Woodworking can be a rewarding hobby or even a livelihood, but you’ll need essential safety equipment to keep it that way. Whether you’re outfitting your very first shop or checking in and updating what you have already, you need a checklist of essentials.
We’ve put together a list of the top 11 essential pieces of safety equipment for woodworking to help ensure that you always have what you need. Keep you and any workers safe in your shop and ensure your hobby or job continues without incident.
Here’s the list of 11 essential safety equipment every woodworker should have:
- Safety Goggles
- Dust Collection
- Hearing Protection
- Hand And Foot Protection
- Fire Extinguishers
- Head protection
- Work Apron
- Push Sticks
- Proper Lighting
- First Aid Kit
Why Use Safety Equipment
A lot of things can go wrong when working with power tools. Quick mistakes can cost you dearly, but there are long term effects as well. The environment of the shop can be detrimental to your lungs and hearing over a long period of time, for example, and distractions add up.
Keeping a variety of safety equipment not only helps ensure that your shop is a safe place, but it can save you medical trouble down the road. Good habits and proper protection make a healthy shop and woodworker.
Before you go into the shop, take a moment and ensure that you’re wearing the proper safety gear and that all your other safety essentials are stocked up, within reach, and not expired. These little habits add up over time, so putting in the work upfront will help give your shop security.
Check the most important safety rules for woodshop: Essential Safety Rules for Woodshop
11 Essential Pieces of Safety Equipment
Let’s take a look at the top 11 pieces of equipment you’ll need to ensure the safety of your shop and why these pieces are so important.
01. Safety Goggles
Safety goggles are top on the list because your eyes are a vital part of your life. It only takes one errant piece of wood or metal to cause injury or blindness.
Safety glasses are affordable and fast to use. That’s why safety glasses are a must for eye protection in any woodshop.
Keeping plenty of pairs in your shop allows you and everyone working there to remain safe with minimal effort. This is step one in any shop safety policy.
02. Dust Collection
Woodworking produces a lot of dust through cutting and shaping. That dust is terrible for your respiratory health.
Without protection, you could experience lung problems over time as you spend more time breathing in the sawdust.
You’ll also need vacuums and other dust collection systems to help ensure your shop is as free of sawdust as possible from the environment itself. Dust is a trip hazard, and shavings can cause you to reach across your blade accidentally.
Keep the environment dust-free. Also, don’t forget to wear a dust mask or face shield when necessary.
03. Hearing Protection
Your ears will suffer over time from the noise of the shop. These loud noises break down your hearing and prevent your ears from aging as gracefully as they should.
Wearing hearing protection can help keep you focused while also ensuring your ears stay in top shape.
Hearing protection comes in two basic types. Earmuffs are more protective while ensuring you can still hear someone yelling, but they’re bulky.
Expanding earplugs are more comfortable but wear out over time. Choose what’s right for your individual needs.
04. Hand And Foot Protection
Carrying heavy items could cause injuries, so work boots are a must. If you’re a professional woodworker, steel-toed boots to protect your delicate toes is necessary. Home DIYers should wear stiff, close-toed shoes around the shop or woodworking project at all times.
Good work gloves are also a vital part of what you do. While some gloves are more cumbersome than others, high quality and supple work gloves can help protect your hands and skin and remind you to be careful where you put your hands.
05. Fire Extinguishers
All that wood around your shop is a fire hazard. One spark from a power tool or hitting one piece of metal accidentally, and you could have a situation on your hands. Easily accessible fire extinguishers will help ensure that no fire gets out of control.
Ensure your extinguishers are in easy view and up to code. Use several so that they’re always within reach.
06. Head protection
If you’re in a shop with other professionals or on a worksite, head protection can help ensure you aren’t surprised by any falling debris. Headgear may take some getting used to if this is your first time in the shop, but it’s an integral part of your safety.
Look for head protection that preserves your line of vision on all sides while covering your entire head. Then, remember to wear it. Always wear a transparent face shield when the situation requires.
07. Work Apron
A work apron helps contain clothing and provides basic protection for your body. Leather aprons can absorb a great deal, protecting your chest and legs from flying debris or other dangers.
When tied correctly, a leather apron also ensures that your clothing stays close to your body and away from spinning motors. You’ll have the flexibility of movement but won’t risk catching clothing in a blade or gears.
Essential power tools you must have for woodworking: Woodworking Power Tools
08. Push Sticks
This may be a strange one at first, but one of the most significant rules of safety is never to reach over your blade — ever. To ensure that your muscle memory obeys that rule, having push sticks around isn’t just handy. It’s essential.
Push sticks allow you to clear debris from the path of your blade without ever putting your hand or arm in front of it. You’ll be able to ensure an unobstructed path and ensure complete safety of your fingers.
09. Proper Lighting
LED flashlights and headlamps help you keep your line of sight open and ensure that minor slips don’t turn into big problems. Plus, if your power goes out, you won’t have to stumble around your shop looking for the exit.
Proper lighting helps you find errors, clean better, and even prevent accidents. Having good lighting will ensure that you’re ready for whatever your job throws at you.
10. First Aid Kit
A basic first aid kit can be a lifesaver in some cases.
The kit will help stop or slow bleeding, clean wounds, and handle any number of other basic life-saving acts before you drive to a hospital or while you wait for the ambulance.
No one should have access to your power tools without you there or without training. If you have children around or your shop is in an area where others may have easy access, locks on your shop help ensure that you control who can use your power tools.
A simple shop door lock is a great way to ensure that curious children don’t accidentally turn on your power tools. It also helps prevent theft or unauthorized visits from even your friends. Treat your tools with respect and keep them under lock and key.
A list of essential hand tools for beginners: Essential Hand Tools for Woodworking Beginners
Ensuring Proper Safety Conditions In Your Shop
Woodworking is a satisfying and worthy hobby or job, but having the right essential safety tools is a must. With dust, electricity, saws, sharp objects, and blunt instruments around, there are so many chances for harm. Like many other professional or DIY situations, safety is everything.
Essential safety equipment for woodworking is a good start, but you must also remember to use that equipment. It’s not enough to have safety glasses; they must go on no matter how short the job is. It only takes one piece of wood to cause serious issues.
Before you start work, make sure that all your safety equipment is in use and that everything is in place. Check things like fire extinguishers regularly to ensure they aren’t blocked by debris and change out hearing protection or safety glasses and face shield as they wear out. These little steps will go a long way to helping you stay safe.