Woodturning Safety – Basic Equipment You Should Have and Use

While woodturning is one of the safest activities in the home workshop, it still uses power tools and sharp implements. Safety precautions should be taken to make a safe activity even safer. There are a few pieces of safety equipment that woodturners should own and use.
A wood lathe spins wood at high speed while woodturners stand in front of it. While the wood is supposedly held firmly in place, accidents happen and the wood can fly off the lathe. Unseen cracks equipment maintenance template and defects in the wood may react to a catch with a tool or merely with the centrifugal force of the turning and fly toward the woodturner’s face. For this reason a face mask should be worn.
While a pair of safety goggles or glasses may protect the eyes, a full face mask does much better job of protection. Turning masks are available inexpensively from most woodturning suppliers. They will come in a variety of forms but most will have an adjustable head band which holds the mask at three points. Masks will be either clear plastic or polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a must for good protection.
Woodturning kicks up a lot of sawdust, especially during the sanding process. Much of this is fine and a danger to breathing. Even though wood is biodegradable, it stays in the lungs a long time and is a genuine health hazard. A dust mask should be worn during sanding and a good dust collector is a must. Some shops will use a separate dust collector for the extra fine dust that collects during sanding operations.
Most wood lathes are very quiet in operation but most woodturners use other power tools at various times and many of these are powered with very loud motors. Many bowl turners will be sanding a bowl with the lathe, dust collector and electric drill used as a sander all on at the same time. Hearing protection at these times is a must. Hearing loss in these situations can be cumulative and should be avoided.
While the finishes used by most turners are fairly benign, some may be fairly toxic when applied. A chemical vapour protection mask should be worn and the cartridges checked on a regular basis. Gloves should be worn when dealing with sewage treatment plant motor any suspect finish. Obviously the use of vegetable or mineral oil on kitchen ware does not require gloves or a respirator, but hands should be dried well after using the oils. Paper towels are a great safety feature around the shop.
These are all common sense approaches to safety in the work shop but it is important to do them. The other power tools as well as hand tools have their own safety requirements and they also should be followed. Safety adds to the enjoyment of the turning and ensures it for a long time to come.