Houston Makerspace

General & Wood Shop Safety

Manual & Procedures


An important part of your experience at the Houston Makerspace will be learning to follow practices and procedures that will prevent injuries to YOURSELF and OTHERS. Pay close attention to these instructions and the orientation given to you. Study the directions given in this manual for using tools, machines, and various workstations. As you learn to use them the correct way, you’ll also learn to use them the safe way.


Develop a good attitude toward safety. This means that you have a strong feeling toward the importance of safety and are willing to give time and attention to learning the safest way to perform your work. It means that you will be certain to work carefully and follow the rules – even when no one is watching you. A safe attitude will protect you and others.


Carefully study the safety rules that follow. Staff may also recommend some additional rules. If you follow the rules and directions carefully, many of them will soon become safety habits that you will perform almost automatically.




● TRAINING. All members need to be trained in basic shop safety, tool use, and project planning. All members need to be trained on specific tools prior to working with them, or demonstrate their understanding to staff. Only members who have been trained in proper maintenance procedures are allowed to maintain machinery (change oil, blades, belts, cutting heads, etc.).

● DRESS. Dress properly for your work. Remove coats and jackets, and roll up loose sleeves. Wear proper footwear (no open toed shoes, no flip flops or sandals). Secure long hair, jewelry, or any other item on your person that could cause you to become caught in a machine or tool.

● DRUGS & ALCOHOL. The use of any tool, equipment, or workstation after consuming drugs or alcohol is explicitly prohibited. Violating this rule will result in immediate termination of membership from the Houston Makerspace.

● CLEAN HANDS. Keep your hands clean and free of oil or grease. You will do better and safer work, and the tools and your project will stay in good condition.

● CONSIDERATION OF OTHERS. Be thoughtful and helpful toward other members in the Makerspace. Be sure that the work you are doing does not endanger someone else. Caution other members if they are violating a safety rule.

·    CLEAN WORK AREA.  Where available, use dust collection on woodworking tools. In all cases, keep the area reasonably clean of sawdust.  Periodically, stop to clean up any excessive amounts of sawdust.  Also, when you have completed the use of a tool or work area, check around and clean the area, so the next person does not have to clean up after you.

● TOOL SELECTION. Select the proper size and type of tool for your work. An expert never uses a tool unless it is sharp and in good condition. Inform staff if tools are broken, have loose handles, or need adjustments.

● CARRYING TOOLS. Keep sharp-edged and pointed tools turned down. Do not swing or raise your arms over your head while carrying tools. Carry only a few tools at one time, unless they are in a special holder. Do not carry sharp tools in the pocket of your clothes.

● CLAMPING STOCK. Whenever possible, mount the work in a vise, clamp, or special holder. This is especially important when using chisels, gouges, or portable electric tools.

● USING TOOLS. Hold a tool in the correct position while using it. Most edged tools should be held in both hands with the cutting motion away from yourself and other members. Be careful when using your hand or fingers as a guide to start a cut. Always cut away from yourself. Test the sharpness of a tool with a strip of paper or a scrap or wood. DO NOT USE YOUR FINGERS.

● WORKING SPEED. Do not “rush and tear” through your work. The good craftsworker knows that a steady, unhurried pace is safest and produces the best work.

·      DON’T FORCE TOOLS. Let the tool do the work. If you feel the need to put significant effort into making a cut or any other function, the tool may be dull, or need alignment. Forcing the tool will lead to damage and possible injury.

·      REPORT ANY UNUSUAL SOUNDS, SIGHTS, OR SMELLS. If a tool appears to be making unusual sounds, or if it otherwise seems out of line, report it immediately to HMS. 

·      ASK IF YOU NEED HELP. If you are unsure how to use a tool, or how to complete a given process, ask for help. .

● BENCH ORGANIZATION. Keep your project materials carefully organized on your bench with tools located near the center. Do not pile tools on top of each other. Never allow edged or pointed tools to extend out over the edge of the bench. Close your vise when it is not in use and see that the handle is turned down. Keep drawers and cabinet doors closed.

● FLOOR SAFETY. The floor should be clear of scrap blocks and excessive litter. Keep projects, sawhorses, and other equipment and materials you are using out of traffic lanes. Immediately wipe up any liquids spilled on the floor.

