Safety Tips for Woodturning
Wood-turning is another form of woodworking that has come along way since it's inception when the Egyptians first started with a two person lathe. Back then, one person would spin the wood using ropes and another person would hold the cutting tool carving designs as the wood would turn. During the industrial revolution it was motorized which greatly increased the speed of rotation making it easier and quicker to turn out completed projects. Today we have computerized lathes that are capable of mass producing identical items such as baseball bats but we still have the ones that artistic turners like to use to produce items in smaller quantities with a more personal touch.

As with any hobby, there is a lot to learn when you start using a lathe. Just learning the terminology associated with lathes such as headstock, tail stock, spindle, taper, saddle, cross feed and cross slide, just to name a few can be confusing. Then you have to decide what tools you are going to need, scrapers, gouges, parting tools, bowl gouges are a some of the common chisel types available. Before you decide on the tools or start learning the terminology, you need a lathe. Decide exactly what you would like to do before you purchase your lathe. There are small lathes that can be bench mounted like a pen-lathe for example, which is used primarily as it's name suggest to turn pens, they are lightweight and easier to move around then the larger floor mounted models that are available. I just recently was fortunate enough to see a pen that had been turn using deer horns, beautiful. The three basic types of are engine lathes, turret lathes, which is a form of a metal working lathe and special purpose lathes. Which ever model you choose, be willing to take the time needed to properly learn the safe, proper way to use it, maintain it and to keep your tools sharp.
 Because your wood can be turning at a high-speed, safety is a very important factor. Here are some safety tips:
  • Always were protective Eye wear, a good quality pair of safety glasses or a full face shield would even be better.
  • Don't wear loose fitting clothing ( if you wear long sleeves, roll them up above your elbows) . Don't wear any dangling jewelry, even long hair that is not properly tied back or covered can get caught in the spinning lathe.
  • As with any machine that has moving parts, stop it before you make any adjustments or measurements
  • Be sure your wood or material is securely fastened
  • Remove your chuck key and wrenches prior to starting your machine
  • Some dust is toxic, so wear a dust mask
  • Keep your tools sharp and handle them carefully as to not cut yourself
  • Start your lathe on a lower speed to make sure everything is secure and the guards are in place
  • Keep your eyes on your work and don't leave your lathe running unattended 

To learn how to properly use a lathe, take a class at your local school or university, join a turning club or find a turner that would be willing to share his expertise. However you learn always be careful and use common sense when operating any machine. Be creative and imaginative to create your own special works of art, but most of all, enjoy yourself.