Dust. Wood chips. Loud equipment. Toxic vapors. These hazards are among the multitude of assaults to a person’s body in a typical workshop, and those same hazards exist in a DIY-er’s workspace as well. It’s imperative that you protect yourself from harm so you can continue to build and create. Safety equipment is created to keep you healthy and comfortable, so let’s examine some basics.

Know Your Tools and Materials
Before using a new tool, product, or safety gear, begin by reading all the included safety and handling literature. It will spell out in detail necessary safety equipment needed, as well as safe procedures for handling materials. Heed the warnings and comply with the recommended safety measures. Keep this information handy in case you need to refer back at a later time. It’s also good practice to review the safety literature on a regular basis.

You’ve got to protect your eyes. Safety glasses work well to protect eyes from impact and some dust. You can get clear ones for the shop, tinted ones for use outside, and even some with magnifiers to better see that fine detail. If your project is making a lot of dust and that dust is staying airborn, safety goggles might be more appropriate as they seal out most of the solid particles in a workshop. When you’re mixing finish or working with a liquid that could splash, it’s wise to further protect your entire face with a full-face shield as well as goggles.

Most woodworking machines are loud. Even “quiet” tools like an electric drill can damage hearing over time. Disposable foam earplugs are convenient, come in different styles, and are effective for most woodworking processes. Many woodworkers prefer over-the-ear hearing muffs as they are quick and easy to put on and seal out both sound and dust. Either way, protect your hearing.

Nose and Lungs
Working on any type of woodworking project will usually involve creating dust. For general protection against dust, a disposable and inexpensive paper dust mask works great. When spraying finish or working with resins, protection against fumes with a respirator is required. Respirators are made to be adjusted to an individual user, and have detachable, disposable air filters to keep out toxic fumes and particles.

Healthy hands are vital to completing projects. Work gloves not only protect your hands, but some styles even have tacky gripping surfaces to increase grip. And when you’re mixing stain or finish, disposable nitrile or rubber gloves are a must to protect your skin.
These are just some of the ways you can protect yourself from the hazards in your workshop. Always refer back to safety and handling literature for the tools and materials you’re using before starting work, and follow the recommendations.