinters often shoot themselves into the eyes and faces of woodturners.
Luckily, there are transparent shields that cover the entire face, allowing the turner to see their work. Always have a full-face shield on hand before you start turning; it will prevent splinters from lodging into your face as you cut away stock. Some turners often opt for protective eyewear, but this only safeguards the eyes, neglecting the whole rest of the face.
Larger splinters are not the only hazards that fly off from your turning wooden piece; you also need to contend with fine wood dust that results from the more intricate detail work. These small dust shavings can and will enter the lungs. Initially, it may just be the occasional coughing fit, but long-term exposure to inhaling particulate matter will lead to severe respiratory problems.
Turners often turn to filtration masks that cycle out the harmful particles in the air; this is the safest solution as long as you remember to regularly clean and replace the filters. Forgetting to replace the filters will be as good as not wearing the respirator at all, allowing fine dust to enter the lungs with little resistance.
Make Sure Face Masks Offer Particle Filtration
Aside from respirators, many turners find it more comfortable to wear simple face masks, but you must be particular in your selection of masks. Not all face masks protect against particulate matter; it will say on the packaging if the mask is up to your needs. Never assume that any mask you pick up will protect you; invest in specialized masks that guarantee safety from dust and other airborne debris.
For turners with long hair, it’s essential to tie it back and keep it out of the way. The lathe does not discriminate when it comes to turning, and whether it’s a wooden block or a rogue lock of hair, it will spin it.
The severity of the injury can vary wildly, but in the absolute worst cases, it can lead to death. Always assume that a random strand of hair will prove fatal if the lathe gets a grip on it. Either keep your hair short or tie it back and out of the way.
Between the sound of the lathe and the dust collectors, a woodturning studio can be an excessively loud environment. Because of the noise, you need to take special care to protect your hearing from damage. The more loud noises you expose your ears to, the greater the deterioration will be to your hearing ability. Because of the frequency that turners need to be around these loud noises, they need to invest in hearing protection to muffle extreme sounds.
Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones are a popular choice, but you need to make sure whatever you use does not have any dangling pieces. Headphones often come with wires, and the spinning of the lathe can easily grip the dangling wire and pull it in. Always be cognizant of the materials hanging from your face; headphones meant to protect your ears can end up causing more damage due to tangling with the lathe.
What Not To Wear
Besides the critical woodturning safety gear you need, there’s also an assortment of clothing and gear that you shouldn’t wear. For a variety of reasons, these can increase the chances of danger and create situations exposing you to great bodily harm. Know what they are, and always remember to take the necessary steps before turning to remove them from your person.
One of the biggest dangers to a turner, like dangling headphone cables, is loose clothing catching on the lathe as it spins. In the worst-case scenarios, the clothing will pull your arm into the lathe as it spins hundreds of times a minute. You don’t want to find out what happens to a human arm after a lathe starts turning it.
The fabric of the gloves, just like clothing, can catch on the wooden surface of the spinning piece and will have similar results to loose clothing. Your hands are right in the middle of the action, which makes it that much easier for gloves to catch on something. While it may seem like a necessary safety measure against splinters, gloves may prove more troublesome than they’re worth.
Another potential object that can catch on the wood, rings must be removed by turners before working on any pieces.
Make Safety a Habit
Safety needs to be every turner’s top priority; it keeps them out of harm’s way and prevents easily avoidable accidents. Take the necessary measures before every turning session, whether that’s removing rings, tying back hair, securing respirators, or putting on a face shield. Ensure your personal safety and bodily health, and always acknowledge the dangers of turning; even a momentary slip-up can result in severe consequences that may need immediate medical attention.