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Woodworking Machine Safety Toolbox Talk

Woodworking Machine Safety

Machine shops are an integral part of the Cornell University campus. These shops support the University infrastructure, advance research operations, and are a focus for many student courses and elective activities. Woodworking machines can pose a myriad of hazards that must be taken seriously. EHS has developed these standard practices for all University woodworking machine shops. In addition, each machine shop has location-specific rules that must be observed by shop users.

General Woodworking Machine Safety

  • Always keep hands, fingers, loose clothing, long hair, and jewelry away from moving or rotating parts.
  • All equipment operators shall receive training on safe equipment operation.
  • Safety glasses shall be worn while operating all woodworking machines. Always de-energize the machine when providing maintenance, dust/chip removal, and blade adjustments.
  • Inspect all equipment and blades/bits for damage before use.
  • When powering down equipment, never attempt to stop the blade with the material. Allow the saw to completely stop on its own before leaving the workstation.
  • Appropriate point-of-operation guarding must be functional and in place at all times. Never remove the guard. If a guard is not in place or is causing interference, ask a shop supervisor to assist you.

Wood Cutting Machines

  • Appropriate chip guards, splitters, and anti-kickback devices shall be in place.
  • Always use the proper saw or blade for the materials and type of cut that needs to be done.
  • Use correct technique when cutting. Large wood pieces being cut should be supported on the sawn end by a co-worker or support stand.

Wood Sanding Machines

  • Sanding belts shall be guarded against contact on all areas except the area performing the work.
  • Do not operate sanding machines with torn, cracked, or broken belts or disks.
  • Do not sand or grind materials that have the potential to produce harmful dust or debris (beryllium/copper-beryllium alloy).
  • Work in well-ventilated areas. Use vacuums to collect dust while sanding. Wear a dust mask as needed.

Drill Presses

  • For materials that are brittle, plastic, or otherwise weak, ask the shop supervisor for guidance on proper techniques and tools.
  • Run the drill at the correct RPM for the diameter of the drill bit and material. Use the correct drill bit for the material being drilled.
  • Always hold work in a vise or clamp to the drill table. Use a backing board to support the drill when drilling through the material.
  • If the drill binds in a hole, stop the machine and turn the bit backward by hand to release it.

Wood Turning Lathes

  • When removing or installing components, never use machine power to do so.
  • Remove all chips or turnings with a tool or brush. Never remove them with a bare hand or with an air gun.
  • Use speeds that are appropriate for the material and job you are cutting.
  • Make sure that the chuck, drive plate, or faceplate is securely tightened onto the lathe spindle.
  • Always clamp the tool bit as short as possible in the tool holder to prevent it from breaking or chattering.

Please fill out the Woodworking Toolbox Talk attendance sheet upon completion.

More information, as well as safety training within CULearn, can be found on the EHS web page.