Fire Safety

Considering the number of flammable materials and potential ignition sources in awoodworking shop, fire prevention shouldbe one ofyour foremost safety concerns. Sawdust, wood, paint, and thinners tend to accumulate; often they are near tools that produce sparks and heat. The combination can prove volatile: When vaporized in a small enough concentration of air, a small quantity of lacquer thinner, for example, can be ignited by a spark from a tool and cause a life-threatening explosion.

Thefirst step in fire safety is prevention. All finishing products and solvents, for example, should be stored away from heat sources in airtight glass or metal containers, preferably in a fireproof cabinet (page 89). Hang rags soaked with flammable chemicals to dry outdoors, or soak them in water and store them in sealed metal containers.When working with finishing products, keep windows open and the shop well ventilated.

Be prepared to deal with a fire effectively. Install a smoke detector on the shop ceiling or a wall, and keep an ABC fire extinguisher nearby. Design a fire evacuationplan that maps out two possible escape routes from each room of the building in which the shop is located. If the fire involves an electric tool, a power cord, or an electricaloutlet, shut off the power. Call the fire department immediately,inform them of the nature of the fire, and try to extinguish the blaze yourself. But if the flames cannot be contained, or the fire is coming from inside a wall or ceiling, evacuate the building.

PREPARING AGAINST FIRE

Installinga smoke detector

Open the cover of the detector, hold the base on the ceiling or wall, and mark the screw holes. Bore a hole for a screw anchor at each mark. Tap the anchors into the holes and, holding the detector in position, drive a screw into each anchor to secure the base fright). Install a battery and close the detector cover. Test the device once every month. First, press the test button. Then, blow out a lit match or candle below a vent, letting smoke enter it. Replace the battery if the alarm does not sound for both tests-or if it emits a chirping sound, indicating the battery is weak.

Controlling a fire

To extinguish a small, contained fire, use an ABC-rated dry-chemical fire extinguisher, which is effective against all three major classes of fires: burning wood or other combustibles (Class A), oil- or grease-fed flames (Class B), and electrical blazes (Class C). Position yourself a safe distance from the fire with your back to the nearest exit. Holding the extinguisher upright, pull the lock pin out of the handle (inset)and aim the nozzle at the base of the flames. Squeeze the handle and spray in a quick, side-to-side motion (left) until the fire is out. Watch for "flashback," or rekindling, and be prepared to spray again. Ifthe fire spreads, leave the building. Dispose of burned waste following the advice of the fire department. After use, have the extinguisher professionally recharged; replace it if it is non-rechargeable.

Wood Working 101

Wood Working 101

Have you ever wanted to begin woodworking at home? Woodworking can be a fun, yet dangerous experience if not performed properly. In The Art of Woodworking Beginners Guide, we will show you how to choose everything from saws to hand tools and how to use them properly to avoid ending up in the ER.

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