Picture of SLO MakerSpace Basic Safety

Every new member of SLO MakerSpace, must first take the free Basic Safety class and pass the test. Our Safety Guru, Kory, has put together this outline for you to preview and review.

Build, learn, hack, and be safe!

Disclaimer: This Basic Safety guide does not cover every eventuality, does not in any way guarantee safety, and cannot replace common sense when dealing with all tools.

Step 1: First things first . . .

General items:
  1. Waivers must be signed for all involved parties (link)
    1. Adult signatures for minors is required
  2. The makerspace is a community of workers and makers, often times the people next to you may require your help, or you may require theirs. Thus, we always encourage the habit of getting to know one another.
  3. This brings us to one of the most important aspects of this safety introduction -ALWAYS ask questions!
    1. Questions help everything run smoothly: they keep the shop safe, tools in use, and all members healthy!
    2. Never be afraid to ask questions!
  4. The Worktraders and shop managers are here to help!
  5. Gurus – Each specific zone has its own “gurus” who know all the ins and outs of different machines and processes. They are the perfect resource for any project, and can be contacted at their designated guru night or just through email. All of this information is available online and on the calendar
  6. Finally, when each of you sign up to be members, you received a digital copy of our shop safety manual (linked here), on which this test is based. This manual is also available online and at the public computer on the front desk. Within it is specific instructions for each tool we have in the shop. USE IT!!

Member Rights and Responsibilities:

Please review the Membership Agreement here, which also contains the Rights and Responsibilities. As you all are soon to be new members it is important that we discuss the rights and responsibilities of all members. This is what you can expect from the maker space, and what we expect of you.

  • You have the right to a safe work environment
    • This means being safe yourself and keeping an eye out for the safety of others -safety is everyone’s concern, and we all have to work together to address unsafe situations at all scales
  • This goes hand in hand with two of your other responsibilities:
    • You have the responsibility be safe
    • You have the responsibility to report misconduct -you have the right to free scrap and/or new materials
  • The makerspace gets a lot of donations and it is the right of our members to have access to these scraps. Often they are stored in the material room, however, always double check for labels, signs, and makerspace employee before just taking
  • You have the right and responsibility to a clean shop
    • This means putting your tools away where you got them, taking your projects home, and cleaning up whatever dust, scrap, fluids, and parts that you were working with.
  • Leave the shop better than you found it!
  • You DO NOT have the right to use a piece of equipment whenever you wish
  • Prescheduled classes, courses, guru hours, and reservations ALWAYS take precedent over the rights of the users!
  • Clean up starts at 10:30 sharp!!!!

Step 2: Clean Up!

Clean Up

-Before leaving the MakerSpace there are certain things that you MUST do

-first, make sure all of the machines and equipment you used are OFF and disengaged

-for machines with specific settings, or bits, always make sure to return it to the setting easiest for the next user to adjust. Often this means removing your bit and returning it to storage.

-return all of your tools to their proper locations

-our storage system is a form of communication, and we all use it to make our independent processes more efficient.

-thus it is important to always observe where you take your tool from, and then return it to that place

-clean your work areas

– organize, dust, sweep, and vacuum your work pieces, surfaces, and areas. -we encourage the state park mantra: leave it better than you found it

-you are NOT allowed to leave your project out -this is very important

-we allow for TEMPORARY storage of projects WITH APPROVAL

-ALWAYS plan to take your materials home with you at the end of your day

-right behind safety, clean up and care for the shop is the most important responsibility of the users at the makerspace. Your membership will be suspended and revoked for negligence in cleaning and care for the shop, so always respect for the shop and respect for your fellow makers

Step 3: Hand Tools

Picture of Hand Tools

-In order to form a basic foundation for all tools throughout the shop we will begin by discussing our
various hand tools

-we will only cover a few of these tools, but it is important to remember that their principles of use are important throughout the shop


-wrenches serve as a strong gripping leverage arm, most commonly used to loosen and tighten nuts and bolts.

-at the MS we have multiple different types of wrenches, of which pliers are a similar type of tool.

-always make sure your wrench/plier is snuggly fit onto your workpiece, and additionally that your workpiece is securely held or clamped for the forece you will be applying to it.

-this insures that we do not strip our tools (when your workpiece damages the tool by twisting in its incorrectly adjusted jaws) or strip your workpiece (visa-versa)

-adjusting wrench





-always operate your wrench toward your body as to not hurt your hand or forearm when a stuck workpiece breaks free

-do not use an extension tube, excessive force, or a hammer to operate a wrench.


