Using a router table can help you add precise edges and intricate designs to your woodworking projects. From creating mortise and tenant joints to scroll patterns, your router table offers you endless options. Like all power tools, however, there is a certain amount of danger involved when using a router table. Because you are not handling the router itself, but rather the wood you are working, there can be a tendency to forget that you are using a powerful tool. To ensure that your projects get done safely, remember to follow these basic safety tips.
Read the Manual
Your owners’ manual is the most important safety feature on your router table. Each router table is different, so even the most experienced woodworkers need to read the manual before getting started. The owners’ manual will describe any special safety features your router table has, as well as safe operating practices.
Kill Switch within Reach
When things start going wrong you will want to shut down the power immediately. As you move around your router table to work on your project, always make sure you can reach the machine’s kill switch. Hit the kill switch at the first sign of trouble to avoid major injuries. You can always restart your project, you can’t replace a finger.
Dangling clothing or jewelry, such as drawstrings and chains, can get tangled up in a power tool’s moving parts before you even realize a danger exists. A router table’s spinning bit is no exception and because it’s open to the operator, it poses added risk. When working in the wood shop you should avoid wearing clothing with loose ends, tucking jewelry and other dangling pieces inside shirts or behind aprons.
Leaning Over your Work
A spinning router bit will cut through flesh as easily as it cuts through wood. Even a stopped router bit is sharp and can seriously cut you. It may be tempting to lean over the router table to take a look at your work, but doing this puts you in danger of cutting open your stomach or chest. When you need to see your work from a different angle, turn the router off and walk around the table to get a good, safe look.
Securing your Wood
When a spinning bit grabs a loose piece of scrap, it can shoot the wood out at a dangerous speed. Whether you clamp your wood to a moving guide or keep both hands on your project, you want to make sure the wood you are working on is secured to the router table at all times. Flying pieces of scrap are a danger not only to you, but to others working in the wood shop as well. Also, avoid working small pieces of wood as much as possible, as they are harder to hold on to and bring your hands too close to the spinning router bit.
Safety starts with prevention. Before you get started working on your router table, make sure you have protected yourself against any possible danger. Safety glasses, gloves and a leather apron will all protect you from the splinters your router table can spit out.