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Circular saw, jointer and table saw scare the living $#1+ out of me.

How do I get rid of the fear? I've watched tons of safety videos and read all manuals cover to cover and still feel wary of using them.

I guess I can describe myself as a DIY'er wannabe at best.

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  • 16
    If you are scared of using them, don't. Fear will make you make mistakes, cutting of body parts. When you have a healthy respect for them, then start using them. Never take them for granted. Would start with a power hand sander and sand stuff you don't need.
    – crip659
    Sep 21 at 20:24
  • 41
    As well it should. There's a strong tendency for young people to "go straight for power tools" and skip the phase of learning where you spend a couple years "coming up" on hand tools, and actually learn through tactile experience how materials behave. Try hand-sawing through a knot a few dozen times, and you'll learn to recognize a knot when it's coming up, and be able to help the power saw through it, instead of being surprised when it kicks back. You just can't learn that stuff any other way but experience. Power tools are a thing to graduate to. Sep 21 at 20:31
  • 5
    @crip659 Eh, I disagree; fear is good. It means you will be extra careful. What's dangerous to your life and limb is a sense of invincibility and thinking you are fine running all that wood through the table saw without a push bar or any guards or kickback protection. That's how you walk away with 9 fingers... or fewer.
    – TylerH
    Sep 21 at 21:24
  • 9
    Something else which might help (or at least it did for me): ear plugs. I've never liked a lot of loud noise (undiagnosed autism/sensory thing maybe? Although I'm quite happy turning the music up to 11 ...) and handling both the noise and the new experience of using the tools made it harder for me at first. It's easier to deal with one thing at a time...
    – brhans
    Sep 21 at 22:48
  • 6
    Just wanna add that these things ARE pretty damn scary, objectively speaking. Better respect them a little bit too much than cut away without worry and lose a finger.
    – MaxD
    Sep 22 at 9:46

16 Answers 16

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Check with your park districts and your community colleges for information on their wood working classes. Many offer classes on hand and power tools. You could also check with some local carpenters and cabinet makers for some individual instruction on the tools you're interested in.

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    There may also be "maker spaces" in your area that can offer hands-on instruction and some "Elmer" help.
    – jdv
    Sep 22 at 12:58
17

Fear will lessen once you are familiar with the tools operation. To build familiarity…

  • Read the instructions before using a new tool.
  • Watch videos online to familiarise yourself with how the tool works, (Start with the manufacturers website first).
  • Look at the blade and figure out how it cuts and which way it runs (with the tool unplugged). Be careful with any sharp blades.
  • Create an un-crowded workspace, free from distractions and debris. Route power cables safely to avoid trip hazards.
  • Work out the best way to hold the workpiece firmly and safely (clamps are good).
  • Familiarise yourself with the tools controls before starting up (unplugged).
  • Start the tool up a few times and familiarize yourself with its motion, feel and sound.
  • Position yourself comfortably and practice the best way to hold the tool once it’s in operation so it doesn't snatch the workpiece.
  • Consider what happens if it does snatch the workpiece, which way will it go? (Shouldn’t happen if you support the workpiece properly).
  • Following the instructions, slowly and steadily, but firmly and deliberately use the tool for the first time to make a small cut.
  • After cutting, be very careful when you put the tool down, usually you should wait until it has completely stopped to be safe.
  • Always be aware of the tool, where it is, whether it’s plugged in and if the power is live.

You've already got off to a good start, but there is no substitute to making an informed start with something small. Always practice cutting a few times on scrap, before trying to complete a finished job.

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    'Start the tool up a few times' - is good, but being able to turn it off or cut the power (without thinking) is probably more important.
    – Tim
    Sep 22 at 11:27
  • Agree Tim, but I'm trying to think if any of my tools have direct on/off switches... Hmm, a few are admittedly, but most of the others are 'dead man' switches...
    – handyman
    Sep 23 at 12:29
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    For the last 50-odd yrs, every powertool I had/have has the cable shortened to about a foot, and a 'kettle plug' sicket put on the end. Not only then do I have only one cable to mains, supplying several tools one at a time, but should there be a problem, it's simplee to cut the electricity supply - pull out the plug, never far away from the tool - about a foot. True, dead-man switches work quite well too.
    – Tim
    Sep 23 at 16:08
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Get a lot of practice.

