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Safety Tips for Hand & Power Tools

Safety Tips for Hand & Power Tools

 

A great collection of tools can make any DIY task simple to do. However, if they aren't used properly, they can do a ton of damage to property or cause injury. Whether you're using hammering away at home or using power tools on the jobsite, workplace safety should always be a top priority. We've put together some essential tips so you can tackle any project with peace of mind and confidence.
 

Man in workshop with tools

Hand Saws

Before you start cutting though, it's important to keep in mind that hand saws are exceptionally sharp and are capable of causing some serious damage.

  • Choose the right saw - Remember to pick the right saw for the job you're doing. Hand saws are available in a variety of different designs and blade saw numbers that indicate the number of teeth-per-inch (TPI). By researching suggested tools for your project, you'll know if it requires a hacksaw or a rip-cut saw.
     
  • Check for maintenance issues - Before you start cutting, check that all the saw components are working properly and securely fastened. If the blade is removable, be sure that the screws or fasteners holding the blade in place are tight. The blade should be straight to prevent it from bending or breaking, and a light coating of specialty oil or motor oil will help it move smoothly as it cuts. A properly sharpened blade will also help make your job easier.
 
  • Prepare the work area - Always find a flat surface to work on, and secure your project materials to avoid slipping and wobbling as you saw. If you're repurposing materials, it's also a good idea to check for nails, screws and knots that may not have already been removed from the cutting path.
 
  • Cut correctly and confidently - When you do begin cutting, make sure to cut on the downstroke and relieve pressure on the upstroke. Run the full length of the saw for both strokes.
 
  • Proper storage is important - After you're finished cutting for the day, store your saw safely away out of the reach of children. If the blade or other components become damaged as you're using the saw, repair it or mark it clearly using a red tag or label and remove it from service until it can be repaired.
Man with a hand saw

Hammers

A hammer is a key tool to use around any home or worksite. When you're ready to start assembling your project or securing components, make safety precautions a part of your workflow by incorporating these tips.

  • Different hammers for different jobs - Choose the proper hammer for the task at hand. Make sure you're comfortable with the size and weight of the tool, and check that the striking surface is large enough so you can swing confidently and consistently.
     
Father and son hammering
  • Get a grip - Comfort is key, which is why picking the right handle is important. A cushioned handle can help make repetitive tasks more comfortable. Keep in mind that wooden or insulated handles help prevent electrical currents from traveling through the tool and into your body.
  • Avoid flying debris - If the hammer you''e using consists of more than a single component, check that all of the parts are properly secured and in good condition. Cracked handles and chipped or excessively worn heads should be repaired, replaced or thrown away.

  • Be aware of your environment and technique - Proper hammering technique can help extend the life of the tool and prevent your project materials from becoming irreparably damaged. To ensure you get the most out of your hammer and stay safe, be aware of your surroundings as you swing. Check that there's no one in your immediate vicinity, and do your best to swing accurately and squarely, keeping the striking surface properly aligned with the surface of the materials. Glancing blows, which are strikes that find the hammer at an angle to the fastener and project materials, can cause unwanted damage.


Chisels

Unless you're a woodworker, you might not use chisels quite as often as some other common hand tools, but they can be a real lifesaver if you're trying to separate project materials or chip away at a misshapen component. Put chisels and other hammered tools to good use for your next project with these tips.

  • Preparation is key - It's been said before, but it bears repeating: make sure you're using the right tool for your project. A masonry chisel is probably not going to be ideal for a woodworking project and vice versa. Having the appropriate equipment will make your work much easier and may help reduce the possibility of an accident. Double check that all the components are securely attached to one another and that the handle is comfortable to hold.
     
  • Update your chisels with accessories - Accessorize your chisel or hammered tool with a molded handguard. If your hammer misses the mark and instead head for your fingers, the guard will help soften the blow. Punches and chisels that have uncomfortable or unusable grips can be held securely with a chisel holder.

