Basic Woodshop Instruction, Standard Operating &

Basic Woodshop
Instruction, Standard
Operating & Safety
Guidelines & Best
Woodlawn Woodshop: 815-716-8625
Woodlawn Arts Academy: 815-626-4278
Table of Contents
Why We Started The Woodlawn Woodshop....................................... 3
Why This Course?..................................................................................... 3
Why We/You Are Here........................................................................... 3
First Aid.................................................................................................. 3-4
Breathing and Respiratory Protection.................................................. 4
Reporting Safety Issues........................................................................... 4
Physical and Mental Condition............................................................. 4
Personal Protective Equipment.......................................................... 4-5
Best Practices for Woodworking Machines....................................... 5-6
Machine Specific Operation and Best Practices........................... 6-32
• Scroll Saw...................................................................... 6-7
• Stationary Sanders....................................................... 7-8
• Drill Press........................................................................ 8-9
• Mortising Machine..................................................... 9-10
• Miter Saw.................................................................. 10-11
• Band Saw.................................................................. 11-12
• Jointer........................................................................ 12-15
• Thickness Planer....................................................... 16-17
• Routers: Hand Held and Table Mounted.............. 17-20
• Wood Lathe.............................................................. 20-24
• Track Saw.................................................................. 24-25
• SawStop Table Saw................................................. 25-31
• Chisel and Utility Knife Safety................................. 31-32
Conclusion............................................................................................. 32
Why We Started The Woodlawn Woodshop
The Woodlawn Woodshop was created to provide
opportunities for community members to have access to
professional woodworking equipment. Woodshop classes are
part of the many programs provided by the Woodlawn Arts
Why This Course?
The Introduction to Woodlawn Woodshop includes a general
shop orientation and instruction on the safe use of the scroll
saw, stationary sanders, drill press, mortising machine, miter saw,
band saw, jointer, thickness planer, routers (hand-held, and
table-mounted), wood lathe, track saw, sawstop table saw,
chisel and utility knife. This is not intended to cover and train
an individual on every aspect of the machinery, but rather to
provide a guide to safe general use of the equipment.
This class is a requirement prior to using equipment within
Woodlawn Woodshop, whether self-directed or part of
organized class participation.
This Handbook outlines basic policies and procedures to be
followed by all students and staff in the Woodlawn Woodshop.
These policies are minimum acceptable standards. Every
project has a different set of problems resulting in innumerable
concerns. If you are uncertain about the best way to
accomplish a task, please ask a member of the staff for help.
It is your responsibility to understand and abide by the
procedures outlined in this handbook, and to follow any other
instructions provided by the staff. Please read this handbook,
pay attention in the class, and ask questions if you don’t
understand something.
Why We/You Are Here
The Woodlawn Woodshop is a creative forum for you to work
cooperatively with staff and other woodworkers to realize your
concept and develop responsible woodworking practices. The
shop is here to provide a safe and friendly learning environment
and an opportunity to work with other woodworkers, woodworking
equipment and machinery.
First Aid
Personal safety is THE most important part of a satisfying and
successful woodworking experience. Minor cuts and abrasions
may be handled by the individual. Splinters, while working with
wood, are very common but should be handled promptly to avoid
infections. More serious injuries, such as deep cuts from power or
hand tools, are to be reported immediately so that proper medical
attention can be provided. If you see a fellow woodworker get
injured, stop to help and alert a staff member.
Breathing and Respiratory Protection
If you are using spray adhesives, spray painting or finishing, an
organic chemical respirator should be considered a required
accessory. This work will be done in the finishing room with the
ventilation system running.
Woodworking activities do create chips and dust; and although
dust extraction systems and air filtration systems will be running, it
may be necessary to wear dusk/particle masks while working.
Reporting Safety Issues/Concerns
Report any possible defect in equipment or tools to a shop
manager. The shop manager will take the tool out of service or
keep the resource out of circulation until the problem is resolved.
DO NOT let a fellow woodworker get injured. Alert the individual
of the unsafe practice or report it to woodshop staff.
Physical and Mental Condition
Stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, low blood sugar, dehydration,
and alcohol/drug use (prescription, over the counter or
recreational) can interfere with your ability to work safely and
It is easy to become complacent while performing repetitive,
monotonous tasks. These are the times when focus is lost and
injuries occur. Stop working and gather your thoughts to regain
your focus of the task.
Personal Protective Equipment
• The use of Safety Glasses is required at all times in the
woodshop and strongly encouraged when using power/hand
tools in any capacity outside of the shop.
• It is loud in the shop. Earplugs are provided free of charge, and
their use is strongly encouraged. Headphones and cell phone
use are not allowed while standing at the machines. If you
receive a call, the best practice is to let it go to voicemail. If
the call must be answered, turn the machine off and leave the
shop to talk.
• Gloves should not be used in any operation where there is the
potential for entanglement, i.e. operation of any machine.
Gloves can be useful in material handling but not machine
• Long hair must be pulled back, away from the face. If hair
is especially long it should be further constrained to avoid
potential mechanical entanglement.
• Closed shoes only.Hgh heels, platforms, open-toed or openheeled shoes, sandals and flip-flops are not allowed in the
• There should be no loose clothing; long sleeves must be rolled
up, shirts tucked in, coats off, et cetera.
• Remove all accessories that could get caught in moving parts
of equipment: rings, piercings, watches, ID card lanyards,
scarves, et cetera.