To start, go buy (or dumpster-dive) some cheap plywood. Then cut it into little pieces and throw them away. Just burn the wood as practice cuts - don't try to "make" anything. You'll want to start by practicing small things (cross-cut some 2x4's, cut 12" pieces of plywood, etc.), then work up to practicing cuts across a sheet and along the length of a sheet. Try practicing some fine details, like "a strip 5 feet long and exactly 3-3/4 inches wide".

The most terrifying one will probably be the circular saw. Once you can break down your sheet goods, you can move to the table saw and work on making fine, precise cuts.

Honestly, the jointer scares me, too. Because the failure mode throws my body parts directly at the blade. Make sure you have some push paddles, and keep a healthy fear of that thing. ;-) Also, practice your positioning before each cut-- "paddles will both be on this side, then the stick gets here and I move this paddle over, ... etc."

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    I'm a bit confused. "Practice making small things"... the smaller the piece you're cutting, the more dangerous it is as the closer your fingers are to the spiny bity bits of the tool and the harder it is to clamp. You've got 7 up votes (as of now), so I must be the only one not getting this. Care to help a guy who hasn't had enough coffee yet?
    – FreeMan
    Sep 22 at 13:15
  • @FreeMan clamps are your friends.
    – fraxinus
    Sep 22 at 13:36
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    I've got clamps, @fraxinus, (though nobody has enough). I find that the smaller the piece, the more difficult it is to clamp it and still leave enough room for the tool base to have room so I can get the cutting edge to where it needs to be. I suppose this is a good exercise for clamping creativity...
    – FreeMan
    Sep 22 at 13:38
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    A "DIYer wannabe" probably doesn't need to be using a jointer, anyways. I'd consider it an advanced woodworking tool. Sep 22 at 15:49
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    @FreeMan I meant OP should work their way up to cutting entire sheets. Small things in this case would be cross-cutting 2x4's, for example.
    – aghast
    Sep 22 at 17:55
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You don't need powertools, especially if your livelihood doesn't include woodworking.

Woodworking is a kind of meditation for me, and I could not relax while using powertools. Sure, it's slower with hand tools, but being fast really is not the goal. And this way, I know I cannot lose a finger during a second of inattention.

It's possible to create awesome objects with just a few tool:

The only power tool I ever use is an electric drill. I sometimes use a brace, which works perfectly fine.

The stuff I produce has many small flaws, but I don't care much. It's still a great feeling to see my daughter play with her Lego castles on a shelf I created, or eat dinner in front of a sunset, on a DIY table.

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There are thousands of techniques to learn with hand-tools, and there are many low-tech tutorials on the Internet (just one example: "how to saw with a Japanese pull saw").

If you watch woodworking tutorials with powertools, you can very often find alternative ways to follow them with hand tools. I followed this tutorial for the DIY table, simply using a Ryoba instead of a Miter saw.

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    You see "flaws", the world sees a hand crafted item with character and love. See the positive.
    – Criggie
    Sep 23 at 8:28
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    @Criggie Thanks. And yes, definitely. I just wanted to mention an objective advantage of power tools : they can give you very clean and straight results relatively easily. Sep 23 at 8:43
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    This. (And a comment up above). You can do a lot of work with hand tools very well for comparatively little effort, if you practice. And it's really worth learning, because it will make you much more like a crafstman when you do use power tools, and much less like a cowboy. Personally I'd advise a newbie to avoid sandpaper for a bit and learn to use a plane + paring chisel + spokeshave, because you feel the wood rather than 'imposing' a shape on it by abrasion. Really nice furniture btw.
    – 2e0byo
    Sep 23 at 9:56
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What you want is a repectful fear of the tools. They can indeed seriously injure or kill, but most often the things that cause it are because you took a shortcut or didn't pay attention.

Do you drive a car? Cars kill tons of folks every year, yet millions of folks use them to safely get where they need to go. The first thing I told my kids about driving the riding lawnmower is it has enough power to potentially kill someone. Neither are likely, and proper respect for their use will generally keep you from doing things that increase those odds.

The part that scares folks about saws is they cut and they kickback. Even my father-in-law (longtime professional woodworker) nearly had his table saw take off a finger when it threw a board back at him. But we're talking about a man with thousands of hours of power tool use getting one bad board (and even he admitted he could have been more careful). Odds are, if you use power tools long enough, it will do something unexpected (law of averages). As a weekend warrior, we're talking about a possibility on the order of being killed by a lightning strike.