-now understanding how a wrench operates, we can go on to the process of creating the pieces that wrenches operate on!

-taps and dies function to put threads (the mechanism by which nuts and bolts tighten and loosen) on the interior of a metal hole, or the exterior of a metal cylinder respectively

-securely clamp your workpiece

-always use tapping fluid to prevent metal to metal contact

-to begin the cutting action turn a the tool 1⁄4 turn, then reverse to break off the chips of metal that were sheared away. This prevents the tools teeth from filling with scrap metal, giving you a better cut and maintaining the tool life

-and just as before, it is never necessary to use excessive force when using these tools

-sheet metal shears and tin snips

-these tools function to cut through various types of thin (high) gauge sheet metal

-when using these tools, always wear gloves, the edges of the sheet metal are extremely sharp, both before and after cutting

-and of course, don’t force!

-you will find the principles that govern our handtools to be important throughout the shop. -Always select the right tool for the job!

-tools should fit snugly

-workpieces should be clamped or held tightly

-tools should always operate easily and under control!

-tools are designed to make it easier, if you’re straining to get the job done, you’re probably using the wrong tool or process. ASK!

Step 4: Injuries and MSDS

Injuries and MSDS

-before finishing up with the Workspace, we have to discuss two final aspects of Safety at the Makerspace. -Hazardous Materials and Work Practicies

-while most materials one might purchase from typical hardware stores are acceptable, we must always heed safe work practices at the Makerspace

-when these cannot be found on the side of the product they can often be found in the form of an MSDS, or Material Safety Data Sheet

-this discusses everything from material composition to safe work practices

-if you have a Hazardous or potentially Hazardous Material you wish to use at the MakerSpace, bring its MSDS and discuss it with the shop manager or a worktrader. Usually we will be able to accommodate your request


-Finally, with the MS being a somewhat dangerous place, injuries are bound to occur. If and when they do, members must ALWAYS report them to the MakerSpace staff.

-this is very important because it allows us to address the subtly dangerous situations around the shop, both through infrastructure (additional safety guards, guides, ect) and through the safety course. We are always collecting data on how to make the shop better and safer, so be sure to report your injuries!

-Serious injuries

-serious injuries are situations that require immediate or emergency medical attention.

In the case of a serious injury three things MUST occur. -all machines must be turned off

-a MS employee must be notified

-911 must be dialed, either by member or staff

Step 5: Dremel Station

Picture of Dremel Station

We will now use the dremel station as an introduction to the safety practices concerning power tools

-the dremel tool series is characterized by consistent tool body that can plug into a variety of different housings. These then operate as low-powered, small scale, versions of other power tools for use in delicate and precise projects.

-whenever approaching any powertool we must do several things before actually putting it to use. -First and foremost, understand clearly what it is you want the tool to do!

-make sure you have on ALL of the appropriate safety equipment. For the dremel station (due to its quickly rotating parts) this includes a facesheild as well as safety glasses -next, unplug the machine, visually inspecting the cord for any frays or damages

-adjust and ensure the correct safety guards are in place. Tighten vices, clamps, and collets as appropriate. Make sure the tool itself is secured as well!

-insert the correct bit or blade for what you intend to do, tightening it securely. Additionally set up spindle speed and cut parameters

-After all is set up and the machine is in the OFF position, reinsert the cord into the socket!

-The last major concern for all tools is to NEVER start the tool when it is touching material! This means once everything is ready, make sure the blade and motor are entirely free. Turn the tool on, allow it to get up to speed, and then begin work! Additionally, do not pull away material, walk away, or set the tool down until the tool until it has finished spinning completely!!

-you will find that with almost every tool, there is a clear intersection of safety, work quality and tool life. By moving through the appropriate steps slowly and consciously we can remain in this zone. The old adage of “measure twice, cut once” although cliche’ remains pertinent

-now that we understand the basic premises of powertools, we can safely approach the other powertools throughout the shop. This includes those associated with sewing pottery and electronics. If it is hooked up to electricity then ALWAYS make sure to follow these steps! -here at the dremel station also can function as a small scale power saw

-this illustrates a basic dichotomy in almost all tools: bits versus blades. Blades operate in a planar direction, while bits operate as a point. Its not based on how it looks, or how it connects to the machine, but instead how it acts on and displaces material

-always be conscious of hands. Knowing, most importantly where your thumbs are. -make sure your whole hands are visible, securely holding the work piece, out of the plane of the blade, and a comfortable distance away from the cutting action

Step 6: Clay Room

Picture of Clay Room

-When using the clay room at the MakerSpace there are a few basic safety concerns, along with habits all

users must follow.