● PROJECT STORAGE. Store and stack your project work carefully in assigned areas. If the storage is overhead, be sure the material will not fall off. Straighten the lumber rack when you remove a board. Do not leave narrow strips protruding from the end of the storage rack, especially at or near eye level.

● LIFTING. Protect your back muscles when lifting heavy objects. Have someone help you. Lift with your arm and leg muscles. Secure help with long boards, even if they are not heavy.

● FIRE PROTECTION. Many finishing materials, thinners, etc. are highly flammable. Others are toxic. Because of this, it is important that these materials be used only in approved areas. In addition, close cans of finishing materials and thinners immediately after use. Use flammable liquids in very small quantities. Be sure the container is labeled. Dispose of oily rags and other combustible materials immediately, or store them in an approved container. ALL HAZARDOUS MATERIALS AND LIQUIDS ARE TO BE STORED IN THE HAZMAT CABINET.

● FIRST AID. A first aid kit is provided for members in both the lobby and wood shop.

● ACCIDENTS & INJURIES. Report all accidents injuries even though slight, to staff.




The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is vital to the health and safety of members. The required personal protective equipment will depend on the operation. Staff should be consulted if a member is unsure of the required PPE. Many of these items are available to members at the makerspace for free or a small fee.


● EYE PROTECTION. Wear safety glasses or a face shield when doing any operation, observing another member, or any other task that may endanger your eyes. Be sure you have enough good light to see what you are doing without straining your eyes. SAFETY GLASSES ARE REQUIRED AT ALL TIMES IN THE WOOD SHOP.

● CONTACT LENSES. Contact lenses may be worn in the makerspace. Each individual shall make the decision whether to wear contact lenses based on the procedure being performed.

● GLOVES. The use of gloves will be dictated by the particular operation. Refer to specific procedure training documentation or equipment manual to determine if gloves are required, and what type of glove is best suited for the task. As a general rule, gloves should NOT be worn while using power tools.

● RESPIRATORY PROTECTION. In any procedure that results in the creation of fine dust (sanding, cutting of masonry or painted wood (potential exposure to silicates and heavy metal dust.), spray finishing, etc.), some form of respiratory protection is suggested. At minimum, dust masks should be N95 NIOSH approved. The use of Powered Air Purifying Respirators, Airline or Self Contained Breathing Apparatuses may be used with permission from staff.

● EAR PROTECTION. In any procedure in which generates loud noises hearing protection is highly suggested. Either/both headphone style hearing protection and earplugs may be used. However, while working in the woodshop, it is not permitted to use earbuds, or other devices to play music or other recorded (or broadcast) material.  



● New lumber is always preferred over reclaimed materials.

● RECLAIMED OR RECYCLED WOOD. All bark shall be removed prior to any tooling, wood must be properly dry, and checked to assure it is free of any metal (such as nails) that may damage the tools, equipment, or other members, and the wood should be checked to see that it is free of paint. If lead paint is present, contact HMS PRIOR to working with the material, so appropriate health and safety measures can be considered.

·      SPECIAL PREP WORK FOR RECLAIMED/RECYCLED WOOD. In addition to comments above, reclaimed / recycled wood may require special additional care to assure safe handling.  For example, there may be splits, large splinters, cracks, or voids that need to be removed, or treated, so that the material is safe to use, and to reduce the risk of damage or injury. 

● All materials brought into, donated, or used in the space should be safe, while posing no risk to equipment or other members.




Modern power woodworking machines can save large amounts of time. Learning how to use them safely will be an important part of your experience in the shop. Before operating any power tool or machine you must be oriented on how the equipment functions and works, while being completely familiar how to operate it safely. As you learn to use a machine the correct way, you will also be learning to use it the safe way.


Study and know the procedures outlined in the following chapters carefully. Pay close attention to the demonstrations and directions given by your orientation provider. Know and understand the following general safety rules that apply to power machine operation. You must also learn the specific safety rules that apply to each machine. If for any reason you forget how to operate a machine refer to this manual and ask for help!


1. Wear appropriate clothing. Remove coats or jackets, and roll up loose sleeves.

2. You must be wide awake and alert. Never operate a machine when you are tired or ill.

3. Think through the operation before performing it. Know what you are going to do, and what the machine will do.

4. Make all the necessary adjustments before turning on the machine. Some adjustments on certain machines will require the shop hand, director, or orientator approval.