Kickbacks happen because you

  1. Fed too much into the saw too quickly (i.e. pushed a board hard into a table saw)
  2. Hit something hard (nail, super-hard knot, etc)
  3. The thing you were cutting shifted and bound up on the blade (i.e. cutting a long board down the middle with a circular saw)

The ways you can limit these are

  1. Carefully feed things into the saw (or the saw into things). Give it time to let the blade do the cutting (if feeding a table saw, use tools to help you feed and never use your hands)
  2. This can't always be avoided, but proper eye protection is useful, as well as marking your cuts (and trying to note where binding events can occur)
  3. Properly support your cut materials. Having a helper hold the board can often avoid this.

Other tips to help with this are

  1. Buy a smaller battery-powered saw and start there. They're more expensive than their corded cousins, (those batteries aren't cheap) but the battery means they can't throw as much power behind the blade either (less power = not as much kickback). My 15A plug circular takes a 7 1/4" blade, but many battery saws take 6 1/4", and some are as small as 4" (which is more or less a glorified angle grinder)
  2. See if your local hardware store does a demo of tools. These tools aren't cheap and are often a profit center, so expect to find someone willing to help you make a choice you can live with
  3. Start with a miter. Fewer kickbacks and issues to worry with. Lots of cutting is right-angle so they're a good starter saw.
  4. Make a small table. Sounds corny, but I've made some small end tables for our porch. You won't need a lot of wood, they're pretty sturdy, and plans for them are plentiful online. The key is you'll start making smaller cuts on smaller boards, which helps you get used to the saw. Then try a bigger table. Work up from there. I find a defined project helps me focus on the task and forget my trepidation.
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    1st two paragraphs: +100! Advantages to circular or miter saw: If they kick back they throw the wood away from you (circular saw) or into the table (miter saw). If a table saw kicks back, it throws the wood 40' across the shop, above all the student's desks, and makes a big dent in the chalkboard (Jr. High School experience - fortunately, the students were all at the tools, not at their desks).
    – FreeMan
    Sep 22 at 15:48
  • I've had a miter throw one only one time. It was a PT 2x4 (short piece) and I needed about 1" off the end. There was a knot in there I didn't see and it sheared 3 teeth off (was an older blade too, so possibly on me for not checking). Threw it up in the air across the room. My hand holding the board really stung on that, tho. But yeah, tables will throw the board back at you, usually in a dramatic way.
    – Machavity
    Sep 22 at 16:01
  • Yikes! You had the joy of flying wood and flying teeth! (at least they weren't yours)
    – FreeMan
    Sep 22 at 16:04
  • Oh, and just for fun, later that year in shop class, the teacher managed to nearly completely sever 3 fingers! I also slipped at the belt sander and took one knuckle down to the bone. After 35+ years, the scar has faded enough that I can't remember which finger it was. Yes, power tools can be dangerous. However, being aware of the danger and using proper technique will limit the likelihood of something dangerous happening.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 22 at 16:07
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    No. Incident chance is NOT a linear law of averages. Hour for hour, novices are much more vulnerable to accidents because they don't know what to look out for, and don't know what they're doing. Yes, commercial pilots crash small planes. Amateur pilots crash small planes a lot more. Sep 22 at 19:51
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These two statements are incompatible:

Fear of using power tools

and

Circular saw, jointer and table saw

The former tells me you have almost no experience doing DIY so a jointer and a table saw are not beginner tools.

I bought a circular saw and compound sliding miter saw first, 4 years later a table saw, and have yet to buy a jointer. I've renovated my house more than I'd like to admit.

When using a circular saw always make sure you're workpiece is on a stable surface and clamped down. Verify that your work surface is not in the cut path before cutting the workpiece. Use a high-quality blade and never run it through metal. The sharper the blade, the less kickback potential. Get someone to help you when making long cuts or put your workpiece across two stable surfaces and cut in the open air space.

Wear Earmuffs

They let you concentrate on your work instead of ear pain.