Best Practices for Woodworking Machines
When working with power tools, be mindful of the shop
environment. Not following proper shop safety is dangerous. Take
a moment to familiarize yourself with the following safe procedural
and operational best practices. Above all, always ask questions if
you don’t understand something.
Keep in mind you are not and have not been the only person
using the machines.
For your safety and for the quality of your project, it is important
to verify the readiness of the machine.
Is the ...
• table surface clear and locked?
• blade square, locked and tight?
• dust extraction system running and “blast gate” open?
• correct speed set?
Remember to ...
• ask first. Refrain from doing anything you are unsure about.
• keep fingers 4-6 inches from moving blades and bits.
• use push blocks to complete the cut through the blade or
router bit.
• use blade guards whenever the cut permits.
• stay with your tool; never leave the tool while it’s running.
• feed materials at a slow, even pace.
• set the blade to appropriate height, adjusting guides
• make sure the work area is clean and clear of obstructions.
• use pliers, vises or clamps to secure material or small work
pieces. Use the proper support for round or odd-shaped stock.
Stands can also be used to support materials. A helper may
be necessary to assist in carrying and supporting large/long
pieces of stock.
• check the floor for slipping and tripping hazards.
• keep materials flat on the table.
• never reach around, under or over moving blades.
• turn the saw off and wait for the blade to stop before backing
out of a cut.
• not run the chip board, particle board, plywood or any man
made sheet stock through the jointer or thickness planer.
• thoroughly dry stock that has been “glued up” before jointing
or planing, 24 hours is a good rule of thumb. Remove all glue
residue before jointing and planing as the dried glue is hard on
planer blades.
• not bring recycled painted wood or recycled or used
construction lumber, such as any used 1X or 2X lumber.
• Used lumber is not permitted. Reclaimed bare hardwood is
permissible but will require a thorough inspection by shop staff
to check for embedded nails/screws before use.
Machine-Specific Operation and Best Practices
• Scroll Saw
The scroll saw cuts material with a short, thin steel blade that
reciprocates (moves up and down) through the material and table
of the saw. The scroll saw is used to cut tight freehand curves and
intricate patterns in sheet stock. The removable blade is flexible
and care must be taken to not break it when cutting. Because the
blade is removable, it is possible to make closed interior cuts by
passing the blade through a hole drilled into the wood.
Basic Operation
1. With the machine turned off, verify the blade is proper for the
cut and material being used. Check the tension of the blade by
plucking the back of it like a guitar string. It should ring. Change
or adjust the blade if needed. Use the guide “Choosing and
Installing a Saw Blade” as required for detailed information.
2. Adjust the work piece hold-down to hold the work piece in
place but not to restrict its lateral movement.
3. Disengage the work piece from the blade before turning on the
4. Turn on the machine and wait for the motor to come up to
speed. The scroll saw uses a foot-controlled on/off switch. With a
constant “off” mode design, press and hold down switch to turn
the saw on and simply lift your foot from switch to turn the saw
5. Approach the blade gently and take care not to break the
blade while cutting. Adjust the speed as needed.
6. When you are finished cutting, turn off the saw and wait for it to
stop before removing your work.
• Stationary Sanders
Belt/disk sander
Oscillating spindle sander
Stationary sanders use abrasive components to quickly remove
small amounts of material from exterior/interior surfaces, and to
smooth edges.
A disk sander is used to sand end surfaces quickly. It removes
wood by turning an abrasive disc past a support table. Material is
supported by the table and pressed against the abrasive disc.
A belt sander is generally used to sand straight and convex
surfaces. The belt sander removes wood by turning an abrasive
belt past a support table. Material is supported by the table and
pressed against the abrasive belt.
A spindle sander is used to sand interior curves. It removes
wood by moving an oscillating abrasive spindle past a support
table. Material is supported by the table and pressed against the
abrasive spindle.
Basic Operation
1. Inspect the sander to make sure the abrasive component is in
good condition.
2. Set and lock the support table at the desired angle.
3. Turn on the machine and wait for the motor to come up to
4. Hold your work securely and flat to the table with your hands
at least 4 inches away from the sander. On the disk sander
hold stock on the left side of table so that the disk cuts on the
downward rotation.
5. Turn the sander off and wait for it to come to a complete stop
before making adjustments or walking away.
• Drill Press
Drill Presses are used to make accurate
holes in a wide variety of materials. A drill press
consists of an overhead drill mounted above
an adjustable table. Much like a hand drill, the
drill press uses bits that are held in place in a
rotating drill chuck. With the aid of a chuck key,
drill bits are interchanged as needed to fit the
task. The rotating drill chuck and bit are lowered
into the work piece. The work piece and the
table surface may be manipulated as needed
for specialized or angled cuts.
Basic Operation
1. Install the desired drill bit in the chuck, making
sure that it is properly centered
2. Lock the bit in the chuck by twisting the chuck until tight. Some
drill chucks may require a key to tighten the chuck. (Be sure to
remove the key from the chuck before turning on the machine.)
3. Position and clamp the piece to be drilled flat on the table or
secure in a vice. (Make sure the bit will not damage the table
or vice as it exits the work piece.) For clean, splinter-free holes,
place a piece of scrap wood on the table below the work
4. Turn on the machine and wait for the motor to come up to
speed. With the drill press running, adjust the spindle to the
desired speed. Turn the handle on the left side of the drill press
and observe the digital readout on the front.
