Safety must come first with any high-speed activity, especially woodturning. Using the best safety practices possible is one aspect of safe turning. Equipping yourself with the proper safety gear is the next most important way to turn wood bowls safely.
Below is a list of recommended gear that I use and encourage you to do the same. Each item is linked to Amazon where you may check the current price and availability.
Basic safety glasses need to be on at all times. Building the habit of always earing them will assure they are in place when that unexpected moment occurs.
Besides needing to protect my eyes, I need readers to see things close up. Yes, I’m that old. LOL I use safety glasses every day, and they work great while keeping my eyes safe. Here are the safety glasses with readers I use.
If dust or wood chips are frequently reaching your eyes, you may want to consider full wrap around safety goggles. I use these also during allergy season while I mow. The goggles keep dust and allergens out of my eyes.
I use a full-frame face shield that supports the protective face panel all the way around. The other nice feature of this face shield is the clear face panels are replaceable. I find over time, finish spraying up and scratches wear the plex down. Replacing the face panel is quick and easy. I usually have a couple extra replacement panels on hand at all times.
Cleaning safety glasses and face shield is a lot easier with the right product. I use this Plastic Lens Cleaner designed just for plastic to clean my safety gear like new every time.
Also, this face shield is very comfortable. I have a large head, literally, and many times headgear can start to hurt after awhile. That is not the case for this face shield. It is very comfortable and easily adjusted to fit my head.
While cutting wood with a chainsaw, additional safety gear is needed. If you are working where there are limbs overhead it is a good idea to have a hard hat. This chainsaw safety helmet protects the head and shields the face from flying debris. It also has built-in ear protection. This is a must for doing any work with the chainsaw.
While a turning smock isn’t necessarily a safety item, it is nice to keep your cloths clean and dry and keep shavings out of your pockets and belt and…EVERYWHERE. LOL!
Feet and Hands
Believe it or not, I’ve found that turning with closed-toe Crocs is both safe and comfortable and if I don’t wear socks, I don’t drag shavings in the house. This is a big plus with my wife who jokes about the trail of wood pixie dust I leave behind everywhere I go.
My tool rest guide hand, my left hand, takes a ton of abuse from rapidly flying wood shavings. To protect my left hand while turning bowls, I wear a modified snug fitting Utility Glove. I modify the glove by cutting off the fingers at about the second knuckle. This reduces the chance of any lathe catches while keeping my hand protected from flying debris.
Of all the protective gear, clean air is probably the most important. We all know if we get smacked in the face with debris that’s not good and we know if it has happened or not.
Breathing fine particles of dust is a hidden, accumulative and very dangerous process that we need to head off at all times while working with wood and wood dust.
The first line of attack is to wear a good respirator. I use the 3M Rugged Comfort Respirator equipped with 2097 P100 Particulate Filters (which are replaceable). This is a great mask for stopping dust from entering your lungs.
If you will be spraying any chemicals such as lacquer, it’s a good idea to wear an air mask that will capture any volatile organic particles in the air. This air mask from 3M does the trick and it comes in a resealable plastic bag. It is important to store the mask in the bag when not in use.
Air filtration is a primary way to reduce the amount of dust in the air in the first place. A Shop Air Filtration System is designed to move air and collect particulates at the same time.
This air filtration system attaches to the ceiling and is controlled with a remote control unit. Keeping the dust down in the whole shop is a major step in the right direction for lung safety.
Advanced Safety and Protection
I don’t yet have this Personal Protective System. Yet, is the keyword. I’m saving up and will be purchasing the 3M Personal Protective Kit in the near future. With about ten to twenty hours per week turning at the lathe and sanding, it makes sense to use the best protection available.
I’ve seen several woodturners use this 3M Personal Protective System and swear by it. At one point, I tried the Trend Air/Pro Airshield and Faceshield Dust Protector but found it wasn’t that comfortable for me.
I’m looking forward to using this 3M Kit on a daily basis. It uses a positive airflow process that lightly moves filtered air through the helmet and outside. Because of this positive outward airflow, dust and vapors don’t come into the face shield.