Since their inception, planers and jointers have been important tools in the world of woodworking. While their designs have changed over the decades and centuries, what they do to set wood to the right size and create smooth, flat surfaces has not. And this means the safety issues with both of these tools remains to this day. To help out, here are some precautions to take when using these tools regardless if you’re using them for the first time or are a professional.
Start with a risk assessment of the area, the wood, and equipment. There needs to be a two-foot “berm” before and after the planer or jointer where others should not be standing in case of kickback. The wood to plane or joint should be clean with solid knots. Open knots can cause the machines to come loose. Also, make sure you don’t have any loose clothing or jewelry and you wear safety goggles.
For either tool, you want to consider the three-inch rule for your hands and fingers. Make sure there is a three-inch space between the area you operate the planer or jointer and the blades. Never place your hand in front of the bladed areas for additional support. If a vice or other support tool is not available, then ask for assistance from another person.
Blade replacement is another issue where tool users can run into safety concerns. Removing blades, especially on powered versions of planers and jointers, can lead to potential cuts, some critical. Double-check to make sure the tools are powered off before replacing the blades. And, if possible, use self-setting blades for planers and jointer knives to avoid trouble.
Of course, paying attention to the job you are doing is an obvious way to injury. We can be easily distracted by many things these days, including conversations with other woodworkers. Best thing to do is keep your head down and focus on the job at hand instead of looking up to talk to someone else. This can lead to injury not just to yourself but to your friend as well.
Create a safety perimeter, take your time, and pay attention are the three tools you need to properly operate a planer or jointer to make your project a success.