5. Feed the drill by lowering the head assembly at a slow, steady
rate—the harder the material, the slower the speed— and let
the bit do the cutting. Cutting fluid should be used when cutting
steel or iron.
Note: There are several factors which determine the best
speed to use in any drill press operation, such as kind of
material being worked, size of hole, type of drill and quality
of cut desired. A general rule of thumb is the smaller the drill
bit, the faster the speed. The speed should be faster for softer
materials and slower for harder materials. Spindle speeds will
generally range from 300 RPMs for larger twist or brad point
bits, (1/2 inch and up) to 800 RPMs for bits smaller than ½ inch.
Forstner bits of any size generally require smaller speeds.
6. When you are finished drilling, raise the head assembly to its full
“up” position.
7. Turn the drill off and wait for the chuck to come to a complete
stop before removing the work piece or making any
• Mortising Machine
The mortising machine drills square holes.
The holes are cut into the wood with a drill bit
inside of a square chisel. The mortising bit/motor
assembly is supported above the work piece
and is pressed into the material by the use of a
lever. The work piece is secured with a built-in
Basic Operation
1. With the assistance of shop staff, install the
desired mortising bit into the chuck, making
sure it is properly squared.
2. Position and clamp the work piece. Set all stops according to
the size of the desired mortise.
3. Turn on the machine and wait for the motor to come up to
4. Approach the material slowly by lowering the mortising head
toward your work piece.
5. Start at your desired start position. Feed the mortising bit at
an even feed rate. Do full plunges initially, retract the bit to
evacuate chips, and then continue with plunges and retractions
until the desired depth is accomplished. Move the work piece to
the opposite end of the desired mortise and repeat. Move the
work piece laterally within the first and second cuts to complete
the mortise. Try making complete cuts with the mortise to ensure
support on all sides of the bit.
6. When you are finished mortising, raise the head fully, turn the
machine off, and wait for the machine to come to a complete
stop before removing the work piece or making modifications.
• Sliding Compound Miter Saw
The sliding compound miter saw
pivots, tilts and slides on linear rails to
give the saw a wider cutting capacity.
Sometimes referred to as a chop saw,
it is used to cross-cut linear stock to size
and at accurate mitered angles. The
miter saw is used to make through cuts.
Use it only on material that can be cut
completely. The miter saw cuts wood by
turning a circular steel blade that turns
downward and away from the operator.
To produce a cut, the saw is lowered
into the work piece which is supported by the table and fence.
Basic Operation
1. Rest the material on the table and tight against the fence.
2. Set the angle to the desired position and lock the pivot into
3. Without turning the saw on, lower the blade to align it with the
mark on your material.
4. Gently raise the saw all the way up. Do not release the saw
5. Hold the material securely with your hand to the table and
fence. Make sure that your hand is at least 6 inches away from
the blade
6. With the saw all the way up, firmly grip the handle, then press
and hold the switch.
7. After the blade has come up to speed lower the saw slowly
through the material. For cuts on wider stock pull it toward you,
then slide it away toward the rear fence to complete the cut.
8. When your cut is complete and the saw is all the way down, turn
the saw off by releasing the switch.
9. Wait until the blade has come to a complete stop, and then
slowly raise the saw to its full upright position.
• Band Saw
18-inch band saw
14-inch band saw
The band saw is used to cut stock to size and to rough out
shapes. The band saw cuts material with a vertical steel blade
on a continuous loop. The blade rides on two wheels which
pull the blade through the table of the band saw. Cuts may be
made freehand or with the aid of guides such as the rip fence
or miter gauge. A band saw also has the ability to “resaw” or
slice through the width of board standing on edge. (See resaw
guide instructions below.) The material being cut needs to be
flat on the table (or on edge when resawing) in a stable manner.
Woodlawn Woodshop has two band saws, a 14-inch throat with
12-inch height capacity and an 18-inch throat with 12-inch height
Basic Operation
1. Set the blade guides to support the blade ¼-inch above the
greatest thickness of the material to be cut.
2. Turn on the machine, and allow the motor to come up to speed.
3. Begin the cut. Feed the material at a slow, steady rate. The
thicker the material, the slower the speed. Let the blade do the
cutting. Do not force the piece through the blade. Never try to
pull the work piece back through the saw kerf as this can cause
blade twist and pull the blade off the rotating wheels.
4. Use a push stick when the cutting operation requires your fingers
to enter the 4-inch margin of safety. Keep push sticks within easy
5. Do not twist the blade by cutting a curve with a radius smaller
than the blade will allow. Make relief cuts perpendicular to the
radius if the cut radius is less than the blade will allow.
6. When you are finished cutting, turn off the machine and wait for
the blade to come to a complete stop. Return the blade guide
to its lowest position.
Resaw Guide (18-inch Band Saw)
Attach the post (A) to the fence with the lock knob (B). There is
a slotted hole in the fence that will accommodate the resaw kit.
Position the post so it is centered with the front edge of the blade.
The resaw guide will give you a taller, single-point contact surface
during resaw.
• Jointer
The jointer is used to apply a smooth, flat surface on the edge
or face of a piece of wood. The jointer at Woodlawn Woodshop
uses a helical cutter head assembly with 54 individual, four-sided
knife inserts (see below) to flatten rough-sawn, warped or irregular
edges and faces of the board. Always feed work along the length
of the grain, from the in-feed to the out-feed table. Woodlawn
Woodshop’s jointer has a cutting width of 8 inches.