5. Never remove or adjust a safety guard without permission.

6. Use approved push sticks, push blocks, feather boards, and other safety devices. Some operations may require the use of a special jig or fixture.

7. Keep the machine tables and working surfaces clear of tools, stock, and project materials. Also keep the floor free of scraps and excessive litter.

8. Allow the machine to reach its full operating speed before starting to feed the work.

9. Feed the work carefully and only as fast as the machine will easily cut.

10. Maintain the MARGIN OF SAFETY specified for the machine. This is the minimum distance your hands should ever come to the cutting tool while in operation.

11. If a machine is dull, out of adjustment, or not working properly, shut off the power immediately and inform staff.

12. When you are operating the machine, you are the only one to control it. Start and stop the machine yourself. If someone is helping you, be sure they understand that they are expected to know what to do and how to do it.

13. Do not allow your attention to be distracted while operating a machine. Also, be certain that you do not distract the attention of other machine operators.

14. Stay clear of machines being operated by other members. See that other members are “out of the way” when you are operating a machine.

15. When you have completed an operation on a machine, shut off the power. Wait until it stops before leaving the machine or setting up another cut. Never leave a machine running while unattended.

16. Machines should not be used for trivial operations, especially on small pieces of stock.

17. Do not play with machines.

18. Do not “crowd around” or wait in line to use a machine. Ask the present operator to inform you at your workstation when finished. Common standards of courtesy may slow you down, but they will make the shop a safer and more pleasant place to work.

19. Always unplug tools, equipment, and/or machines before making any adjustments.

20. Large/long stock may need additional support in the form of infeed or outfeed tables. DO NOT attempt to use power tools on large/long stock without proper support.

21. If any machine exhibits unusual sounds, smells, etc. turn it off, unplug it, and notify a staff member immediately so that it can be evaluated.   




Jointer / Grizzly GO490X


General Purpose

·      Usually the first step in milling / flattening rough wood.

Basic Operation

·      Before turning on the machine, make adjustments for depth of cut and position of fence.

·      Feed the work so the knives will cut “with the grain.”

·      Use only new stock that is free of knots, splits, and checks.

·      Move wood slowly and smoothly across the bed while jointing, for best results


·      Never adjust the left side outfeed bed or remove the guard

Size Parameters

·      The maximum cut for jointing an edge is 1/8 in.; for a flat surface, 1/16 in

·      Stock must be at least 3/8 in. thick, unless a special feather board is used

·      DO NOT joint any wood shorter than 14” long

·      Long pieces need infeed/outfeed support

Guards and Safety Equipment

·      Infeed/outfeed support for long pieces

·      Use push blocks, sticks or pads when “face jointing”

o   These are optional when edge jointing, if hands remain above the top of the fence.

·      Always keep hands away from cutter head

o   It is a good idea to “dry run” prior to actually turning machine on

Special Operations

·      If wood is badly warped, special preparation may be required.

o   Do not joint severely warped or twisted wood





Planer (aka “Thickness Planer”) / Delta DC380


General Purpose

·      Flattens wood

·      “Thickness planing” means to plane wood to a precise thickness

o   Often used to get multiple strips of wood the exact same thickness prior to glue up.

·      Often this is the second step in milling rough wood.

Basic Operation

·      Plane with the grain, or at a slight angle with the grain. Never attempt to plane cross grain

·      Surface only new lumber that is free of loose knots and serious defects

·      Adjust the machine to the correct thickness of cut before turning on the power.  Do not remove more than 1/16” per pass.

·      Stand to one side of the work being fed through the machine

·      Handle and hold the stock only in an area beyond the ends of the table


·      Cutting depth is adjusted by turning the handle.

·      Power feeder has 2 speeds.

o   Generally, use slowest speed for smoothest results

o   Only adjust when machine is turned “on”.

Size Parameters

  • Minimum length: 14 inches
  • Remove no more than 1/16” per pass


Guards and Safety Equipment

  • Do not remove any guards unless permitted by a member of the staff
  • Do not look into the throat of the planer while it is running




Table Saw / Saw Stop Industrial Cabinet Saw

Note: We will not review the Sliding Table saw.  Users must have special permission to use the sliding table saw.