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    The former tells me you have almost no experience doing DIY so a jointer and a table saw are not beginner tools. Excellent points!
    – FreeMan
    Sep 22 at 15:00
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    Yeah really. I won't even use a circular saw. Where I need that, I use other tools. As for a table saw... SawStop. Try to resist the urge to cut hot dogs. Sep 22 at 18:26
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica plywood sheathing for a house is a good reason for a circular saw. Anything that requires precision definitely needs a tablesaw. I feel like a homeowner owning a sawstop would be counterproductive because they would have an immense fear of jacking up their saw blade and stop. Yes, the point of a sawstop is so that your digits remain mostly intact but fear isn't rational.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 22 at 19:33
  • @MonkeyZeus I used them at TechShop and was very impressed. It was the most popular wood tool. And the staff sing songs about the time the mechanism was fired, which is to say, it wasn't that often despite a revolving door of casual users. Sep 22 at 19:47
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica Yep, usually out of reach (price-wise) for the average DIY-er.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 23 at 18:51
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It is good that you think about the dangers. You will get over your fears as soon as you understand the dangers involved.

Portable powertools differ.

Something like an power-sander or a dremel should be safe (I let my 4year old one work on a scrap-piece of plywood with a dremel, he had safety googles, earmuffs, gloves and a great time).

Jigsaws should be quite safe, as long as one can think about where he places his fingers while he saws away (the professionals use a barrel-grip saw and place them under the piece, so that the blade points upwards. That way the material on the upper, visible side won't splinter, as the blade cuts downwards into the material, while they can observe and direct the cut). Kickback can happen, but are light. I'd place a router in the same area.

Circular saws are to be respected for their kickback. Riving knifes will reduce kickback significantly. Circular saws without them are illegal in my jurisdiction.

Chainsaws (yes, those are not really tools for the fine woodworking) produce a lot of injuries per year. Don't operate one without proper training.

Bandsaws, jointers, tablesaws and perhaps lathes are one of the most dangerous things out there in the trade. It isn't wrong to have an healthy respect for them. Those should be only bought and operated after thorough training. Courses are a good way to be familiar with them, as you can operate them under professional supervision. Just watching some Youtube videos might not cut it..

The most important thing is about how you work: Have the piece firmly attached, have a good light and be calm and attentive. Much more accidents happen when one is in a hurry, while being exhausted, in the low-light, holding the workpiece with one hand while sawing with the other hand.

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  1. Experience: Fear is just an acute awareness around the dangers — it's natural and it'll go away with time.
  2. Workspace supports: One of my biggest worries is the flex in long pieces as it sits in the tool — purchase roller stands or telescoping saw horses or create your own supports. It'll prevent kickback on circle saws and partially free your hands, e.g. you won't be holding the wood against the table. I can't tell you how many times I've had to tag my wife to hold a 10' 2x4 as I've cut 6" segments off — it's stupid, dangerous since the wood can move unexpectedly.
  3. Workspace tables: Do not work on the floor. Purchase a (collapsible) jobsite workbench — their qualities vary and can last a lifetime. They're also great surfaces to clamp to.
  4. "Accessories": woodworking clamps, push sticks, push blocks, featherboards. Look them up — they're invaluable. They hold the piece flush to the cutting surface/fence on joiners and table saws and move the piece smoothly along. Most importantly, if a measurement is wrong they will take the "cut" instead of your fingers. These are great small projects for beginners to take on and incredibly useful.
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I can relate completely to the fear you're speaking about. I had a massive fear when I was learning how to drive. Later in life, it took me time to get past the fear for simpler tools (like my drill press). I now have a router, but I haven't yet worked up the courage to try it out.

Here's how I see the problem:

Unfamiliarity plus sensory overload (or anticipation of sensory overload) can seem overwhelming. You might fear that you'll forget one of the zillions of safety rules in the moment of making the cut (or the left turn). Ironically, these effects may be more intense for more conscientious people that always try to do things the right way.

Here are things I've done to get past that.

  • Worry only about the things that matter at the given moment. There are more safety rules than you can reasonably keep in your head at every moment.

    But a lot of the rules apply when you're setting up the tool and the operation you want. Separate out all the rules about securing your workpiece, setting the right speed for the tool, making sure the guards are in place, putting on your safety glasses, etc. Once you've completed the setup, mentally check all those safety rules off your list. If necessary, double- and triple-check the setup until you're convinced those rules are taken care of. You shouldn't be running through those once you've started doing the operation.

    Some safety rules may apply only for certain operations. If you're doing a cross cut with a table saw, you don't need to worry about safety that apply only to rip cuts or beveled cuts or dado cuts. Focus on the instructions that apply to what you're doing and put the others out of your mind.

