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DIY Safety Tips

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Being a DIYer isn't especially dangerous, but there are risks when you're using tools and ladders. Every year, emergency rooms report hundreds of thousands of visits for injuries caused by power tools, ladders and hand tools. To ensure you're not one of these statistics, here are six reminders about how to prevent common injuries when you're working on summer projects.


1. Don't use a table saw fence for crosscuts

One of the most dangerous table saw practices is cutting a board to length using the fence as a guide. There's a good chance the board will get pinched between the blade and the fence and get thrown back into your body with lots of force. This "kickback" causes injuries like broken thumbs, cracked ribs, ruptured spleens and punctured eyes.

Don't be a dummy: Don't use the fence as a guide for crosscutting. Instead, use the miter gauge or build a crosscutting sled.


2. Don't put your hand directly behind a circular saw

If your circular saw blade binds, the saw can shoot backward a lot faster than you can move your hand out of the way. Anything in the blade's path, including fingers, hands, legs and feet, is in danger of getting cut. Always clamp your work and keep both hands on the saw whenever possible. Also, keep your body to the side of the saw rather than directly behind it.

Don't be a dummy: Don't hold a board like this. Use a temporary nail or clamp instead.


3. Keep your hands clear of your nail gun

Nails don't always go straight. Wood grain or knots can deflect the nail and cause it to shoot out the side of the board. If you're driving the nail at an angle to toenail a board, there's a good chance the nail can glance off and go shooting into space. If you must hold a board with your free hand, keep it well away from the nail gun muzzle. Also avoid shooting into large knots that can deflect the nail. And, of course, always wear eye protection when you're using a nail gun.

Don't be a dummy: Don't hold a board close to the nail gun tip. Move your hand as far back as possible to avoid getting a nail through your finger.


4. Take utility knives seriously

They may seem tame, but utility knives account for a whopping 60,000 estimated emergency room visits a year. One slip is all it takes to put a deep cut in any body part that's in the way. To avoid injury, clamp materials instead of holding them by hand. If you do have to hold something while you're cutting, imagine a line at right angles to the cutting line and keep your hand behind it (on the dull side of the blade).

Don't be a dummy: If the knife slips, this dummy will end up with a nasty cut or worse. Keep your hands out of the blade's path.


 5. Wear eye protection—really!

Wood chips, metal shards, bits of tile, household chemicals, paint, solvents and sticks are some of the things that injure eyes. Use the right eye protection for the task at hand. For general work around the house, wear ANSI-approved safety glasses or goggles. Look on the frame for the "Z87+" marking, which indicates that the glasses are rated for high impact. Wear a face shield for grinding operations. Buy several pairs of safety glasses so they're always nearby. And wear them!

Don't be a dummy! This dummy has eye protection and isn't using it. The smart guy not only has eye protection on hand—he wears it!


6. Don't leave tools on top of a ladder

Be honest: Have you left stuff on top of ladders or framing? One of our Field Editors told us how his brother had rested a framing nail gun on the top plate of a wall they were building, and while he was working below, the vibrations from his pounding knocked it off onto his head. Tools left on top of ladders, set precariously on framing or left on a roof are accidents waiting to happen.

Never leave anything on ladders. It'll come back to bonk you!




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  • Comments
    • by posted on

      OMG!  3 out of the 6 safety tips in this article have happened to me.

      I am a handyman please read:

      #2: This happened to me I was lucky and the kickback only sliced a small piece of the tip of my left index finger off no ER visit.  It healed ok with a slight scar.

      #4:  This one was a little more serious and did result in a trip to the ER.  I was trimming some small pieces of wood from a door hinge cut I was making the knife slipped cut a really deep gash out of the palm of my right hand.  Thirteen stitches later I know own a $350.00 utility knife.  The doctor said I was extremely lucky and did not cut any tendons.

      #6: This has happened to me more than once resulting in some bumps and bruises I have been lucky and have had no serious injuries.  But I try to more mindful of what I leave up there.  Hint:  Some of the newer step ladders have little hole of various sizes molded into the top tray.  They are there for a reason.  The larger one holds a standard size hammer.  The smaller ones hold screw drivers and pliers.  If you get into the habit of using them you can minimize the risk of a hammer off the noggin.

      Leo A. Paquin HANDYMAN

    • by posted on

      Repairing your home can be a fun and educational experience. Making your own repairs to your home saves you time, worry and money, but you must not overlook some safety concerns when performing these repairs. Read books on this and remember safety should be your first concern.

    • by posted on

      Interesting and informative information.  However in Photo #1 the guard is missing on the table saw blade.  It is imperative that a saw guard be in place for table saws, skill saws, radial arm saws, chop saws or any other saw with a rotating blade.

      in photo #3 there should be a note that when working with a power nailer it is imperative to use safety glasses or safety goggles.  One never knows when a nail or splinter of wood may be dislodged and be blown into ones eyes.

      In photo #5 the dummy is shown wearing a face shield.  This is not adequate, as face shields are not rated the same as safety glasses.  It is recommended that persons using grinders use safety glasses and a face shield.  The safety glasses will probably protect the eyes.  The face shield alone will probably not protect the eyes.

      This method of having safety glasses and a face shield is pretty much an industry standard when working with rotating equipment such as grinders (hand or table) or using equipment such as weed trimmers. Many other jobs using various pieces of equipment also support the use of the face shield along with the safety glasses.  The face shield tends to protect the skin of the face. Safety glasses or safety goggles are the only approved methods for eye protection.  Face shields are not safety rated devices in any jurisdiction.

    • by posted on

      Better to be safe than sorry.

    • by posted on

      Great article! Most people don't realise how often DIY accident actually happen. Far too many people operate power tools without reading the instructions manual. Always make sure you know exactly how to operate a certain tool and what the limitations of that tool is. Safety first.



    • by posted on

      Develop the same trigger discipline that shooters have. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready for the bit or blade to spin. Find a reference on the tool to touch, until the time comes when you must "press" the trigger.

    • by posted on

      I my self manage to secure from such fracture by taking security <a href="www.youtube.com/watch & tools.</a>

    • by posted on

      Its all depends up on, where water damages i always prefer thus guys. www.youtube.com/watch

    • by posted on

      Great advice. Believe it or not I've left tools at the top of my ladder. Ouch!

    • by posted on

      I completely agree that DIY activities can be dangerous. Sometimes it is best to leave things to the professionals. Like your furnace maintenance this fall. Thanks for the awesome article!



    • by posted on


    • by posted on

      Never ever ever leave tools on top of a ladder! That is among the most basic but still really important handyman safety rules. When dealing with maintenance and repairs, people often forget where and what tools are left. All fantastic handy men at www.housingcare.org/.../ser-info-11809-fantastic-hand.aspx go through special handyman safety training programs. Eye wear is simply mandatory. Nobody would like injuries because of paint splashes, right?

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