General Purpose

·      Extremely versatile machine for many types of straight cuts including:

o   Rip cuts

o   Cross cut

o   Dado cuts

Basic Operation

  • Set the blade so it extends about ¼ in. above the stock to be cut
  • Stock should be surfaced, with at least one edge jointed before being cut on the saw
    • Use only new stock that is free of knots, twist, splits, and warp


Table saw (Continued)

  • The stock must be guided either by the fence or the miter gauge
    • or other similar support (such as a cross cut sled)
    • Be sure wood is flush with the fence (or other guides) prior to beginning the cut
      • Maintain flush contact throughout the cut
  • Stand to side of the operating blade and do not reach across it.
  • Maintain a 4 in. margin of safety.
    • Generally speaking, the miter slots serve as a good guide for margin of safety
  • Feed stock at a steady, even speed.
    • “Finish the cut” (push wood past the blade completely before stopping)
  • As you complete your work, turn off the machine and remain until the blade has stopped
  • Note the “Off Switch”
    • Can be stopped by bumping it with left leg
    • This is a safety feature, but you may also accidentally stop the saw if you bump it without meaning to.
  • Do not let small scrap cuttings accumulate around the saw blade. Use a push stick to move them away
  • Clear the saw table and place waste cuttings in the scrap box.
  • If your work requires that the saw blade be set to any angle other than 90 degrees, be sure to return the blade to 90 degree when you are complete with your session


  • Never make adjustments with the saw running

Size Parameters

  • Do not rip wood less than 18 inches long
  • Sheet goods (plywood) may need special assistance in cutting

Guards and Safety Equipment

  • Always use blade guards if the cut allows
    • Otherwise, use riving knife

Special Operations

  • When cross cutting, use the miter attachment or a cross cut sled.
    • Do not use the saw’s fence during cross cut operations
  • Special setups (including use of dado blades) must be inspected by a staff member before power is turned on
  • The dado or any special blades should be removed from the saw after use
  • A wide variety of jigs and guides are available for use with the table saw.
    • These can help with especially large or small pieces.





Power Miter Saw (aka “Chop Saw”) / Dewalt DW716


General Purpose

  • Makes cross cuts in wood
  • Makes it possible to make a number of repeated cuts at the same length
  • Can cut wood at an angle
  • Is NOT used for rip cuts


Basic Operation

  • Wood should lay flat on the saw bed, and flush against the fence
  • Maintain at least a 6 inch margin of safety. (Hands no closer than 6 inches from the cut line.)
    • The Dewalt is marked at 8 inches
  • Wood should be well supported to keep in from moving when cut
  • Squeeze the switch to turn the saw on.
    • Leave the saw in the “up” position to turn it on: the head will jerk as it turns on
    • Allow  blade to come up to speed prior to lowering it into your cut
  • Lower blade slowly to engage the wood.
  • Continue all the way through the wood until the cut is complete.
  • Leave the saw in the down position and release the switch
  • Allow saw to come to a stop before raising blade.
  • When finished, lower the saw and lock it into place
  • Clean up the workstation and sweep the surrounding floor



  • The base may be adjusted to cut miters up to 50 degrees
  • The saw’s blade can be adjusted to cut bevels up to 48 degrees

Size Parameters

  • No wood shorter than 10 inches, unless properly supported
  • For thick wood, or very hard wood, back off from the cut periodically to allow the blade to come up to speed.

Guards and Safety Equipment

  • Blade guard should be left on at all times.


Overview of Jigs

  • Jigs are not commonly used, but may be used to cut small stock, or to support when needed.
  • Check with staff prior to using any jigs





Bandsaws / Craftsman, Powermatic, MiniMax

General Purpose

  • Extremely versatile saw capable of cutting straight rips, cross cuts, curves and “resawing.”
  • May be used to prep unusually shaped wood prior to cutting on other tools
    • E.g. Block of wood may be rough cut into a circle prior to turning on a lathe
    • E.g. Warped wood may be ripped to straighten prior to using jointer
  • May be used to make small joinery such as dovetails