Helical cutter head assembly with
54 individual, four-sided knife inserts
Direction of cut infeed to out-feed; Hold
stock flat to out-feed
Basic Operation
1. Locate the on/off switch.
2. Always keep fingers outside of the 4-inch margin of safety.
Use push pads. Always use a hold-down or push block when
surfacing the face of a board. Do not perform jointing
operations on material shorter than 8 inches in length, narrower
than 3/4 inch, (this does not include edge-jointing of boards) or
less than 1/4 inch thick.
3. Press material firmly against the in-feed table bed and against
the fence. Using even, steady pressure, move material from the
in-feed table over the cutter head to the out-feed table.
4. Once foot of material is past the cutter head, maintain steady
pressure on the out-feed table.
5. When using the jointer on longer boards, use the support of a
roller stand.
NOTE: At certain times it may be necessary to plane against
the grain when working with a swirl-grain wood or burl. With
this type of work the operator must use a lesser depth of cut
and a slow rate of feed.
Edge Jointing
This is the most common operation for the jointer. Set the guide
fence square with the table. The depth of the cut should be the
minimum required to obtain a straight edge. Do not make cuts
deeper than 1/8 inch in a single pass. Hold the best face of the
piece firmly against the fence throughout the feed. (See below.)
When edging stock is wider than 3 inches, lap the fingers over the
top of the wood, extending them back over the fence so that
the fence casting will act as a stop for the hands in the event of a
Jointing Short or Thin Work
When jointing short or thin pieces use a push pad or push block
to eliminate all danger to the hands. Two push blocks are located
near the jointer.
Direction of Grain
Avoid feeding work into the jointer against the grain. This will
result in chipped and splintered edges. Feed work with the grain to
obtain a smooth surface
Hand Placement
At the start of the cut, the left hand holds the work firmly against
the in-feed table and fence while the right hand pushes the work
toward the knives. After the cut is under way the new surface rests
firmly on the out-feed table. The left hand should press down on
this part at the same time maintaining flat contact with the fence.
The right hand presses the work forward. Before the right hand
reaches the cutter-head it is moved to the work on the out-feed
table. Follow the 4-inch rule. Avoid passing hands directly over the
cutter head.
Jointing the face of stock, or surfacing, is shown below. The use
of push blocks or pads will help ensure against the operator’s
hands coming into contact with the cutter head in the event of a
kickback or as the trailing end of the board passes over the cutter
head. Adjust the in-feed table for the depth of the cut. Cuts of
approximately 1/16 inch (or less) at a time are recommended, as
this allows better control over the material being surfaced. More
passes can then be made to reach the desired depth.
Always use a hold-down or push block when surfacing short stock
or stock less than 3 inches thick.
Jointing Warped Surfaces
If the wood to be jointed is dished or warped, take light cuts
until the surface is flat. Avoid forcing such material down against
the table; excessive pressure will spring it while passing the knives,
and it will simply spring back and remain curved after the cut is
• Thickness Planer
The thickness planer is used to create a consistent thickness and
a smooth, flat surface on linear stock. The thickness planer removes
wood by shaving material with blades on a rotating helical cylinder.
(This is similar to the jointer cutter head, only wider.) Material is
supported by the bed and fed to the blade automatically. The
thickness planer will not fix a board that is warped or twisted.
Prepare one side of your material with the jointer before bringing
it to the planer. Woodlawn Woodshop’s planer has a maximum
planing width of 20 inches, Maximum planing thickness of 8 inches,
full-width maximum cutting depth of 3/32 inches, minimum planing
length of 7 inches, and minimum planing thickness of 3/16 inch. It
has two feed rates, 24 FPM and 31 FPM.
Table height
adjustment wheel
Feed rate
adjustment lever
Basic Operation
1. Measure your board at its thickest point. Set the planer to
remove 1/16 inch (maximum) of material less than the thickest
point. Initial cuts can be made at a higher feed rate to expedite
the planing process. Make all machine adjustments with the
power off except the feed rate. The feed rate must be adjusted
with the machine running. DO NOT attempt to change the feed
speed while stock is passing through the machine. Damage to
the gearbox may result.
2. Remove material from the machine before turning the machine
on. Never start the machine with the material engaged.
3. Introduce the board jointed side down on the table and square
to the planer.
4. Gently feed the board in the direction of the grain to the planer.
The planer will take the board from you and feed itself. Do not
force-feed it.
5. Support the board until half of the length is in the planer. Then
walk around to the other side and support it until it completes
the pass. The feed rate may be adjusted to a slower feed rate
for finishing cuts.
6. Turn the planer off and wait until it comes to a complete stop
before making any adjustments or walking away.
NOTE: At certain times it may be necessary to plane against
the grain when working with a swirl-grain wood or burl. With
this type of work, the operator must use a lesser depth of cut
and a slow rate of feed.
• Routers
A router is a tool with an electric-motor-driven spindle used to
rout (hollow) out an area in the face of a relatively hard work
piece, typically of wood or plastic. The main application of
routers is in woodworking, especially cabinetry. The router is most
commonly used as a plunging tool and also inverted in a router
table. Router motor sizes vary from around 3/4 HP to 3 1/4 HP with
the largest sizes reserved for table use.
