Woodworking Safety Day: Eye Protection

Today is Woodworking Safety Day. It’s not a nationally recognized designation, but rather the 5-year-old brain child of Marc Spagnuolo over at The Wood Whisperer. In honor of woodworking safety, I’d like to talk a bit about eye protection.

A few years back, I was working with some friends framing a house the old-fashioned way—with hammer and nails. The head of my hammer glanced off the head of a fresh nail, causing it to go airborne. The head of the nail hit me square in the eye. I got off with a visit to the eye doctor and no long-term damage, but it could have been worse. Much worse. Had I been wearing the proper protection, my story would be different.

Eye safety devices come in a wide assortment and are often task-specific. OSHA has a comprehensive guide to eye protection that is worth a look over.


Safety glasses

Standard Safety Glasses

Norm is right. There is no more important tool than these safety glasses. I wear a pair whenever I am working with my machines and when I work with metal. If there is material flying, I’m wearing safety glasses. I keep a pair in my truck just in case I need them while out and about. They come in all shapes and styles, and they even come tinted for those of you who need some UV protection as well. Find a pair that suits you and use them.


Safety Goggles

German Safety Goggles. Much cooler than the science-class standard.

I don’t wear corrective lenses of any type, but if I did, I would probably wear goggles more often. I have a plastic/rubber pair that doesn’t see much action. They don’t work well with my respirator and are simply uncomfortable. However, I found an awesome pair of German Goggles a few years back and I love them. You can swap out the lenses for UV protection or even for welding. They protect the eyes from the side, don’t fog up, and are just cool in general. Because the side protection is opaque, I find they restrict my peripheral vision. This is good while sawing, but bad when maneuvering lumber.


Face Shield

Face Shield for all those flying wood chips. And metal shards.

They’re great for full-face protection while using a chain saw or a lathe, or doing some serious metal grinding. Some manufacturers make models that fit snugly to the face and act as respirators as well. A shaded shield is mandatory for plasma- or torch-cutting metal. I’d like to avoid molten metal in the face, thank you. The face shield is really meant as a secondary measure, so be sure to wear those safety glasses underneath. I don’t need mine often, but when I do, I’m sure glad they are there.


 Shaded Safety Glasses

Standard Safety Glasses

I know, these really aren’t for woodworking, but from time to time, I do a little metal work. The oxy-acetylene torch is particularly fun in a Medieval sort of way. It’s important to protect your eyes from the debris and from the UV light emitted by the torch. They look a little like “Revenge of the Nerds,” but these flip-up shaded safety glasses are perfect for the job.

Safety in the shop doesn’t stop with eye protection; it’s also important to protect your ears and your lungs. And be sure to read and understand the manuals that came with your tools.

Here are few more safety resources over at DIY Network:

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About Dan Lipe 


I’m a Senior Interaction Designer, focused on creating compelling and intuitive user experiences. During my 15+ years in the design field, I’ve worked in print, corporate identity and digital media ...

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