General Safety and Conduct

Terms and Definitions

Laser Cutter

Hand Tools

Stationary Machinery

Metal Fabrication

Demonstration Videos



Using Power Tools



General Guidelines

The following guidelines apply for all portable power tools. Be sure your hands are not wet when using electric power tools.

Be sure any electrical cords are out of the way.


Electric Hand Drill

Electric hand drills are extremely useful in that they may be used to drill, screw, grind, polish, and sand given the proper attachments. Corded hand drills are used when you need a lot of power. Cordless hand drills provide mobility and convenience. The shop also has hammer drills for working with masonary concrete and brick. Hand drills are not recommended for working metal. Be sure the drill is unplugged before tightening the chuck.

Be sure the drill switch is off before plugging it in to the outlet.

Always hold the switch when operating the drill. Be ready to stop the drill instantly.

When using a heavy-duty drill, hold the drill with both hands and brace the body well to avoid injury.

When using hand drills, the drill is more volatile when it exits the material than when it enters the material. (If you use a large drill bit, as it exits the backside of the work the bit will become unstable and the drill will wrench your wrist.)

It is recommended to place a backing board under the material you are working on so that the drill bit will not blow out as it exits the back of the material.


Electric Sanders:

Electric Sanders come in many sizes and shapes, including special use application sanders.

Belt Sanders for quick stock removal.

Random Orbit Sanders use round sand paper and are useful in sanding flat surfaces.

Pad Sanders use a quarter sheet of sand paper and are useful for curved and flat shapes.


Clamp or rest the stock to be sanded firmly against the work surface.

Unplug the tool before changing the sandpaper.

Keep both hands on the handle. Always keep your hands away from the sanding surface.

Use the belt sander only on pieces of stock of sufficient size to be sanded safely. Clamping is recommended.

Do not overload the motor by pushing down. Allow the weight of the tool to provide the working pressure.


Skill Saw (Circular Saw)


Skill saws, or portable circular saws are used as portable table saws. They are extremely versatile once you know how to use them. Entire houses are built with this tool alone. (Hence the name "Skill".) Make sure the blade on the saw is intended for the material being cut.

Check that the shoe and blade guard are in good working order. Never remove or disarm the blade guard.

The shoe can be raised or lowered relative tot he blade to adjust for depth of cut. Adjust the blade so that it will not extend more than 1/8" through the material to be cut.


Properly support the material to be cut. Never hold material in place with your feet or knees.

Never lift the guard by hand when the saw is in operation.

Make one cut at a time. After making a cut, leave the saw blade in the cut until it stops.

Never pull the running saw backward in a cut, as this will cause it to kickback (a great technique for thumb removal).

Always set the saw down on its side with the guard closed.

Never a hold a running saw at your side.


Portable Jigsaw (Saber Saw)


The portable jigsaw uses a reciprocating blade in an up-and-down motion. This is the portable version of a band saw. It can be used to cut scrolling or curved cuts in materials up to 2 1/2 inches thick and can cut straight lines given practice or a portable fence to run against. The blade can also be plunged (through a pre-drilled hole) into the center of a board to safely create pockets, unlike the skill saw. Hold the saw firmly against the stock to be cut and keep hands and body clear of the saw blade.

If the blade breaks, binds or bends, turn the saw off immediately.

Guide the saw carefully so that blade does not cut into the surface supporting the material.

Do not use the saw to cut small pieces of stock.

Do not force the cutting action; a blade will break if forced to cut too fast.

The width of the blade limits the radius of the cut you can make. It is often necessary to make "relief cuts" which remove excess material and provide enough room for the blade to make a tight radius cut.

Never lift the jigsaw out of the work while the blade is moving. This will mar the material and break the blade.

Install blades with the teeth pointing forward.


Portable Router


The portable router is a hand-held electric tool with a rotating bit that can be used to shape the edges and corners of wood. A plunge router can also cut pockets and details from the center of a work. Differently shaped bits can be used to achieve a variety of effects, making the router a highly versatile tool with countless applications. 


Given enough time and creativity, this one tool can replace all the others in the shop. Always unplug the electrical cord before changing bits or cutters, or making any adjustments. Be sure that the motor switch is off before plugging it into the outlet.



After a machine is set, verify all adjustments, before turning on the power. Use a piece of scrap to test your cut before use on the actual work.

Hold the router with both hands and feed the cutter slowly into the material. The direction of the feed must be opposite to the rotation of the cutters, or control cannot be maintained.

Turn off the power and rest the machine on it's side, when a cut has been completed.

In a plunge cut, the depth of the cut should not exceed 1/4" per pass in hardwoods.


Biscuit Jointer

The modern equivalent of dowel joinery, the biscuit jointer creates a half-football-shaped pocket in the edge of a board, allowing it to be mated to an opposing board possessing a similar pocket using a football-shaped wafer of compressed particle board. When glued into place, the wafer expands and creates a blind internal joint, much as a dowel would. This technique is useful for insuring that the top surfaces of two joined boards will remain level as clamps are applied.