Routers, either hand-held or table-mounted, are one of the most
versatile tools used in a woodworking
shop. They are very loud tools, so
hearing protection must be used during
their use.
Hand-held Router
There are a variety of hand-held
router styles; some are plunge, some
are D-handled, and some are doubleknob-handled. Each can perform
a variety of operations depending
on the profile bit being used. Handheld routers work best with guides or
patterns that are followed to create
the desired profile. Profiles can be
routed on the edge of the stock, even
the end grain, or the surface of the
stock. Examples include, the profiles
shown at right.
Basic Router Profiles
Basic Operation
1. Always inspect the router bit before
each use. NEVER use a bit if the
carbide is cracked or appears
damaged in any way. Verify the size
of the bit is appropriate for the router
being used. For example, bits larger
than 1 ½-inch diameter may be too
large for hand-held operation. Some
bits have RPM maximum limits.
2. Never change or adjust router bits
with the router plugged in, as an
inadvertent start could occur.
3. Make sure the work surface is free from
nails, knots and other foreign objects.
4. Place the work piece securely in a
vise or other recommended clamping
device. Holding the work piece by
Fixed-base router with
hand is unstable and may lead to loss
plunge accessory base
of control.
5. Make sure the router is turned off
before plugging it in. After turning on the router, wait until it has
reached full speed before starting the cut.
6. Never start the tool when the bit is touching the work piece. The
bit may grab the work piece and cause loss of control. Follow
the tool manufacturer’s procedure for setting the depth of the
cut. Smaller, multiple “bites” may take longer to finish profile but
will produce cleaner, safer results.
7. For maximum control, hold the router firmly with both hands. The
reaction torque of the motor can cause the tool to twist.
8. Always feed the cut against the direction of rotation.
9. Feeding the tool in the wrong direction causes the cutting edge
of the bit to climb out of the work piece and pull the tool toward
the operator. (At times it is unavoidable to feed the router in
the same direction as bit rotation “climb cut.” Care must be
exercised by cutting in smaller increments to achieve safe
10. Never touch the bit during or immediately after use. The bit is
too hot to be touched with bare hands.
11. Never lay the tool down until the motor and bit have come to
a complete standstill. The spinning bit can grab a surface and
pull the tool out of your control.
12. Return the bit to the tool cabinet after use. Never throw bits
into the bottom of a drawer. The bits should be stored in a router
bit holder. This will keep them sharp.
Table-Mounted Router
Basic Operation
1. Follow the 4-inch rule; keep your hands and fingers 4 inches
from the router bit.
2. Use a push block to keep your hands protected from the
revolving bit.
3. Adjust the bit guard to the proper height above the bit.
4. Shaping narrow materials can be hazardous; always use feather
boards or push blocks.
5. Maintain proper adjustments for in-feed and out-feed fences.
6. Adjust the fence halves so the cutter opening is more than
required to clear the bit and lock the fence into position.
7. Take time to examine your work piece and make sure that all
necessary precautions have been taken before cutting. Always
make sure the work surface is free from nails, knots and other
foreign objects.
8. Do not shape chipboard or any stock that has paint or varnish
on it.
9. Properly support long lengths of material. Use work supports or
stands as needed.
10. Never feed the work piece in the direction of the cutting
blade’s rotation. Otherwise, the cutter blade can grab and pull
the work piece.
11. Never trap the stock between the fence and the bit. When
freehand routing without the fence, use a starting pin in the
table surface to secure the piece when you start the cut.
12. Always use a miter gauge and clamp for end shaping to
maintain safe control.
13. Always connect the dust collector to the exhaust port before
14. Keep the exhaust port pointed away from you. Don’t reach
into the exhaust chute to unclog chips. Stop the tool and unplug
it from the power source. After making sure the bit has stopped,
clear the chute with something other than your bare hand.
15. Never reach under the table while the tool is running.
Bit guard and feather board for
small pieces
Freehand with starting pin
• Wood Lathe
Small, 12-by-21-inch lathe
Large, 16-by-42-inch lathe
A lathe is a machine tool which rotates the work piece on
its axis to perform various operations—such as turning stock
between centers (spindle), sanding or face turning (bowls or
hollowing)—with tools that are applied to the work piece to
create an object which has symmetry about an axis of rotation.
Woodlawn Woodshop has two lathes.
Basic Operation
Note: There are many wood-turning operations that can be
performed on a lathe. This instruction will cover very basic spindleturning operations. Advanced techniques will be taught in an
advanced wood turning seminar.
Spindle Turning
Spindle turning takes place between the centers of the lathe.
It requires a spur or drive center in the headstock, and a “live”
center in the tailstock.
Basic profile shapes in spindle turning
Stock Selection
Basic turning tools
Stock for spindles should be straight-grained and free of checks,
cracks, knots and other defects. It should be cut 1/8-1/4 inch larger
than the finished diameter and may require additional length so the
ends can be removed later. Larger stock should have the corners
removed to produce an octagon, making the piece easier to rough
down to a cylinder.
1. With a combination square or plastic center-finder for round stock,
locate and mark the center on each end of the work piece.
Accuracy is not critical on full rounds but extremely important on
stock where square sections are to remain. Put a dimple in the stock
with an awl or nail, or use a spring-loaded automatic center punch.
2. Extremely hard woods may require kerfs cut into the ends of the
stock using a band saw so the wood will accept the spur center
and the live center.