  • Rehearse.

    Stand at the tool and pantomime all of the moves you'll make. Imagine squaring the workpiece up against the rail, how will you start to move the piece (or tool), decide at what point might you need to grab a push stick, and what happens as you finish the operation, and how you will get the piece and yourself clear of the sharp bits.

  • Desensitize.

    A lot of power tools are loud, which can contribute to the sensory overload. I recommend hearing protection, but even with that, you're going to hear it. Turn your tool on and just let it run. Learn what it sounds like. Repeat as necessary until you feel like you can turn it on without a surge in your heart rate or holding your breath. You're ready when you can imagine doing all the things your rehearsed with that racket going on.

    Of course, sound change as the tool is being used. You can watch some online videos of people using the same tool to know what sounds are normal when the saw first bites into the wood, as the cut proceeds, and as the piece clears the blade. When actually cutting, you don't want to be startled by normal sounds.

  • Work with a friend.

    A friend who already knows how to use the tool can be invaluable. They can demonstrate and explain things in a way that many videos cannot. After you've done an operation, they can offer pointers based on what you did right or wrong.

    But learning alongside someone who has no more experience than you can also be helpful. Talking through your plans and concerns can help you feel more confident even if the other person doesn't have the experience necessary to validate what you're thinking. You can take turns using the tool (and cut your risk of cutting off a finger by half!). Watching each other try new things can help you learn almost as much as if you do it yourself.

    And the very least, you know somebody will call the paramedics if it all goes horribly wrong.

  • Remind yourself that millions of buffoons are doing it. If they can, you certainly can.

    You should have a healthy bit of fear. That keeps you focused on using the tool correctly. The trick is to develop enough confidence to not let that fear stop you but not so much that you become careless.

    Woodworking tools are designed to tear apart material that can be even tougher than flesh and bone. So obviously there is real danger. But these tools are sold to anyone. You don't need a license or special insurance. Reputable brands have many safety features and are designed to make it possible for most buffoons to use them safely.

    Sure, table saw users lose 4000 fingers a year. But you have to remind yourself that most of those people were not as conscientious as you. For whatever reason, they removed a blade guard and/or got distracted and/or tried a complex operation before they got familiar with the tool. Maybe then never even read the safety tips in the manual or watched a decent how-to video. Perhaps they were overly confident and made a mistake.

    Or maybe, despite doing everything right, they got hurt anyway. I guess they should have bought a Saw Stop.

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There is nothing to fear. Don't panic. Don't think about having your hands and fingers chopped off, but think of the job that you are trying to get done. If you are afraid of the tool getting out of control, then just get a tighter grip. If you do these two things, you will be, and might feel, alot safer.

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For me, it was getting a drill with variable speed.

A long time ago, electric drills used to just have a switch - click, and it is on at full speed. When I first used a modern cordless drill that I was able to start slowly, it made me realise that I am in control of the tool.

I suggest that you build your confidence with these variable speed tools, like drill, jigsaw, sander - things that you would have to try really hard to hurt yourself with.

After some time, you will have the confidence to use the more dangerous tools and the ones that don't have soft-start capability.

You still need to maintain a healthy respect for the danger that every power tool poses - but don't be hamstrung by it.

1

Along with all the other good advice here, I'd add: wear some PPE.

A lot of "the pros" don't bother because they know what the risk factors are and are prepared for them. Even the youtubers aren't always a good example.

If you're using (say) a circular saw, then wear eye protection (glasses/googles or whatever). Wear some ear defenders - but get stuff that's comfortable so you can wear it for at least a half hour without itching or sweating. The eye protection will stop any saw dust getting in your eye, or distracting you. The ear protection will still let you hear, but it just sounds like it's further away - so the sound of the tool and the cutting won't freak you out (as much).

Of the other advice though, I'd say familiarity with the tool at hand is always useful. Likewise, clamping down your work so that it won't move before, during or after your cut will really help you. It also will get you in the habit of spending more time setting up a cut than actually cutting, thinking about your work space, the cut, risk factors etc.

I had previously said "wear some gloves" (as they'll stop any bits that fly off distracting you), but as per comments, "gloves are not recommended for spinning tools". @FreeMan makes good points that they don't actually protect you from the blade and can get caught up and so pull you into the blade rather than letting you pull away from it.

