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Material relevant to all tools

Processes for using any tool

Four questions

Before you approach any of the tools, or do any work in woodwork, please ask yourself these four questions

  1. Am I tired?
  2. Am I distracted?
    • Check also in case there are kids, people not paying attention etc. around you so you won't encounter sudden distractions
  3. Am I in a rush?
  4. Am I sure?
    • Am I sure this is the right tool for the job?
    • Am I sure I'm not doing something silly?
    • Am I sure I'm using the right methods?

If you're not sure about what you're doing or you're not in a good state to be operating the tool, stop and come back when you are.

Personal safety


  1. No lone working

    At least one other person must be in the space. They do not need to be in woodwork; but make sure people tell you if they're leaving if you're one of the last. It is permitted to have a guest for the purposes of safety, but they are not allowed to use the tools.

  2. Long hair tied back

  3. Loose sleeves etc. secured/rolled up

  4. Flat, close toed shoes

  5. Goggles

  6. No gloves whilst using machine tools

    Increased risk of entrapment

  7. Push sticks when closer than 15cm to machine tool blade

  1. Ear defenders

Be aware that hearing damage occurs with lower levels of noise over a long period as well as with short bursts of loud noise; so err on the side of caution.

  1. Breathing protection (mask) of FFP2 or better

  2. Barrier cream

Moisturiser-like product that products against irritation when coming in contact with workplace

Ensure area with tool is safe

  1. Do not enter yellow boxed areas if another user is using a power tool there (including for work not using a power tool).
  2. If you are using a larger piece of stock, ensure there is enough space for you the whole way through the cut, not just at the start.
  3. Is the area around the machine clear of dust and obstructions
    • Sawdust/wood shavings are a slip hazard so sweep up if some has built up around you
    • Are there any trip hazards.

Is the equipment safe/in good condition?

Physically unplug the machine for checks where you get closer than 15cm to cutting tools.

  1. Check the blade

    1. Is the blade missing teeth? (Note difference between TCT and conventional blade types)
    2. Is there any obvious damage to the teeth or blade body (bent, chipped etc)
    3. Are the teeth for the blade pointing in the right direction?
      • If you're not sure, ask!
    4. Is the blade correctly tensioned (bandsaws) or attached firmly (circular saws).
    5. Does the blade turn easily without obvious rubbing on other parts of the machine or perhaps waste stuck inside
  2. Noises/etc.

    When the machine is on, listen for unusual sounds that may indicate an internal fault

  3. Is dust extraction connected (when available)

  4. Do I have push sticks available?

  5. Is machine at a neutral angle etc.

    1. Previous users may have adjusted the tool such that it is at an angle other than 90 degrees, so check this yourself to avoid disappointment

Is this the right tool?

  1. Can I safely hold the work?
    • Once your piece is cut, the work may become unbalanced, so think through the whole operation
  2. Is material suitable dimensions?
  3. Is there sufficient clearance around the machine for my whole operation

Material considerations

  1. Does my material contain metal etc? A metal detector is in the space which you should use if you are using reclaimed wood.

  2. Is material clean Material should not be oily etc so it doesn't gunk up the machine. Dirty material also has an increased risk of containing contaminants etc.

  3. Respiratory risks

    • All wood produces fine dust
    • MDF contains formaldehyde
    • Treated wood contains various chemicals
    • Wood naturally contains toxins and causes reactions. Research whatever you're using, referring to (accessed 26/11/23)
    • Inform other people in the room if you're cutting something with high toxicity (as a guideline above 2 stars potency on the list linked, or MDF/treated wood).

Minimising breakages

  1. Bring blade to full speed before inserting material into its path
    • Starting the machine with material touching the blade will overload the engine.
  2. If the machine sounds wrong or is struggling a lot, go slower or stop using it and report broken if this isn't possible. The blades do blunt over time. Forcing stuff through the bandsaw is most likely to break it.


Fixing faults yourself

If you think you could fix a fault don't try before speaking to the wood area coordinator. If you don't receive a response do not assume you can go ahead.

Becoming a maintainer

Calibration is done by the wood team. The wood team maintainers are volunteers. If you are practically minded and believe this is something you could do, feel free to reach out to the coordinator and ask if you can help. However, do not adjust anything without speaking to the wood area coordinator first, as not knowing who has touched what makes their job much more difficult as well as leading to health and safety risks and damaged equipment.

  1. Only adjust angle controls etc. as an ordinary user
  2. Use report signs with QR codes around the space to report faults, or post on telegram
  3. Put a sign on the machine to say it's out of order so people don't use it and have injuries

Hackspace specifics

Do not store anything in woodwork

If large storage is full, you must either clear outdated items out or store elsewhere

Do not remove/borrow any tools from the space

Scraps are free, but this system will be obsoleted

There is a library with some woodworking books

This is in the main area on the box shelves. Particularly recommended is the 'Collin's Complete Woodworker's manual', which is also available on for free.

We don't have cleaners so leave the room tidy.

Don't leave machines/items in the gangway and put wheeled tools back after use

'No lone working' rule

Where a tool states 'no lone working', this means that at least one other person must be in the space. They do not need to be in woodwork; but make sure people tell you if they're leaving if you're one of the last. It is permitted to have a guest for the purposes of safety, but they are not allowed to use the tools.