3. Drive the spur center about 1/4 inch into the work piece using a
wood mallet or dead-blow hammer. Be careful that you do not
split the work piece. Never use a steel-face hammer and never
drive the work piece onto the spur center while it is mounted in the
lathe spindle.
4. Make sure the headstock is locked to the lathe bed.
5. Clean the tapered end of the spur center and the inside of the
headstock spindle.
6. Insert the tapered end of the spur center (with the attached work
piece) into the headstock spindle.
7. Support the work piece while bringing the tailstock into position
about 1 inch away from the end of the work piece. Lock the
tailstock to the bed.
8. Advance the tailstock spindle with the hand wheel in order to seat
the live center into the work piece. Use enough pressure to secure
the work piece between the centers so it won’t fly off, but do not
use excessive pressure.
9. Tighten the spindle locking handle. The tailstock ram is capable
of exerting excessive pressure against the work piece and the
headstock. Apply only sufficient force with the tailstock to hold
the work piece securely in place. Excessive pressure can overheat
center bearings and damage both the work piece and the lathe.
10. Move the tool support into position. It should be parallel to the
work piece, just below the centerline and approximately 1/8-1/4
inch from the corners of the work piece to be turned. Tighten the
support base to the lathe bed.
11. Rotate the work piece by hand to check for proper clearance.
12. Start the lathe at the lowest speed and bring it up to the
appropriate RPM for the size of the work piece used. Consult the
machine’s digital readout.
Cutting Techniques
Roughing Out
1. Begin with a large roughing gouge and a lathe speed of 500 to
700 RPM. Place the tool on the tool support with the heel of the
tool on the surface to be cut.
2. Slowly and gently raise the tool handle until the cutting edge
comes into contact with the work piece.
3. Beginning about 2 inches from the tailstock end of the work
piece, roll the flute (hollowed-out portion) of the tool in the
direction of the cut. Make long sweeping cuts in a continuous
motion to rough the piece down to a cylinder.
4. Keep as much of the bevel of the tool as possible in contact
with the work piece to ensure control and avoid catches. (NOTE:
Always cut down-hill, or from large diameter to small diameter.
Always work toward the end of a work piece; never start cutting
at the end.)
5. Once the work piece is roughed down to a cylinder, smooth
it with a large skew or spindle gouge. See “Coves” below for
proper spindle-gouge technique. The lathe speed can now be
increased to a higher level of 1,000 to 2,000 RPM, but actual
speed will be based on your level of comfort and experience.
NOTE: Using a skew chisel takes practice to master. Use
extreme caution when attempting.
6. Keep the skew handle perpendicular to the spindle, and use
only the center third of the cutting edge for a long, smoothing
cut. Touching one of the points of the skew to the spinning work
piece may cause a catch and ruin the work piece.
7. Add details to the work piece with the skew, parting tool,
scraper or spindle gouge.
1. Make a parting cut for what is to be a bead to the desired
depth. Place the parting tool on the tool support and move
the tool forward to make the full bevel of the tool come into
contact with the work piece. Gently raise the handle to make
the cut to the appropriate depth.
2. Repeat for the other side of the bead.
3. Using a small skew or spindle gouge, start in the center between
the two cuts and cut down each side to form the bead. Roll the
tool in the direction of the cut.
1. Use a spindle gouge. With the flute of the tool at 90 degrees to
the work piece, touch the point of the tool to the work piece
and roll in toward the bottom of the cove. Stop at the bottom;
attempting to go up the opposite side may cause the tool to
2. Move the tool over the desired width of the cove.
3. With the flute facing the opposite direction, repeat step 1 for
other side of cove. Stop at the bottom of the cut.
“V” Cuts
1. Use the long point of the skew. (NOTE: Do not press the long
point of the skew directly into the work piece to create the “V”;
this will result in a burned or burnished “V” with fibers being rolled
up at both sides.)
2. Lightly mark the center of the “V” with the tip of the skew.
3. Move the point of the skew to the right half of the desired width
of the cut.
4. With the bevel parallel to the right side of the cut, raise the
handle and push the tool in to the desired depth.
5. Repeat from the left side. The two cuts should meet at the
bottom and leave a clean “V” cut.
6. Additional cuts may be taken to add to either the depth or
width of the cut.
Parting Off
1. Use the parting tool.
2. Adjust the lathe speed to a lower RPM for parting through a
work piece.
3. Place the tool on the tool support and raise the handle until
it starts to cut. Continue to cut toward the center of the work
4. Loosely hold on to the piece in one hand as it separates from
the waste wood.
• Track Saw
A track saw is a plunge-cut circular saw and guide rail system that
is a precision piece of equipment. The combination of a plunge-cut
saw and a guide rail creates a system that generates precision cuts
up to 2 3/16 inches at 90 degrees and 1 11/16 inches at 45 degrees
anywhere on a panel quickly and safely.
The plunge cut/guide rail
can be used to complete
a number of familiar tasks:
ripping sheet goods,
creating straight edges
on rough stock, jointing
boards, cutting to scribe
lines on doors and cabinets,
cross-cutting, and creating
openings in panels, sections
of flooring and cabinets.
Basic Operation
1. Set the guide-rail along the desired cut line for the type of cut
being performed. Track clamps fasten to the underside of the
track to secure it to the work
2. Connect the dust extractor hose to the plunge saw exhaust port
and turn the dust extractor on. Place the saw on the guide rail.
