Woodworking Apparel: It’s Safety Before Fashion
When planning your workshop wardrobe, fashion should not be your top priority. Wearing the wrong type of woodworking apparel could cause accidents, especially when you use power tools. Your woodworking clothing should be comfortable to work in, yet provide the best protection possible.
When using equipment such as table saws and router cutters, you will have dust and wood particles flying around. It’s essential that you protect your eyes from being impacted by such debris. Safety goggles come in different levels of impact resistance; if you’re not sure which level would be suitable for you, choose a higher resistance than seems necessary.
Your safety goggles should also protect the side of your face (wrap-around). If you wear spectacles, select goggles that provide a good degree of ventilation, in order to prevent fogging. It is also possible to get goggles with prescription lenses.
For the utmost protection, use a full-face shield.
When performing sanding operations or working with glue, varnish and other chemicals, dust and toxic vapors are a major hazard. Dust can irritate your respiratory tract so it’s vital to use a dust mask. Your dust mask should fit snugly around your nose and mouth.
A simple dust mask with a filter will provide adequate protection for general use. When you’re using more harmful substances, you could use a full-face respirator with a cartridge that’s suitable for filtering the specific substances or particles that apply to you.
Whenever you’re handling or changing blades or cutters, it’s essential that you wear tough, protective gloves. Gloves will protect your hands from cuts and splinters as well as strengthen your grip, especially when you’re maneuvering large workpieces.
However, when you’re operating power tools and machines, be aware that gloves will reduce your level of control so avoid wearing them in such circumstances.
TIP: When you’re about to work with toxic finishes, first apply a good barrier cream to your hands, then put on your gloves.
Woodworking power tools, such as table saws and power drills, can make a lot of noise. The general rule is: if you’re using such a machine and you cannot understand normal speech from three feet away, you need to be using ear protection.
You may choose to wear headphone-style ear defenders, which are worn over your head and cover your ears. Alternatively, you might prefer wearing earplugs, which are inserted into your ears.
Any man who has spent time in a workshop will know that aprons are not just for chefs and gardeners. Many woodworkers consider a waxed canvas or leather woodworking apron to be the most important part of their woodworking apparel. If you want to protect your clothes from dirt and oil – and yourself from nicks and scratches – a work apron is a must-have item in your workshop.
A good woodworking apron will have several pockets in a variety of sizes. These will keep your hand tools easily accessible as you work on your project – a real time-saver. It will also keep sawdust from getting into your pants!
Tool Belts and Tool Vests
While a tool belt can be a cumbersome accessory in a workshop, many woodworkers find them useful in certain circumstances. If a project requires you to carry heavy tools, a tool belt with shoulder braces will prevent your belt sagging uncomfortably. You might like to try one of these tool belts for size:
Woodworking Clothing Safety Tips
- If you’re wearing long sleeves, roll them up to above your elbows or change to a short-sleeved shirt.
- See that you’re not wearing any loose clothing or accessories that could get caught up in moving machinery or tools.
- Remove any bracelets, watches, chunky rings etc.
- If your hair is long, tuck it in under a cap.
- Always follow woodworking safety rules!