Basic Operation

  • Wheel guard doors must be closed, and the blade properly adjusted before turning on the machine. Be sure to use the proper blade for the cut: as a general rule, smaller stock, or tighter cuts should be done on the smaller saws and thinner blades
  • Adjust the upper guide assembly so it is ¼ in. above the work.
  • Allow the saw to reach full speed before feeding the work.
  • The stock must be held flat on the table.
  • Feed the saw only as fast as the teeth can easily remove the wood.
  • Maintain a 2 in. margin of safety.
  • Plan saw cuts to avoid backing out of curves whenever possible.
  • Make turns carefully and do not cut radii so small that the blade is twisted.
  • Stop the machine before backing out of a long, curved cut.
  • Round stock should not be cut unless mounted securely in a jig or hand screw.
  • Turn off the machine as soon as you have finished your work. If the machine has a brake, apply it smoothly. Do not leave the machine until it has stopped running.


  • Upper blade guide assembly
  • Guide bearings
    • Must be close – but not touching – blade
  • Blade tension
    • Should be tense, but not tight
      • Blade should only “deflect” slightly when pushed from the front using index finger
    • Overly loose, or tight, blades are dangerous and will wear out more quickly
  • If unsure, check with a staff member about any saw adjustments or settings PRIOR to using the saw

Size Parameters

  • Generally, smaller stock, or tighter cuts should be done on the smaller saws.
    • Smaller blade and finer teeth will result in smoother cut
    • Larger saws are used for straighter cuts in very thick wood, or for resawing.

Guards and Safety Equipment

  • Upper blade guide assembly – set at ¼” above the top of the wood being cut
    • Protection from the blade
    • Bearings provide support to blade

Special Operations

  • Resawing wood requires special training, procedures, and possibly auxiliary fences and/or a special blade.
  • Only specially trained members may resaw wood



Jig Saw (aka “Scroll Saw” / Dewalt DW788


General Purpose

  • Very fine detail work
  • Can cut very tight curves

Basic Operation

  • Check that the blade is properly installed.
    • Vertical position with the teeth pointing down
  • Assure the hold-down is adjusted to keep work from being lifted on the upstroke
  • Place wood flat on the table, and guide the wood into the saw blade.
  • Maintain safe distance from the blade (at least 2 inches)


  • Blade tension can be adjusted to keep it tight (lever near top/front)
  • Speed adjustment (dial)
    • Can be slowed for tighter curves

Guards and Safety Equipment

·      The hold-down also serves as a guard to keep fingers away from the blade.


Drill Press/ Grizzly G7944


General Purpose

  • General purpose drilling
  • Drilling to precise depth or angles, or when multiple holes need to be drilled to exact same depth
  • Can use larger drill bits than a hand-held drill
  • Can drill metals (with proper bit and drill speed)


Basic Operation

  • Check the speed setting to see that it is correct for your work. Holes over ½ in. should be bored at the lowest speed.
  • Use only an approved type of bit. Bits with feed screws or those with excessive length should not be used.
  • If a slower / faster speed is required, open the drill press top, and adjust the pulleys as required.
    • If you are not sure how to change the speed, ask for assistance.
  • Mount the bit securely to the full depth of the chuck and in the center. Remove the key immediately.
  • Position the table and adjust the feed stroke so there is no chance of the bit hitting the table.
  • The work should be placed on a wood pad - or auxiliary table - when the holes are drilled all the way through.
  • Work that will be held by hand should be center punched
  • Small or irregular shaped pieces must be clamped to the table or held in some special fixture.

Drill Press (Continued)

  • Feed the bit smoothly into the work. When the hole is deep, withdraw the bit frequently to clear the shavings and cool the bit.



  • Drill speed is controlled by adjusting pulleys found under the belt cover.
    • Ask a staff member for assistance, if needed.
  • The drill press has an available “depth stop” to limit the depth of the drill.
    • the depth stop is on the left side of the drill head.
      • Set “depth nut” to desired stop.
      • Then lower the “lock nut” until it contacts the depth nut. Tighten them.


Size Parameters

  • Small pieces (less than 6 inches) may need special clamping or jigs to safely hold
  • If hands must be placed closer than 2 inches to the drill bit, the piece must be clamped
  • Large drill bits (see below) cause significant torque, requiring the piece to be clamped.
    • Large bits include anything listed below:
      • For twist, brad point, and spiral bits: anything larger than ½”
      • All forstner or spade bits, hole saws, tenon cutters or rosette cutters.