3. Keep the machine steady during switching and during use by
holding the handles with both hands.
4. To turn the saw on first, push the cut-in and release block
forward and then press the on/off switch.
5. Allow the motor to reach full speed; then press the machine
down, and release the cut-in and release block.
NOTE: NEVER reach under work piece with saw in cutting
position as the blade is exposed on bottom side of the cut.
6. When cutting is complete, release the on/off switch, and wait
for the blade to come to a complete stop.
• Table Saw
The table saw is used to make straight cuts with the aid of either
a fence or a miter gauge. The table saw is used primarily for
making rip cuts and cross cuts. A rip cut is a cut made lengthwise
through the stock. A cross cut is a cut made widthwise across
the stock. Additionally, the table saw is used to make bevel cuts,
rabbet cuts and dado cuts. Dado and rabbet cuts are made
using a stacked dado set (a set of interlocking, stackable blades
used to make cuts of varying width.) The stock cut on a table saw
MUST have one straight, jointed edge, and one flat face to lie flat
on the table without rocking.
SawStop Specific Information
A SawStop is a table saw that features a patented automatic
braking system that stops the saw within milliseconds if its blade
comes into contact with the operator’s hand or other body part
while the blade is rotating. The brake will activate if the blade is
touched even if machine is off while the blade is in coast down.
SawStop saws apply a small amount of electric voltage to the
blade of the saw. The current through the blade is continuously
monitored. If the saw detects a change in this current (as would
occur if a hand or other body part came into contact with the
blade) an automatic braking system is activated, forcing an
aluminum brake block into the blade. The saw stops within 5
milliseconds, and angular momentum lowers the blade into the
table. The operator suffers a small nick instead of an amputation
or other more serious injury. The design takes advantage of the
difference in electrical conductivity (similar to a GFI circuit) between
wood and flesh.
Restrictions and limitations:
• The braking system must be deactivated when cutting very
green pressure-treated or wet timber, aluminum and any
lumber with possible embedded nails or staples.
• Many composite materials may also require the system to be
deactivated for testing.
• Activating the braking system often damages one to two teeth
on the blade
• Non-conductive blades or blades with non-conductive hubs or
teeth cannot be used.
• The braking system is designed to work with blades that have
kerfs from 3/32 to 3/16 inch; using thinner or thicker kerfs limits
the saw’s ability to stop the blade after accidental contact,
likely resulting in more serious injury.
• 8 inch stacked dado sets are the only dado blades to be used.
• It is impractical to retrofit SawStop technology into an existing
table saw.
Basic Operation
1. The table saw, for basic cuts, uses three types of 10 inch saw
blades that are 1/8 inch thick. A combination blade will perform
both rip and crosscut operations. A rip blade is used to make
cuts with the long grain or length of the stock. A crosscut blade
is used to make cuts across the grain or width of the stock. The
table saw blade may only be changed by shop staff. The blade
guard must be on at all times when the type of cut permits its
2. Raise the blade guard. Examine the two turning wheels
below the saw. The knobs in the center of the wheels are lock
3. The wheel located in the front raises and lowers the blade. Raise
the blade so that 1/8 to ½ inch is exposed above the material.
Tighten the knob to lock it in place. The second dial to the right
is used to adjust the angle of the blade. Once the desired angle
is set, tighten the knob to lock it in place.
4. It is important to check the angle of the blade before use. If
the blade is not set correctly, you will not obtain an accurate
cut. Do not rely on the built-in scale for accurate angle
Push Sticks and Blocks
When the clearance between the blade and fence is too
narrow to safely push materials through by hand, push sticks
and blocks are used to feed material along the rip fence and
complete a rip cut. A push stick or block allows you to keep your
hand safely above the blade while working close to it. A push stick
or block should be used any time a rip cut requires that your hand
be less than 4 inches from the blade. A push block offers more
positive control of a work piece than a push stick and, therefore, is
the preferred method.
Push Stick Safety
• Never make a cut that requires you to cut the push stick. Push
blocks are designed to be “sacrificial” and can pass directly
over the blade along the rip fence. This method allows thin
pieces to be ripped safely while keeping the blade covered,
thus protecting the hand.
• Never turn the push stick or block while cutting. Keep it in line
with the blade.
• Position your body off to the side (facing the fence) so that if
the stick is thrown it will go past your body.
• Keep your fingertips at the shoulder of the stick and clear of
the blade.
• Push sticks should be held firmly but not with a tight fist in case
the stick is grabbed and thrown by the blade.
• Never run a push stick under a guard.
CAUTION: Kickback
Friction is created in any cutting process and is a necessary and
inherent condition. Cutting tools are designed to function properly
within an acceptable range of normal operating friction. If friction
between a material and the cutting tool becomes too intense,
binding will occur. Typically when binding occurs, the material will be
thrown with great force in the direction that the blade is turning; this
is called kickback. Serious injury can result from kickback. Whenever
possible, keep your face and body out of the line of potential
kickback, including when starting or stopping the machine.
Causes of Kickback
• Turning the material during the cutting process.
• Confining the cutoff piece.
• Not completing the cut or not pushing the work piece all the
way past the saw blade.
• Not using the blade guard (splitter) or riving knife.
• Cutting warped or damaged material.
NOTE: Never attempt to cut a piece that does not lay flat on
the saw table. A piece that rocks on its corners will most likely
bind with the blade through the cut and get kicked back.
• Dull blades.
