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Wood Turning Safety and Safety Equipment


Wood Turning Safety Gear John Howard/Photodisc/Getty Images
As with any woodshop task, safety should be the first priority whenever woodturning with a lathe. By committing some basic safety rules to habit, you can enjoy woodturning safely.

Safety Glasses:

As with all woodworking, safety glasses are the most important piece of safety equipment. There are numerous styles of safety glasses. Try out the many styles that your woodworking supplier offers, and find a pair that you'll be comfortable wearing. Be certain that the pair you choose incorporates impact resistant lenses and side screens to protect against debris created by your power tools.

Face Shield:

A face shield is a good idea when wood turning, as chips tend to fly in any direction. A clear, impact resistant full-face shield will keep these flying chips and debris out of your face, helping you to avoid distraction when turning.

Proper Attire:

When wood turning, proper attire is of the utmost concern. It is adviseable to wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt to keep flying chips and debris at bay. However, you should wearing avoid loose-fitting clothing, to prevent the excess cloth from becoming entangled in the machine.

Also, when wood turning, a woodworker's apron is a good idea. This will also help keep flying wood chips away from your body.


When turning some woods, particularly fine imported woods such as mahogany or rosewood, it is advisable to wear a dust mask or even a respirator, as the fine dust generated by turning these woods can cause irritation to the lungs and mucous membranes. Prolonged exposure to such dust may cause some long-term effects.

Always Use the Tool Rest:

When wood turning, never free-hand a tool into the turning stock. At the very minimum, this can cause tear-out, which can ruin your hard-earned efforts and turn a fine wood turning into firewood immediately. Even worse, free-handing can cause a the tool to be ripped out of your hands. A flying, sharp cutting tool is a recipe for disaster.

To properly use a lathe, the tool rest should be placed close to the work and tightened in place. Always rest the tool before moving it into the stock.

Adjust your Turning Speed for the Stock Size:

As a general rule, the larger the piece of stock, the slower the speed that the lathe motor should spin. Turning a very thin piece of stock for a pen can be rotated much faster than an eight-inch piece of stock for turning a bowl. Remember to set the speed of the lathe before turning on the lathe motor. Failure to adhere to this rule can result in a rather large projectile.

Read the Safety Precautions:

As with any power tool, always read and follow the safety instructions that come with the tool. Failure to follow the safety instructions can lead to severe injury, and even death.
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