  • Conduct necessary maintenance - Check the sharpness and angle of the cutting edge. Dull edges should be sharpened and redressed to the appropriate angles, typically 60 degrees for soft metals and 70 degrees for hard metals.

  • Use proper technique - Point the chisel away from your body and stand firmly in place before swinging the mallet or hammer as accurately as possible. Secure unstable project materials and do your best to find a flat, level surface to work on. Most chisels will need to be struck with a plastic or wooden mallet, so save your steel hammer for specialty projects that require them.

  • Storage, repair and disposal - Storing your chisels away properly can extend the life of the tools and help prevent accidents when the tools aren't being used. Use protective caps for the cutting edge and wrap the tools themselves in a tool wrap or cloth. If you see any dings, cracks or other noticeable damage that could impair the usability of the chisel, repair or replace it before using it again.
     

Craftsman chisel sets

Power Tools

Power tools help you save plenty of time and energy on a project. Whether you're using a table saw or drill, there are universal safety tips you should always remember when using these types of tools.

  • Prepare your workspace - Before you even get started with your power tool, it's important to prepare your work area for optimal usability and performance. Clear away any clutter or debris that could impede your workflow. Depending on the project, do your best to find an even work surface on flat ground. Ensure that there is plenty of direct light illuminating your work environment, this can be from a natural source or a properly placed lamp or flashlight.
     
Man operating a Craftsman table saw
  • Be aware of power and safety features - When it's time to get rolling, make sure that your power tool is turned off before plugging it into an outlet. If you need to modify the settings or perform repairs while you're working, double check to make sure that the power switch is off and that the tool has been unplugged or the battery is removed.

  • Measure twice - Plan ahead to use the right tool for the job, and do any necessary measurements in advance. When you're working, move confidently and deliberately with a firm grip on the tool. Maintain a stable stance and don't overreach as this could cause you to lose your balance and control of the tool.

  • Proper storage is key - Handling and storing your tools properly at the end of a long day is just as important as how they're implemented during work hours. Remember never to handle corded power tools directly by the cord to avoid frayed and fractured wiring. Take the time to clean your tool of any dust and debris that could lead to corrosion or jam delicate components.


Workwear & Protective Equipment

While the appropriate gear can vary quite a bit from project to project, there are standard pieces of workwear and protective equipment that every craftsman should own. Whether you like to tinker with home repair projects on the weekend or need to suit up every day for long hours at the shop or on the jobsite, the following protective equipment are must-haves:

  • Form-fitting clothing - All of your workwear should fit you snugly. Any slack in the arms, torso or legs should be secured by rolling the material or using straps to hold it in place. Otherwise you run the risk of catching a piece of fabric in a wayward tool, or worse, a running machine.
 
  • Eye and face protection - Every craftsman should own a pair of safety glasses, while more involved projects may require goggles or full face shields. Even using basic hand tools can cause dust and debris to fill the air or send projectiles flying in your direction. Dense plastic materials and adjustable arms or straps will help keep your eyes and face protected as you saw, hammer, fasten materials and more.
     
  • Work gloves - Basic utility gloves will provide an extra layer of protection and insulation between your hands and project materials, making it easier to work in demanding conditions. Many work gloves are designed with specialized materials for a surer grip, breathability to keep you cooler, insulation for extra warmth, puncture resistant coatings and more. Electricians and those working near electrical devices and installations should look for electrical gloves that can help prevent burns and shocks.
 
  • Work boots - Anyone who regularly lifts heavy project materials, works around forklifts or other large machinery should own a pair of work boots. Many employers and government guidelines require steel-toe shoe options when working in certain conditions. Even if you're not stacking pallets or moving masonry materials, a high-quality pair of steel-toe boots or shoes can save you from serious foot injuries in the shop or garage.
 
  • Hearing protection - While it may not be apparent day to day, working around noisy tools and machines without proper ear protection can lead to serious and lasting damage over time. Whether you prefer disposable or reusable ear plugs or find that over-ear styles are more functional, the right hearing protection can help you stay alert and work more comfortably.
 
 
 
 
Man in workwear