Guards and Safety Equipment

  • Use a fence for anything that must be clamped

Overview of Jigs

  • Auxiliary tables provide many benefits including:
    • Larger work surface, fence to secure work, protection for “through holes”, repeatable drilling, and better control

Special Operations

  • Obtain staff input prior to attempting any of the operations listed below:

o   Special clamping setups, hole saw or fly cutter, drill bits not provided by Houston Makerspace


Stationary Sanders / Multiple

We have several sanding machines at Houston Makerspace. These comments are generally applicable.

General Purpose

  • Smoothes wood surfaces, but NOT used to shape wood.
  • Coarser grits remove rough wood surfaces such as tool marks; finer grits prepare wood for final finish.


Basic Operation

  • Be certain the belt or disc is correctly mounted.
    • The belt must track in the center of the drums and platen.
    • Do not operate the disc sander if the abrasive paper is loose.

Stationary Sanders (Continued)

  • Check the guards and table adjustments to see that they are in the correct position and locked securely in place.
  • Use the table, fence, and other guides to control the position of the work, whenever possible.
  • Small or irregular-shaped pieces should be held in a hand clamp, or a special jig or fixture.
  • When sanding the end grain of narrow pieces on the belt sander, always support the work against the table.
  • Sand only on the side of the disc sander that is moving toward the table. Move work along this surface so it will not burn.
    • Use the table for support
  • Always use a pad or push block when sanding thin pieces on the belt sander.
  • Do not use power sanders to form and shape parts when the operations could be better performed on other machines.
  • Sand only clean new wood. Do not sand work that has excess glue or finish on the surface. These materials will load and foul the abrasive.




Wood Lathes  / Laguna MLA 0230-175, Myford ML8


General Purpose

  • Most commonly used to make cylindrical or bowl shaped items. For example:
    • Table legs
    • Bowls

Basic Operation

  • Before starting the machine, be sure that spindle work has the cup center properly imbedded, tailstock and tool rest securely clamped, and proper clearance for the rotating stock.
  • Use the correct chisel for the work being performed.
  • Before starting the machine for faceplate work, check to see that the faceplate is tight against the spindle shoulder and the tool support has proper clearance.
  • Wear goggles or a face shield to protect your eyes, especially when roughing out work. The lathe should have a guard.
  • Select turning speed carefully. Large diameters must be turned at the lowest speed. Always use the lowest speed to rough out work.
  • Wood with knots and splits should not be turned. Glued-up stock should cure the proper amount of time – at least 24 hours.
  • Keep the tool rest close to the work.
  • Remove the tool rest for sanding and polishing operations.
  • Use a scraping cut for all faceplate work.
  • Remove both the spur and cup centers when they are not in use.
  • When you stop the lathe to check your work, also check and lubricate the cup center.
  • Keep the lathe tools sharp, hold them firmly and in the proper position.

Guards and Safety Equipment

  • Tool rest must be used whenever using a chisel
  • Goggles or faceshield

Overview of Jigs

  • Any use of jigs should be discussed with staff prior to use.

Special Operations

  • Rough stock must be turned at slowest possible speed until surface is smooth






Saber Saws aka Reciprocating saw, aka Sawzall

1. Make certain the saw is properly grounded through the electrical cord.

2. Select the correct blade for your work and be sure it is properly mounted.

3. Disconnect the saw to change blades or make adjustments.

4. Place the base of the saw firmly on the stock before starting the cut.

5. Turn on the motor before the blade contacts the work.

6. Do not attempt to cut curves so sharp that the blade will be twisted. Follow procedures described for band saw operation.

7. Make certain the work is well supported. Do not cut into sawhorses or other supports.

8. If the blade is bend, notify HMS staff. DO NOT attempt to use a saw with a bent blade, nor should you attempt to straighten a saw blade that has already been bent.




Circular Saws

1. Stock must be supported in such a way that the kerf will not close and bind the blade during the cut or at the end of the cut.

2. Thin materials should be supported on benches. Small pieces should be clamped in a vise or onto a bench top or sawhorse.

