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WoodLab 101

General Safety Requirements


  • Safety glasses (provided)

  • Closed-toed shoes

  • Remove dangling jewelry

  • Tie back long hair


  • Hearing protection (provided)

  • Particle filter mask or dust mask


Review Safety Procedures

  • Minors 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult who has taken the class

  • Hand out the following: earplugs, safety glasses, respirator (optional)

  • Reiterate that participants must have closed toed shoes

  • All loose or dangly items must be secured and tucked in (i.e. drawstrings, shirt tails, sleeves tucked in)

  • Long hair must be tied back

  • Point out the following safety equipment:

    • Fire extinguisher (mounted near bathrooms)

    • First aid kits located at front desk

Woodshop Orientation

Basic Shop Layout

  • Sanding booth

  • Cubbies

  • Communal Use Areas/Tools:

    • Tables with locking wheels

    • Hand and power tools

  • Private studios

  • Wood storage

  • Waste streams:  garbage vs. green wood vs. composites all separate

  • Sawdust treatment and disposal

  • How to keep things tidy - leave any areas you use BETTER than you found them

  • PPE, bits and other consumable available at front

Review General Safety Guidelines

  • Remind students about safety gear required (safety glasses, closed toed shoes, hearing protection, no loose clothing)

  • Hands are never close to cutting/drilling/turning mechanisms

  • ALWAYS unplug a tool before servicing it/ changing bits or blades

  • In most cases, blade/bit should reach full speed before touching material

  • Ensure participants turn tool off before passing off to next person

  • Point out location of eyewash station


For each tool, explain:

  • Tool Name

  • What it’s used for/purpose

  • Parts: on/off switch, etc

  • Important safety guidelines/WAYS IT CAN HURT YOU

  • Dry demo - show mechanism with tool off

  • True demo on a test piece

  • Everyone in class gives a test run (optional for experienced class members)

Hand Tools

  • Discuss using shared tools vs bringing your own tools 9:45 am - 9:50 (5 min)

  • Show students the following:

    • Saws

    • Rulers

    • Drill bits

    • Sandpaper (can buy at ML)

  • Start hand tool tutorial

1. Drill

  • What it’s used for:

    • Impact drill - drives screws only

    • Chuck drill - drives screws and accepts drilling bits

  • Parts: Batteries, chargers, clutch on the back (adjusts drilling force), how to change bits

  • Important safety guidelines:

    • Hold down material - can spin!

    • Keep hands away from end of drill in case it falls off screw

    • Nail in top of screw to start

  • Instructor demo, then student demo

2. Airstrike nail gun

  • What it’s used for: Drives very fine nails, useful for supporting furniture glue ups (don’t last very long on their own)

  • Parts: Batteries, chargers, cartridge, nails

  • Important safety guidelines:

    • Light means it’s on

    • Review of safety and loading nails

    • Must be pressed against material to fire nail

    • If it jams, REMOVE BATTERY and open cartridge to check

  • Instructor demo, then student demo

3. Biscuit Joiner

  • What it’s used for: Increases strength of glued joints

  • Parts: Various settings, blade, trigger, biscuits (various sizes)

  • Important safety guidelines:

    • Secure piece to table with clamps

    • Keep hand clear of blade forward motion

    • Hook up a shop vac to the out tube

    • Red notch on side sets number closest to biscuit size

    • How to line up on wood (“witness marks”)

  • Instructor demo, then student demo

4. Hand Router

  • What it’s used for: cutting and edging

  • Parts: housing, switches, bit-changing wrenches

    • Bits:

      • Ball bearing - follows edge

      • No bearing - lets you cut into/through material

      • How to change bits -unplug!  remove guide, use red button to stop spindle from turning, then use wrench to unscrew and tighten collet

  • Important safety guidelines:

    • Secure piece to table with clamps

    • Keep hand clear of bit!!

    • Shallow passes

    • Never start with bit touching piece

    • Conventional vs. climb cuts (conventional is safer and usually preferred)

  • Instructor demo, then student demo

5. Sanding Tools

  • What it’s used for: smoothing

  • Parts: palm sander, belt sander, standing belt sander

  • Important safety guidelines:

    • Dust extraction

    • How to avoid piece flying away

    • Keep hands clear!

  • Instructor demo, then student demo

Power Tools

Tell students about tools that they will learn about in class: Mitre saw, Panel saw, Bandsaw, Table saw, Belt sander, Spindle sander

1. Panel Saw

  • What it’s used for?

    • Rough-cutting sheet material

    • Can change cut directions to cut vertically and horizontally

  • Parts: feed rollers/tracks, saw tracks, saw housing, indexing pins, shopvac hookup

  • Important safety guidelines:

    • Shopvac hookup?

    • Start saw near material, allow to reach full speed before cutting

    • Allow saw to stop spinning before bringing back up into start position

    • Piece must be big enough to span saw's track area (and be supported on either side) - e.g. minimum width = 18"

    • Fingers never within 6” of the blade

    • When rotating to set up a horiz. (rip) cut, ensure material gets fed in correct direction (against saw direction)

  • Instructor demo, then student demo

2. Chop (Mitre) Saw

  • What it’s used for: cutting long, thin pieces into shorter lengths (no metal)

  • Parts: table, blade, guides, how to move guides

  • Important safety guidelines:

    • Start saw in back position

    • Allow saw to stop spinning before letting it fall back into start position

    • Never cross hands in front of blade

    • Fingers never within 6” of blade

    • Kickback zone = back

    • How to cut a deeper piece of wood - pull saw out (lift little lever)

    • Angle cuts

      • saw tilts - make sure it won’t hit guides!!

      • lever to turn bed and saw left or right

  • Instructor demo, then student demo

3. Drill Press

  • What it’s used for: drilling in metal and wood

  • Parts: bits, chuck

  • Important safety guidelines:

    • Secure piece to table with clamps

    • Keep hand clear of bit!!

    • Stop if smoking

    • Never start with bit touching piece

  • Instructor demo, then student demo

4. Router Table

  • What it’s used for: holds router upside down, easier for doing longer edges (has guides)

  • Parts: router attached, guides, fence,

  • Important safety guidelines:

    • Ensure router is secure!

    • See hand router

    • How to adjust fence

    • How to change bit

    • How to adjust router depth

    • Move from right to left

  • Instructor demo, then student demo

5. Table Saw

  • What it’s used for: long cuts on flat pieces

  • Parts: blade, sawstop, fence, dust extractor - check it’s actually plugged in!

  • Important safety guidelines :

    • Use push stick for closer cuts

    • Ask for help if cutting sheets

    • SawStop and how it works, what it costs, what sets it off (including metal tape and wet wood, carbon burns on laser cut wood- anything that conducts!)
      $250 fee if you trigger it

    • Don’t use fence and mitre gauge

    • Dust extractor

    • Make sure ceramic guides aren’t touching blade!

  • Instructor demo, then student demo


Consumables: We have them (screws, drill bits, etc.) but do not assume they will always be available for use/in good condition, as they are shared by everyone.  We have some nicer bits available for $5 rental fee

Triggering a saw stop is $250