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Health & Safety Basics in the Workshop from

Regular customers of the woodcarving and woodturning tools and equipment supplier The ToolPost ( have sufficient experience in the workshop to know the importance of taking health and safety precautions. However, even the most accomplished and sensible woodturner can become so engrossed with the task at hand that safety measures slip. Therefore, it's always worth reminding ourselves of some health and safety basics in the workshop.

First, let's look at the workshop environment itself. Both natural and electric lighting should be sufficiently bright; position your main work area near natural light if possible and certainly under direct and bright electric lighting.  Be aware that fluorescent lighting can cause a stroboscopic effect with the attendant risk of moving parts appearing stationary. Cables and extension cords should be organised and kept out of the way and the work area should be cleaned away at the end of each woodcarving or woodturning session. Even seemingly innocuous turning and woodcarving tools can be dangerous in untrained hands.

Dealing with dust in the workshop is absolutely paramount when it comes to maintaining a safe environment which won't damage your health as inhaling airborne dust can cause respiratory problems and even lead to cancer, allergenic reactions and other ills.Windows which can be opened for ventilation are helpful, but the average workshop with windows will still require a dust extraction system. CamVac manufactures excellent dust extraction units, available from The ToolPost, which are affordable and highly effective at improving air quality in the workshop. Respiratory protection is similarly important. A dust mask can help, but powered respirators such as the JSP PowerCap and Trend Airshield  provide a higher level of protection.

Wearing protective clothing not only keeps your everyday clothes from getting ruined from endless hours spent at the woodturning lathe, but also means you don't run the risk of getting baggy clothes caught on equipment. Woodturners' smocks, also available from The ToolPost, come with useful details such as Velcro wrist closures to keep wood shavings out. Suitable protective footwear should also be worn, to protect feet should any tools get dropped. Eye protection is a must - safety goggles or a visor with side protection protects your eyes and face from flying wood fragments. Ear protection should not be forgotten given the increasing number of power tools used in woodcarving and turning.

Finally, the other potentially hazardous features of a workshop are the turning or carving tools themselves, as well as the woodturning lathe. Tool sharpening is vital not only for the efficiency of the tool, but also for its safety; a dull tool results in forced movement which can cause injury. Always read the manufacturer's manual for your woodturning lathe, including any safety tips for use. Start the lathe at the slowest speed before raising the speed to the desired level and never leave it unattended when it is on. Continue to check on the alignment and operation of your woodturning lathe throughout its life to ensure its ongoing safety.

Finally, keep all distractions out of the workshop and always keep a first aid box and fire extinguisher to hand. Take a look at the full range of health and safety equipment and accessories at The ToolPost website:


Editor's Note: The ToolPost is represented by the digital marketing specialists and SEO provider Jumping Spider Media. Please direct all press queries to Louise Byrne. Email: or call: +44 (0)20 3070 1959 / +34 952 783 637.

1997-2010 P. Hemsley.  The information on this website is the copyright property of Peter Hemsley.  Coeur du Bois and The ToolPost are trading styles of Peter Hemsley.  Whilst reasonable efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of information presented, no liability can be accepted for errors in this information nor for contingencies arising therefrom.  If you are inexperienced in any aspect of woodworking, we would strongly counsel that you take a course of formal instruction before commencing to practice