Last modified on 4 August 2006, at 06:27

Woodturning/Safety

The process of woodturning is not without its dangers. Some are fairly obvious, some less so. Some may result in short term minor injuries, some may be much more serious, and others may cause long-term health problems that may not be apparent for many years.

The purpose of this chapter is to highlight these dangers and make recommendations to minimize or remove the risk. Ultimately, safety is the individual's responsiblity and will depend largely on both their knowledge and attitude. If in doubt seek proper training or advice.


  • As with any rotating machinery, the operator must take care not to let their clothing, hair or jewelry get caught by the machine or wood.
  • Work pieces must be securely attached to the lathe before turning it on.
  • Make sure that the workpiece can be fully rotated without hitting the lathe bed, toolrest, banjo or other objects around the lathe.
  • Workpieces must be of sound material that will not break while being shaped. Wearing a face mask is recommended.
  • Tools must be supported by the toolrest before contacting the wood.
  • Beware of turning wood which is not perfectly round. Irregular edges turn to a nearly invisible blur when spinning. Examples include work not yet roughed down to a round, or natural edge. Some chucks may pose a similar hazard.
  • Wood dust of any type can cause problems with the respiratory system, skin or eyes. Some woods are toxic and present even worse hazards. Dust extraction and dust masks or respirators are recommended.
  • Many finishes use solvents that are dangerous, either through skin contact or inhalation of fumes.
  • Many finishes cure by polymerisation which is an exothermic chemical reaction. Rags used for applying these finishes should be disposed of so they cannot spontaneously combust and cause a fire.