Power tools can be pretty intimidating to the beginner woodworker. I’ve been woodworking for nearly 6 years now, but I can remember a time when I was afraid to use the power tools in my garage. Big saws, fast moving blades – it can be scary if you don’t know what you’re doing!
If you’re feeling apprehensive to use your power tools, that’s actually a good thing. It means you recognize that power tools can be dangerous if they aren’t used properly. As long as you know how to properly use your tools, there is nothing to be afraid of.
Below are some of the things I did to get over my fear of power tools and start building!
Note: Always take the appropriate safety precautions when using power tools. If you just don’t feel comfortable using your power tools, don’t do it. The steps I’ve outlined below are advice based on how I gained confidence with power tools. The reader is responsible for his or her own safety.
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1. Know Your Stuff
I always read the safety manuals for my tools, especially the larger ones. It’s not an entertaining read, but knowing how the tool works is essential to knowing how to use it safely and recognize when things aren’t working correctly.
You need to know more than just how to use your power tools. You also need to know how to maintain them. This might mean learning how to properly change out saw blades, how to clean sawdust from the machine or the right way to store it when it’s not being used.
All of this information should be covered in the safety manuals for your power tools. I keep my manuals in a drawer in the garage so I can reference them if I ever need to troubleshoot a tool. If you no longer have your safety manuals, most can be found online now.
Because using power tools is hands-on, just reading instruction manuals isn’t enough. At least it wasn’t enough for me to feel comfortable using my larger tools. Luckily I had more experienced people around who I could watch using the tools before I jumped in and used them myself.
If you don’t have people who you can observe using power tools, you can search for videos and tutorials on YouTube. The most reliable videos are likely to be from tool manufacturers or reputable woodworking companies.
3. Ask Questions
As I was learning about power tools I asked a million questions. I still ask questions. If I’m feeling unsure about something I asked a more experienced woodworker. If a more experienced woodworker isn’t available, I look it up for myself. Asking questions is the best way to learn and feel comfortable with your machines.
4. Be Safe
Once you’ve learned about your power tools, it’s almost time to actually use them. If you’ve been nervous to use your tools that’s because you recognize there is the potential for injury.
Always, always, always wear your safety gear!
This should include at minimum, ear protection and eye protection. Depending on what you’re doing additional safety gear may be needed. If you’re not sure what safety gear you need, I recommend reading through this article about woodworking safety.
As a side note, kids look adorable in ear protection.
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It's #toddlertuesday! I don't know if that's a thing, but mostly I just wanted an excuse to share this adorable picture of my shop helper wearing his ear protection. I love spending afternoons with my boy in the garage ❤️ #woodworking #earprotection #shophelper #woodworkingmama #woodworkingwithkids
And finally, practice! With your new knowledge and safety precautions you should be feeling more confident about using your power tools. If you can, I recommend having someone experienced supervise the first few times you use your tools, until you feel comfortable doing it on your own.
I started with smaller tools and worked my way up to using bigger, more intimidating power tools. I learned how to use a small chop saw before moving onto my larger compound miter saw. I mastered using the jigsaw before moving on to the circular saw and table saw.
By starting with tools that I felt more comfortable with I built my confidence and skills so that I felt ready to move on to larger tools.
Power tools aren't scary
Power tools really aren’t scary and you don’t need to be afraid to use them. Through knowledge, safety precautions and practice you can overcome your fear and be a pro!
Since getting over my fear of power tools I have tackled countless projects and gotten more and more confident in my skills. You can totally do that, too!
Looking for some easy woodworking tutorials to get started? Check out my free project plans and detailed photo tutorials!
I want to hear from you!
What’s holding your back from starting your woodworking journey? Will you practice these steps to become more confident with your power tools? Leave a comment below!