Category Archives: Safety

Woodworker’s Safety Day 2015

In addition to celebrating my 1,500th post this week, I was also at the Governor’s Hurricane Conference teaching emergency responders how to work with the media. It was a great class, and I have got to tell you that I had a ton of fun.


OK, maybe a little too much fun, but who cares, right?

A big part of our classwork is helping our aspiring public information officers understand where they fit in during a disaster. And, according to FEMA, there is a very specific place where they do belong – front and center. That is a major rule laid out by the Incident Command System, which operates under they National Incident Management System.

The Incident Command System

Public information shares that top billing along with the Liaison officer, whose job it is to coordinate between agencies outside of the responding agencies, and the Safety officer, whose job it is to ensure that everyone gets home without injury if at all possible. Together, these three officers and the Incident Commander make up the Command staff.

Now that you are thoroughly bored, let me ask you why those three positions are so close to the Incident Commander?  The reason? Well, it comes back to an old expression – out of sight, out of mind.


Without a PIO, the needs of the citizens will be forgotten. Without a Liaison officer, the incident can become siloed, and no one thinks to reach out to the other affected organizations. And, if safety is overlooked, people get hurt or die.

With today being Woodworker Safety Day, how much time do you spend thinking about safety in your shop, or is it an issue of out of sight, out of mind? Sure, the tools we buy all come with operators manuals, but how many of us just skip by the safety warnings inside them? How many of us remove the safety devices from our tools because they get in the way? How many times do we make that one last cut and forget to grab the eye or hearing protection?

It happens. And, for the vast majority of times, nothing ever happens.

But, just as with any accident, that split second of carelessness can jump up and bite us hard. That’s why we have to think like Incident Commanders and ensure that we put safety front and center.


For instance, I know that my old table saw’s splitter did create an area where kickback could occur on behind the blade, but my new saw’s riving knife is a much safer option. I always keep my push sticks and other sleds handy, because I can work with more confidence at the power tools.

Safety aids

I keep my eye protection close at hand. After having my share of accidents where I was able to walk away from them with minimal damage, I am very happy to take the time to ensure safety is job number one, two and three.

Personal protectionWhile it may not be the sexiest part of woodworking, safety gear keeps you in the shop in command of your tools. After all, isn’t that the best part?

I’m such a luger…

Sure, the Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia ended four months ago, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t groove on the whole winter sports thing. In fact, a recent safety purchase I recently made has me thinking about one of the most death-defying sports of the entire spectacle – the luge.

A luge mask

You remember the luge, don’t you? The sport where male or female drivers sit on an unnervingly small sled and side down a twisting course at breakneck speeds while wearing spandex and just a tiny helmet? Oh, and on that tiny helmet, they have a very futuristic looking visor that helps improve their aerodynamics and keeps the wind off their faces.

It's the mask!

Well, this past Father’s Day, my wife and sons presented me with a Full Face Safety Visor from Infinity Cutting Tools, and I think I may finally be in love with my eye protection. This baby is something else. Traditionally, full face safety shields have been standard issue for turners for years, but they have normally been held on the head by means of a headband, making them a little uncomfortable to wear.

Not this. It’s a lightweight design that is held on through a pair of standard ear arms like you would find on a normal pair of glasses. Oh, did I mention glasses, as in I can wear my prescription glasses under the visor while in the shop? Or a dust mask as well?

Coated with an anti-fog layer, I have yet to get these babies to fog up. And, that’s with me panting in my hot Florida shop, which normally has my regular safety glasses totally hazed over.

I really like how they don’t affect my vision at all. I can look anywhere and there’s no distortion whatsoever. They also protect my entire face, so there’s less of a chance of me catching something in the chin or a cheek, causing a disfiguring accident. Hey, I don’t get paid at work for my good looks, so I need all the help I can get!

I’d be lying if I said I never saw these before. Just this past March, my son Steven wore a set of them while turning his first pen. So, he was definitely feeling the love back then. I was intrigued back at the Tampa Fairgrounds, and I’m glad I have my very own for woodworking.

Peeking out the microfiber bag

Another great thing about this visor is that it comes with a microfiber cloth bag to store it in. This helps keep the surface from getting scratched up, but also serves as a great cleaning cloth in case I get finger smudges on it.

Simple to use. Lightweight. Full face protection. I may look like a luger, but this visor makes me feel like a big time winner, baby!

Woodworkers Safety Day 2014

Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! It’s Woodworkers Safety Day, and it’s like my birthday and a trip to the zoo all in one..

