10 Woodworking Rules Every Woodworker Should Know

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As a woodworker, being happy simply means that you are able to work on, and complete a project in the safest way possible. After all, how could you become happy and satisfied if you end up hurting yourself during the process?

We all know the tagline “Safety First”, and as much as possible, we would also want to observe that. In this article, we have listed 10 rules to a happy woodworking life, while maintaining safety in the workplace at the same time.

1. Observe Proper Safety Gear

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One of the first and the foremost rules in woodworking is wearing proper safety gear. Even though hearing equipment is needed while working on some extremely noisy tools like surface planers and routers, you should never enter your workplace without wearing your safety glasses. Why not make it a habit to put your safety glasses on before entering your work shop, and avoid taking them off right until you leave? Keep in mind that your eyesight is just too important to expose to risks.

Among the other gears that you need to have in handy are latex gloves. They are highly useful when it comes to applying finishes. There are also certain tasks that may require some special equipment. You may want to do your own research about these first, so that you can also prepare the right safety gear for the job. Making sure that you follow this very important safety rule will lead to a happier working on your project.

2. Wear The Right Clothing

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Aside from the safety gear that you need to prepare before working on a project, it is also important to wear the right type of clothing for the job. As a general rule, avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes. This type of clothing has the tendency to be entangled in a cutting head or saw blade.

Rather, choose clothes that feel comfortable for you, and for the environment where you are working in. At the same time, it will also provide protection to your body against wayward wood chips which might come as a result from cutting. Before you even start, make sure that you remove any jewelry, including bracelets and neck chains.

3. Deal with Power the Right Way

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Dealing with power correctly is very important when working on your project. Make sure that you disconnect the power cord before changing blades. This also goes the same way if you need to make some adjustments to any electrical tool. Avoid simply checking to see whether or not the switch is off, since a switch can easily malfunction or get bumped.

We often hear of woodworkers losing their fingers, or even worse than that, by forgetting this seemingly simple, yet extremely important rule. More careful woodworkers even have to affix the wrenches out to the power cables so that they will never forget disconnecting the power. Make it a habit to disconnect power first before doing any adjustments just to make sure.

4. Avoid Alcohol and Drugs while Working

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This may seem absurd to you at first. Who would enter their work shop drunk and work on a project? Well, this happens too often, especially among seasoned woodworkers. They think that they are vulnerable to making mistakes, despite being under the influence of alcohol, or worse, drugs. Regardless of your reason, it is not appropriate to complete a project when under the influence of these substances.

Alcohol and drugs have the tendency to alter your decision making process, even slowing down your reaction. Therefore, whether you are seasoned or not, you will still be prone to accidents and committing work mistakes under this condition.

5. Make Good Use of Sharp Blades and Bits

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This rule is among the “no-brainers”, so to say. Of course, you would want to use sharp blades and bits ONLY, right? However, if you are too engrossed in your project, you might fail to check whether or not your tools are still in the right condition. Keep in mind that a dull tool can be very dangerous.

If a saw blade is not sharp as required of it, you will need to exert more effort in order to complete a certain task. In these cases, there is a tendency that the tool will bind or even kick-back. On the other hand, by using sharper tools, you can create a cleaner cut, which means that you will enjoy more than just safety benefits. Make sure that your blades are sharp and clean, and you will enjoy better results.

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6. Work Against the Cutter – ALWAYS!

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By design, power tools work in a way in which direction that the wood moves through it is in the opposite direction of the cutting head movement. This means that a saw blade or router bit need to cut against the movement, and not along with it. When working on a cutter, cut right into the stock, and not with the stock. This is a very important rule that every woodworker should know. For one, this is safer, and two, it produces better output in your work. If you are a beginner, you might find this quite difficult to get accustomed to. However, with constant practice, you can get it done in no time.

7. Check everything before cutting

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Checking everything means looking for screws, nails as well as other metal as you are preparing to cut something. This may sound so silly for a rule to a happy woodworking life, but trust us, a lot of woodworkers ended up disappointed after failing to do this seemingly easy tip. Make sure that you check your prepared stock for cutting for any type of metal, before starting to cut.

This is because nails should not be combined together with a rapidly moving saw blade. Aside from damaging both the stock and the cutting head, it can also result to a kick-back, which is a very common cause of physical injury among woodworkers. Make sure that you carefully inspect the stock first before cutting. If possible, you can also use a metal detector to do the job for you.

8. Avoid Putting Your Hands Near the Moving Blade

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Another no-brainer here! It is always best to avoid reaching over a blade when removing some cut-offs. This is particularly applicable when working on a miter saw, table saw, and other types of saws. Make sure that you never place your hands, especially near the blade that is moving, most especially when removing some cut-offs or waste.

It is best to wait until you see that the blade has completely stopped moving before you start reaching out for the cut-offs. Even better if you still use a push stick or a scrap piece to remove the waste away, rather than using your hands to do so. Keep in mind that switches may malfunction or get bumped. Therefore, just because you see that the blade has already stopped, does not mean that you can relax in putting your hands close.

9. Use a Single Extension Cord

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Using multiple extension cords may sound convenient, but using just one extension cord can actually offer some unique benefits. With this, you can choose a heavy-duty extension cord which is capable of handling several equipment. In doing so, you will be forced to switch the cord from a tool to another before you can use the tool. In this way, you are reminded to plug and unplug the power as you move from tool to tool. At the same time, you will feel more alert of the need to keep in disconnecting the power cord as you make blade or bit changes.

10. Avoid Distractions

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One of the most important rules that you need to take into consideration is avoiding distractions while working on a project. We may say that distractions are a regular part of our everyday life, and completing a woodworking project is no exception. However, when you are distracted or summoned in the middle of doing something, especially with a power tool, things can get nasty.

If you cannot stop a distraction from bugging in, make sure to finish the cut first before giving your attention to the new distraction. Needless to say, taking your focus away from your tool, and the project in general, is a huge recipe for disaster.


Did you like the article above? Indeed, being happy while completing your woodworking project is one of the secrets to happiness as a woodworker. After all, you would like to enjoy the product of your labor with complete fingers and unharmed hands. By following the 10 rules above, you can achieve this special kind of happiness unique among woodworkers.

Do you have any feedback or other suggestions? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Share this article if you liked it!

  • September 6, 2017
  • DIY