In an effort to find sources, here's one saying not to wear gloves: https://woodworking.stackexchange.com/a/88 and one saying you should: https://www.protecdirect.co.uk/Personal-Protection-Equipment-Industry-News/Circular-saw-safety-advice-issued~na~3351, although the HSE, to which they make reference don't say anything on the matter: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wis16.pdf. On balance then, I'd say don't wear gloves.

1
  • Gloves are usually not recommended for use with spinning tools. They will provide zero protection against a saw blade or drill bit, but can pull your hand into the tool should they get caught. Use them for handling the wood & clamping it up, if necessary, but not when actually using the tool.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 23 at 16:39
1

With all tools - not just power tools I take my new people on the younger side and walk them through the safety of each tool but most importantly how each tool could injure them.

Here are some examples and some might seem basic but if it is an example, I have seen someone do it this way:

Circular saw - Make sure your off hand is never used as a guide (use a wood block), make sure blade is 100% during engage or assume a kickback (and again why not to use hand as guide), turns must be gradual or blade sticks, do not operate directly over your head.

Reciprocating saw - don't go at the wood (material) with blade engaged. Start your cuts at the material. Make sure you have the right blade for the right material. These blades are cheap and easy to switch between a metal and wood blade. Never operate directly overhead. Two hands should be on the saw and off hand should apply slight pressure to cut area.

Angle grinder - one of the more dangerous pieces of equipment. Only cut away from you, only turn on away from you. Even with grinder spinning always expect kickback. Make sure that blade is done spinning before moving grinder to another position.

Mitre Saw - Never hold anything within a couple inches and 6" should be a minimum. If you need to cut something smaller you might need to find tool. Also I cringe when a younger crew member is looking around for a 4" piece of trim because their next cut needs to be 3.5"... Sometimes not getting hurt is making good decisions before you get to the tool. For sure wear goggles if you are cutting basically anything but wood. I would say always wear goggles but I understand for this tool some don't. Plastic, metal, other materials split off a mitre saw fast and usually right where you are sitting.

Drill - Never secure an item with your hand next to a drill bit. I have seen so many fingers get shredded. If something is that small use a wrench or a clamp or whatever to hold down the piece, not your finger 2 inches away.

Table saw - Fingers/hands never in front of the blade. A good 1.5-2' is minimum. If you are crosscutting boards on a cheap/small table saw, have someone pulling and then both go to each side. If you have a small cut to make use a board or a form to push.

0

The circular saw and table saw are more noisy than dangerous (well, they ARE dangerous, but few rules can save all your fingers).

The noise is what makes a lot of people scared (even if other things can be equally bad).

The noise is what forces novices to make nervous movements and less than objective judgements.

  1. Get hearing protectors. Other safety gear that people usually associate with carpentry is also obligatory, but one rarely thinks about the noise.

Fear is also promoted by being alone.

  1. Get someone to help you practice. They don't need to be experienced, just someone to see if something bad happens and is able to act responsively.
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  • 2
    "but few rules can save all your fingers" I don't think that came out quite the way you meant it... Is, "but a few rules can save all your fingers" what you meant? Also, your first statement seems to minimize the danger by making it seems less than apparent. I would disagree with that.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 22 at 13:55
  • Any machine is dangerous. People tend to feel irrationally scared by noisy ones.
    – fraxinus
    Sep 22 at 14:57
0

Learn how to use them. There's two ways you can do that.

Trail and error.

Tutelage and less error.


I've never used any tool that I've haven't seen someone else use. And I've never done anything that I've haven't seen someone else do. I had an unhealthy fear of firearms; now it's just a healthy fear as I've received years worth of instruction from someone who once held the rank of sergeant in the US military.

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    Watching shit on YouTube doesn't count.
    – Mazura
    Sep 23 at 0:54
0

Circular saws scare me also. I don't own one. I don't do enough that needs one. Also. shops will cut sheet materials to the length or width you want for a small charge per cut, using a massive circular saw rig I don't know the name for.

If I did need to use a circular saw, I'd probably find some training classes to learn about what to do and (critically) not to do.

I have a jigsaw. It's very hard to do yourself a serious injury with a jigsaw. True, it cuts slower than a circular saw, and you cannot get an exactly straight edge. Often that doesn't matter, for example the cut edge of a shelf or worktop against the wall. When it does, you can use a plane or power planer to smooth the cut edge.

It's also a far more versatile tool. You can cut openings and curves with it.

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