OK, I can’t whip up that much excitement when it comes to safety in the workshop. I mean, what is so exciting about safety? When you do woodworking well, you step out of your shop with a beautifully cut joint, a gently shaped curve or a finish that you will want to show off.

When you do safety well, you just walk out of the shop and do what you would normally do. Play with the kids. Make dinner. Watch TV. Go to the gym for a workout.

Hey, wait a second… those are fun things you can do, and, in many cases, you can’t do them if you are recovering from a nasty injury in the shop. I bet those stitches would burn if you went for a swim. I bet that eye injury might keep you from enjoying a movie with the ones you love.

I shudder to think of those shutters

Just as with my day job – preparing people for disasters – safety is about keeping things as normal as possible for you. By shuttering your windows when a hurricane comes, your home is more likely to survive the storm, which means you are more likely to sleep in your own bed while waiting for repairs, instead of trying to complete the paperwork to get a FEMA trailer to spend the next six months in while your home is rebuilt.

In the same way, keeping safety top of mind – and making sure that you think safety through all steps in your woodworking process – means your routine is much less likely to be disrupted.

I'm number one!

Believe me, I have hurt myself in the shop, and that’s the kind of excitement I can do without. I can tell you from first hand experience that healing stinks. Staying healthy is where it’s at, because the very next day, you can be right out in the shop, spending your free time doing what you enjoy the most, whether it be woodworking or some other past time.

This year, we asked that some other bloggers submit their safety entries for the effort, and we got some great submissions. Here’s what came in…

‘Tis the season… to prepare

You’ll never guess where I am? Let me give you a few clues…

It’s mid May. My day job is as a public spokesperson for our county’s Emergency Management department. I live right on the Gulf of Mexico…

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane names

Yup.. hurricane season is coming up fast, and I am at the Governor’s Hurricane Conference helping to spread the word about preparedness and to take a few tips back home to help teach others.

That also means that the time has come again to talk about disaster preparedness and your shop. You would be surprised how vulnerable your shop can be to all kinds of disasters – hurricanes, fires, floods … the works.

Don’t think it can happen to you? That’s exactly what my friend Kyle Barton believed about his Galveston, Texas shop. That was until Hurricane Ike decided to pay a visit there, and do some tremendous damage to the shop. You can read Part One and Part Two here…

Kyle’s shop after Hurricane Ike

If a disaster did befall your shop, what would happen? After all, if you have a typical shop, you probably have a pretty significant investment of time and equipment out there. How can you replace that?

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Read your policy. Seriously. Get it out and take a look at it. What’s covered? You might be surprised with how much – or how little – coverage you have.
  • Do a shop inventory. Remember, you have to have a listing of what’s in your shop to provide an insurance adjuster after the incident is over. A list of your tools with model numbers is great.. and don’t forget to snap a few pictures. There are also tons of apps out there that can help you make this process a whole lot easier.
  • Identify the important stuff. Do you have a tool with great sentimental value? Maybe a plane that your grandfather used? How about a set of chisels you won in a contest? Small, meaningful items should be identified in advance so you won’t forget them, nor will you waste time hunting them down.
  • Can you ship some stuff out? If you have the ability to move some of your larger power tools to safer areas – such as a storage unit in a place that is less likely to flood – it might be a good idea to find out how much it would cost to move things there if you have advance warning – as with a hurricane. Some insurance companies may even pick up the cost of moving these items to a safer place – which costs them much less than replacing them.
  • It’s just stuff. Never – and I mean NEVER – fail to take appropriate life-saving action to protect your shop tools. Seriously. People have had entire shop losses and have been able to rebuild everything better after the fact … because they were safe when the incident happened.

burned shop

Of course, should something happen in your shop, it will be a devastating blow. But, remember, you built your shop – in many cases – from nothing. Just take the steps to make the recovery a little easier. You may thank me one day.

Non-Link of the week

Woodworker’s Safety Day

It is a tradition started by Marc Spagnuolo over at the Wood Whisperer, and it is now being continued by the Modern Woodworkers Association. It’s Woodworkers Safety Day, and it’s a time for us to take some time out from our normal routines, and to think about staying safe in the shop.


How do we plan on celebrating this day on May 17? It’s easy…

If you are a blogger, take a little time out of your posting schedule and write a post about some aspect of woodworking safety. Maybe a jig you built that keeps your hands away from a spinning bit or blade. Maybe a piece of safety equipment that you can’t do without. Maybe even a story about a hard-learned lesson.

Be sure to send that link to me at, and we can post it for others to find.

Thanks for your help!

Jeepers peepers!

It was the famous western philosopher Yogi Berra who once famously said, “I don’t mind getting old. It sure beats the alternative.” Hey, Yogi!

