Due to the short period that takes to acquire skill at using a router table and its simple set up, it is regarded as one of the most important and first tool purchases that a woodworker ever makes. As a versatile workhorse, it requires great care and respect. Using it can help you add intricate designs and precise edges to your projects.
From creating tenant joints and mortise to scroll patterns, it can offer you many different options. Attaching the router to the router table will allow the unit to stay stationary while you are moving the materials. But, because you are not using the machine itself, sometimes you can forget that you are working with the very powerful unit.
In this article, we will show you how to handle this tool without getting injured. As with all power tools, you can enjoy them safely by following these router table safety guidelines.
1. Wear Safety Equipment
Wearing appropriate safety equipment is the first and essential rule of woodworking. For some noisy tools such as surface planers and routers, hearing protection is necessary, or when you apply finishes, it is crucial to wear latex gloves. Carrying eye protection is the most important thing when using a router table, even when your machine comes with the dust port.
If the cut throws some small piece of wood, it can lodge on to your eyes, that can cause blindness. Always wear your safety glasses, from the moment you begin to work to until you are done with your project.
So, beyond the obvious concerns, we found that having an eye and ear protection is crucial when running power tools so that you can focus on the operation.
2. Wear Appropriate Clothing
Your clothes should not be loose-fitting, and it needs to cover enough of your body so it can protect you from any wayward wood chips which can result from cutting.
Loose clothes can cause accidents while running power machines, like getting caught in the router. Jewellery, such as chains and drawstrings can get tangled up in moving parts of the device or its spinning bit.
So, the best thing you can do is to avoid wearing tucking accessories, clothing with loose ends and other dangling parts while working on a wood project.
3. Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
It is very dangerous to combine woodworking and intoxicating substances. If you have used alcohol or drugs, stay away from the power tools because there is a big chance that you will get injured. We know that sometimes there is a temptation to drink one or two bottles of beer while working on some tough project because it seems harmless.
But, that is a terrible idea, because if you are not sober, you won’t be able to deal with some issues that may occur. So, our recommendation is to never work with your power tools if you are not clean from any intoxicating substances.
4. Read the Manual
The essential safety feature on your router table is owner’s manual that is specific to the tool itself. Even if you are a professional, you need to read it before start using it, because every unit is different. It will help you get first – hand knowledge of the specific precautions when operate it, and describe safety features.
These manuals come with machines when you purchase them, and it will show you everything you need to know if you are a beginner. Just follow their guides on how to operate the power tool, and you will learn using it in no time!
5. Double Check Everything
Make sure that the wood you select matches to router speed, horsepower, regarding the width or depth and size, along with the bit. Turn off the power tool, if you want to change the bits. And before you connect the machine to the power, the switch needs to be off.
Speaking of safety, it is wise to keep the switch near your reach in case something goes wrong. If you notice some problems, turn off the unit immediately to avoid serious injuries. You cannot replace your finger, but you can always start over with your project.
6. Leaning Over
Leaning over a router table to check your work, can put you at risk of cutting open your chest or stomach. This powerful tool can cut through any hardwood, so it will be very easy to cut through flesh too. Even if you turned off the unit, it could cut you because its bit is very sharp.
So, if you want to check your working progress, shut off the power tool, and walk around it to get a better look from a different angle.
7. Featherboards and Fences
When you fix the featherboards and fences adequately, they will prevent the wood piece to move around it place. Instead, they will help you to hold it in one place and eliminate any chance of injuries. It would be wise also to use the guard that comes with a fence.
Always make sure that the wooden piece that you are using is secured to the router table. If the spinning bit of the device grabs a little piece of scrap, it can shoot it out at a critical speed. Working with small pieces of wood will increase the chance of injury because you will have some troubles to hold it in a place and your fingers will be too close to the tool. So, try to avoid working with tiny wooden parts.
8. Keep Distance
Your body needs to be a couple of inches away from the device when you want to turn it on. Of course, this safety tip is more than obvious, but we are never tired of repeating it because it is very crucial for your safety and health.
9. Small or Large
When it comes to the wooden board size, keep your caution at a high level. Pay more attention to the smaller pieces as they increase the chance of injury because you will have some troubles to hold them in a place and your fingers will be too close to the power tool. When working with larger pieces, you are less likely to get hurt.
10. Working Area
If you live in the area when it’s mostly raining, you need to make sure that your wood shop is cool and dry. Wet conditions are dangerous for metal and electrical equipment. It is even dangerous to use power tools if you are a little wet or you are sweating; there is a chance you slip and hurt yourself.
11. Use Only Router
Never use some other tool in the router’s place, even if they can fit the equipment easily and have same proportions. They don’t call it for nothing router table. You cannot know how that will turn out; will the table be able to handle the weight or speed of that other tool and how that is going to work.
In simpler word, the table is used only for the router and putting any other tool can lead to problems that can cause injuries.
12. Regularly Maintain the Equipment
Your equipment needs to be kept updated every now and then, especially if you have some problems. Every minor issue requires immediate repair, so you won’t get hurt. After all, it is all about your health and safety.
13. Use Push Sticks
Push sticks come in many sizes and shapes. It is not safe for your fingers to be too close to the rotating blade. When machining heavy, large pieces, push sticks will work well away from the bit, as they will allow you to better grip the workpiece. Single-purpose, dedicated sticks can be made.
14. Multiple Passes
One of the best safety tips that we could give you is to take multiple passes. The router will work harder if you take out a lot of material in just one pass. You will need to press harder which is a not a good idea. So, smaller and lighter passes will result in less sanding and less burning.
Double the usefulness of your router with a router table. Mold small projects, cut long moldings and smooth edges more safely and easier by using this powerful tool. Whether you are touching woodworking tools for the first time or you are a professional, these safety tips will help you to learn how to stay safe while operating it.
Always pay attention to your machine, and if you are distracted or summoned, first finish the cut to a safe conclusion. That way you will be able to deal with the distraction, without getting hurt.