3. Be careful not to cut into the bench, sawhorse, or other supporting devices.

4. Adjust the depth of cut to the thickness of the stock, and add about 1/8 in.

5. Check the base and angle adjustment to be sure they are tight. Plug in the cord to a grounded outlet and be sure it will not become fouled in the work.

6. Always place the saw base on the stock, with the blade clear, before turning on the switch.

7. During the cut, stand to one side of the cutting line, to avoid injury in the event of kickback.

8. Large saws will have two handles. Keep both hands on them during the cutting operation. Small saws should also be guided with both hands when possible.

9. Always unplug the machine to change blades or make major adjustments.

10. Always use a sharp blade with plenty of set.






Portable Electric Drills

1. Select the correct drill or bit. Mount it securely to the full depth of the chuck.

2. When drilling completely through a piece of wood, either clamp a scrap piece under work to prevent splintering the underside, or drill from both sides. Be sure that the drill bit does NOT penetrate into the bench top.

3. Stock to be drilled must be held in a stationary position so it cannot be moved during the operation.

4. Connect the drill to a properly grounded outlet.

5. Turn on the switch for a moment to see if the bit is properly centered and running true.

6. With the switch off, place the point of the bit in the punched layout hole.

7. Hold the drill firmly in one or both hands and at the correct drilling angle.

8. Turn on the switch and feed the drill into the work. The pressure required will vary with

the size of the drill and the kind of wood.

9. During the operation, keep the drill aligned with the direction of the hole.

10. When drilling deep holes, especially with a twist drill, withdraw the drill several times to

clear the shavings.

11. Follow the same precautions and procedures as when drilling holes with the drill press.



Angle Grinder

1. Wear a face shield AND safety glasses.

2. When using the tool for sanding move the tool around the stock. Do not leave it in one place.

3. Do not grind metal in the wood shop.

4. Never remove the guard. It can be rotated for optimum positioning.

5. Always use the auxiliary handle for maximum control over torque reaction and kickback.

6. Secure the work properly on the workbench. Adjust your work to a comfortable height.

7. When carving with the carving attachment for the angle grinder, exercise great care.

8. Grip the tool with both hands at all times.



Die Grinder aka “Dremmel”

1. Keep away from rotating spindle and accessory.

2. Use accessories that are rated for the Die Grinder only.

3. Keep hands clear of spindle and tool end.

4. Use both hands to hold tool.

5. Be aware of excess hose on the floor, tripping is a hazard.






1. Wear safety glasses when applying finishing materials.

2. Wear rubber gloves, goggles, and rubber apron when applying bleaches and acids.

3. Thinners and reducers such as naphtha, benzene, lacquer thinner, and enamel reducer should be applied in a well-ventilated room. Fumes have a toxic effect.

4. Store all chemicals and soiled rags in proper safe containers. Many chemicals and rags are highly flammable. Soiled rags WILL CATCH FIRE (spontaneous combustion) if improperly disposed, and soiled rags must ALWAYS be disposed of safely and in accordance with shop rules. If you have soiled rags, and are not sure how to dispose, YOU MUST ASK a member of HMS for assistance.

5. Wear and approved respirator for finishing operations that involve the use of toxic chemicals such as lacquer thinner and enamel reducer.

6. Spraying should be performed in a well-ventilated booth or outside to reduce toxic fumes.

7. Wash your hands well after applying a finish in order to remove any toxic materials that you have handled.

8. Know where the sink, shower, or eyewash station is located in the event you are burned by a finishing material.

9. Provide an approved fire extinguisher in the finishing area.

10. Refer to “FIRE PROTECTION” (General Safety Rules).





● TOOL ACQUISITION. No member will purchase and donate a tool for the Makerspace without first discussing options with staff. When new tools are procured, all attempts should be made to purchase tools with advanced safety features.


● TOOL MAINTENANCE. If a tool breaks or malfunctions, notify a supervisor immediately. Only authorized members are allowed to perform tool maintenance or adjustment. Tools must be unplugged/locked out prior to the start of any maintenance.  Report any tool that seems to need maintenance (e.g. dull blades, unusual sounds, adjustable components not working properly). 



Copyright Houston Makerspace, LLC 2013.  Background images by Marisa Brodie and Alex Barber.