While I am only at the young age of 45, there are some indications that I am no longer as young as I used to be. When I was 12 years old, I used to be able to recover from a cold in a day or two. Now, it takes me a week – after I go to the doctor – to start to feel better.

Instead of running and playing basketball for hours without any issues, I now find aches and pains in places I never knew that I had.

Me sporting my new framesAnd, for the past 45 years, my eyesight has been a perfect 20/20. But, I started to notice that I was having trouble reading things. I needed a ton more light, and I also needed some arm extensions. So, this past Saturday, I went to my eye doctor for a checkup. And, you guessed it, I need glasses. Not just for reading, but also to correct the slightest astigmatism in my distance vision.

Oh, well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

While this does give me the opportunity to create a more distinguished look, it also presents an issue when it comes to woodworking. You see, as Norm Abrams reminded me before he built anything that there’s nothing more important than wearing safety glasses. Now that I have corrective lenses, I just can’t grab any pair of safety glasses. I now need to think of my options.

This is my Matrix lookMy first option is to just ditch the glasses in my shop and use plain old safety glasses. Again, my vision issues are up-close reading and a slight issue with distance. Since the vast mid-distance focal field isn’t affected, this is a viable option.

Eye see you, DoctorThe other option would be to get a pair of prescription safety glasses. This would keep me used to working with my new prescription while protecting my eyes. But, my first initial inquiries have a separate set of safety glasses coming in about $450. Just a tad too expensive for me.

Built-in cheaters

Another option would be to find safety glasses with readers built into the lenses. These are available online and at many home improvement centers. My prescription called for the reading portion of the glasses to have a 1.5+ diopter, which is a very common strength. The problem with this, however, is that my prescriptions glasses are going to be progressive lenses, which is a wildly different way of seeing with those bifocal type lenses.

Over the glasses protectionMy final option seems to be finding a pair of over-the-glasses safety eyewear. As the name implies, these safety glasses fit over the prescription eyewear, allowing for the benefits of seeing as with my glasses while having protection for both the glasses and my eyes.

While I will have to weigh my options, I was warned by my eye doctor that I shouldn’t use my new glasses in the shop for at least two weeks. That’s about how long it will take for me to get used to using the new glasses, and he was concerned with me putting my hands anywhere near blades or bits while trying to adjust to the new visual reality.

In the meantime, I guess I will just have to accept my new role as Professor Iovino, Monkey specialist.

The Safety Agenda

So, no poll yesterday, huh?  Yeah, I spent most of my day driving across the state of Florida to get to the Governor’s Hurricane Conference.  Yes, that’s the big event I go to every year to learn to learn more about how to keep folks safer come this season.

My friend Bob and I are here to teach a few classes on media relations.  Thus, no poll yesterday.

Yup, I'll be instructing again...

However, we will be focusing on the safety agenda for this season. And, when Bob is teaching, I’ll be working on making some notes on how to make my table saw a little safer.  (Hey, Bob’s an exciting teacher and all, but come on, man, he’s no woodworking!)

I’ve decided that – of c course – I will be working with my splitter in place for the time being. However, I think the time is coming  for a table saw upgrade.  Something with a lot better dust collection that the open stand contractors saw I’m working with.  And, something with a riving knife.

A riving knife

Those new saws with the riving knives are a real pleasure to use. I’ve seen more than a few saws demonstrated with this nifty feature and they are the bee’s knees.  The knife hovers just a fraction of an inch behind the rear of the saw blade, keeping the board from contacting the rear of the blade where the teeth, rising to the apex of the blade  – can grab the wood to flip it back.

I also found an interesting fact about the Delta Unifence and most European saws – the fence only comes to a point just beyond the front edge of the teeth of the blade. This ‘half fence’ set up helps prevent the pinching of the wood between the rear teeth and the rip fence, virtually eliminating any possibility of kickback.  I think I can do something to that effect with a piece of wood and my trusty fence clamps I use for my dado fence.  Pretty swift.

European saws have half-fences

Plus, wow, I really need some better  dust collection.  Sure, I have one of those Velcro on bags that sits below the fence in the stand, but I usually end up using a shop vac to clean things up after the fact. Almost all new saws come with a dust port that grabs a great portion of what’s generated.  Not only will my workspace be neater, I’ll be a lot safer.  Rhonda won’t be chasing after me with a broom to get me to clean up!

Plus, I’m sure I can get some money for the old saw. I have been treating it well for the past decade, and I’m sure it would be able to find a new home.

Hmm… now, how to get me a new one…