• Inappropriate material.
Making a Rip Cut
NOTE: Rip cuts always require the use of the rip fence. Never
attempt to rip stock freehand.
Rip cut with push block
1. Set the blade angle and height, and lock the rip fence into the
desired position. A blade guard or riving knife should always be
used when making rip cuts. This will increase the quality of the
cut and provide a greater margin of safety.
2. Place push sticks where you can reach them. Sticks/blocks can
be placed on top of the rip fence for quick easy access.
3. Turn the saw on, allow blade to reach its full speed, and place
materials at the edge
of the table away from
the blade. Maintain your
position on the in-feed side
of the machine during all
operations. You should stand
close to the saw and next to
the material.
4. It is best to position yourself
facing the blade side of
the fence, so that you are
pressing the material against
the fence and into the table
with your guide hand yet out
of the potential “line of fire”
from a possible kickback.
5. Maintain steady pressure
on your work. Press it down
toward the table and
against the fence as you
feed your material through
Standing out of the line of fire
the blade at a steady rate.
during a rip cut
6. The hand that is used to
support the material should
not move. As the cut nears the blade, use a push stick or block
to feed the material completely past the blade guard assembly
with your feed hand. Release the cut-off piece as it leaves your
guide hand.
7. Do not reach over the moving blade to retrieve materials or try
to remove scrap materials while the blade is moving, even when
using a push stick. Turn off the saw before you walk away. The
blade must come to a complete stop before removing material
Making a Cross Cut
A cross cut is made using a miter gauge that rides in the miter
slots or a designated cross cut sled. A cross-cut sled is a platform
that rides in one or both miter slots and can safely and accurately
make cross cuts.
NOTE: A sled or miter gauge is always required. Cross cuts should
never be made freehand.
1. Set the blade angle and height, and lock the miter gauge angle
into the desired position.
2. Turn the saw on, and place your material at the edge of the
table, away from the blade.
3. Hold the wood against the miter head with the guide hand,
and use the feed hand to advance the miter gauge and wood
through the cut. Ensure that your stock engages the entire face
of the miter gauge. A wooden auxiliary fence may be used on a
miter gauge to help secure long stock. Fine sandpaper (220 grit)
may be placed on the auxilary fence to keep the stock from
sliding. An auxilary fence will also backup a cut to help prevent
tear-out and to push the off-cut piece past the blade.
4. When using a miter gauge, be sure to push the wood past the
blade in a forward movement only. Dragging the wood back
against the blade may cause serious injury.
5. Do not reach over the moving blade to retrieve wood or try to
remove scrap wood while the blade is moving.
6. Turn off the saw before you walk away. The blade must come to
a complete stop before removing wood.
Miter gauge with auxilary fence
Cross-cut sled
Making A Dado Cut
A stacked dado blade is used for cutting a wide groove in the
work piece or cutting a rabbet along the edge (either with or
across the grain) of a work piece. A dado cut is a groove cut
across the grain whereas a groove cut is with the grain. The dado
blade is for slot cutting only and should not be used to produce
through cuts. A blade guard is not used. A special table insert is
required to match the additional width of the dado blade. Set the
blade to the depth you are cutting.
Auxilary Fence Use
When making a rabbet cut, use a sacrificial, (auxilary) rip fence
with the blade partially buried in the fence. Achieving a buried
blade is a combination of adjusting the auxilary fence over the
blade, starting the saw and then raising the spinning blade into
the auxilary fence. Shop staff will assist with this during a first-time
experience. It is important to raise the blade into wood only, as
contact with the metal rip fence will cause safety brake actuation.
Note: Shop staff is required to install a Dado Blade on the machine
as it will require a different insert and SawStop Brake to be installed.
Rabbets on a Table Saw
A dado set works well for rabbets too, but you’ll need to bury
it partially in a sacrificial fence that is attached to the saw’s rip
• Chisel and Utility Knives
Chisels and knives are an integral part of woodworking and, to
do their intended job they must be extremely sharp. Dull chisels
and knives can be more dangerous than sharp tools as they will
slip when they are supposed to cut. They may be too dull to do
their intended job but sharp enough to severely cut skin. Cuts
from chisels and knives are one of the most common injuries in
Basic Chisel Safety
1. Always keep your hands and body behind
the chisel.
2. Clamp/secure your work for stability.
3. Chisel away small amounts of stock, known
as “pairing”. Use direct force with one hand
while stabilizing the chisel blade with the
4. A mallet—never a steel hammer— can be
used with a chisel to apply greater force
while chopping down as opposed to pairing off small amounts
of stock.
5. Never use a chisel as a pry bar or as a screwdriver.
Basic Knife Safety
1. Use a straight edge when cutting straight
lines. Spread your hand over the length of
the straight edge for stability and control.
Use a sharp blade.
2. You will need to pull the knife toward you for strength and
control. Pull the knife toward the side of your body. Your hand or
body should NEVER be in the line of the cut.
3. Make a scoring cut on your first pass, and use additional cuts
until the desired depth is reached.
4. Use clamps or vices to secure stock that is shaped and not flat.
5. Retract blade when not in use if possible.
Upon completion of this course, read and sign the Verification
of Receipt and Release located at the end of this book and
return it to the shop staff.
A Woodlawn Arts Academy Program
3807 Woodlawn Road • Sterling, IL 61081 • (815) 625-4ART (4278)
This program is partially supported by a
grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
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