The first rule of tool safety is to buy good quality, as suggested at the beginning of this chapter. You don't have to buy the best, but lowest cost can often mean lowest value. The best value is typically higher-quality tools and equipment purchased at a discount. It's also important to use your tools correctly. It may be tempting to use a screwdriver as a chisel, but doing so can damage the tool and, more important, damage you.
Also, never remove the safety guards installed on power equipment, and always wear safety goggles when working with power equipment. Safety glasses should also be worn when sanding, filing, or doing any other job that produces flying particles. Make sure your safety glasses wrap around the sides to keep deflected particles from reaching your eyes from any angle.
Once you've purchased high-quality tools and learned how to use them properly, you're good to go -- right? Not quite. The most dangerous tool is one that isn't well maintained. A dull saw is less safe than a sharp one. A hammer with a loose handle can do more damage than one in good repair. A power tool with a frayed cord can electrocute you. So, be diligent about tightening loose parts, fixing damaged cords, and sharpening dull blades.
Quick Fix Tool Care
Quality tools aren't cheap. Fortunately, with care, they can last many years and be a better long-term investment than cheap tools. Here are some useful tips on tool care.
- Protect your tools from moisture. Keep a thin coating of oil on metal parts, wrap them in plastic wrap, or keep carpenters' chalk or mothballs (both of which absorb moisture) in your toolbox.
- A piece of garden hose slit open is a handy protective cover for the teeth of a handsaw between projects. Circular saw blades store conveniently in heavy shipping envelopes.
- To remind yourself to unplug an electric drill when changing accessories, fasten the chuck key near the plug end of the cord.
- Tack rags will last longer if they're stored in an airtight container to keep them from drying out. Airtight storage also prevents spontaneous combustion, which can be very dangerous. (This safety tip applies equally well to other rags, coveralls, work gloves, and any other clothes that might absorb flammable oils and solvents.)
- Don't take a chance of hitting a thumb or finger when hammering a small brad, tack, or nail. Slip the fastener between the teeth of a pocket comb; the comb holds the nail while you hold the comb. A bobby pin or a paper clip can be used the same way as a comb.