-first, always obey the specific instructions for our clay room when dealing with raw clay, storage, and waste.

-these instructions are clearly posted to the walls, with specific questions to be directed to Sara, our clay guru

-additionally, we have basic instructions online and in the room concerning throwing for beginners

-safety in the clay room centers around the clay wheel

-always tie back long hair, necklaces, hoodie strings, ect

-always keep your hands firmly on the workpiece while the wheel is in motion, this prevents pieces from spinning out of control and flying across the room

Step 7: Electronics Station

Picture of Electronics Station

-the electronic station is a wonderful resource in the MakerSpace where members can tackle a variety of

electronic projects

-For all projects, two of the most important tools are the soldering iron and heat gun

-soldering allows one to physically and electrically connect two electric apparatus with a low melting metal called solder

-we always use lead free solder in the MS, just look on the label

-the heat gun functions to apply concentrated heat to specific areas to loosen parts or activate heat shrink, a material that can further protect and fortify a solder joint

-both of these items are to be treated as if they are plugged in and HOT.

-they can both cause severe burns, so it is important to be vigilant and not lay the tools out or reach for them indiscriminately. ALWAYS unplug them after use!

-NEVER solder on plugged in electronics, for you chance connecting your hand directly to the power source!

-additionally, unplugged electronics are not guaranteed safe! Batteries and capacitors function to store energy and can still provide dangerous shocks. -always be understand and be conscious of what you’re working on!

Step 8: Sewing

Picture of Sewing

the sewing machine operates on a similar principle to saws, in that it has a plane the action operates in.

However, with the sewing machine, it also mechanically pulls the material through with a mechanism below the foot.

-because of this, always be very cautious of the plane of the needle. Keep your hands out of the plane and be cautious of the material moving through the machine

-aside from the safety concerns governing saws and powertools, one must additionally be very careful when threading the needle or dealing with the bobbin.

-ALWAYS unplug the machine before doing anything in these areas, it is a very dangerous place for fingers when the machine is operating.

-most modern machines will allow you to unplug just from the back of the machine, making this step especially easy.

Step 9: WorkShop Introduction


In the workshop we will cover the tools most often utilized for general making. We will not be able to touch on everything, so what is important is that you understand the basic tenants of machine safety; knowing how to identify and respond to dangerous situations. Again, as is always true at the MakerSpace, ASK IF YOU DO NOT KNOW!

In the workshop we have two major tool groups: wood and metal. There are many tools that are specific to these two groups, however, there are also tools that can be used for both.

One of the most important components of working with powertools is knowing what you’re working on and making sure the tool can handle it; adjusting the tool appropriately.

We will begin by covering tools that mainly work with wood, typically the softer of the two material groups. Again, this will not cover everything, nor will it cover all the tools, so if you have a question, now or tomorrow, ASK!

We will begin talking about the woodworking tools, starting with rougher processes and finishing with finer operations.

Step 10: Circular Saw Types

Picture of Circular Saw Types

The first group of saws we will discuss are all circular in nature. This means they operate with a spinning
circular blade that has multiple teeth along its outside edge. As these teeth pass through the material they subtract it in a line. These saws tend to have a large plane of blade, well- suited for straight cuts, and tend to have a lot of power. Be especially mindful of the forces these saws exert, often they can act like a spinning wheel, pulling along the cut or causing your stock itself to rotate. Always remember that these saws tend to have about an 1/8th thickness. These blades totally eliminate their width from your material so always be conscious of which side of your line you want to cut on. Don’t cut on your line! Pick a side!

First is the circular saw. This saw is especially effective for angled cutting in large sheets of material, or for material too awkward or large for the table saw.

-first, remember what we discussed on the space side. Foresight, force, and fit.

-ask your self: “we need to use the circular saw here because…

-we must clamp our material to deal with the forces of the saw. Typically this means two clamps on the workpiece to keep it from shifting or rotating.

-additionally we must support the piece overhanging as well. Pieces not sufficiently supported run the risk of flexing as the blade cuts through the material and pinching it as the material stock weakens. This will cause the saw to jump or bind, both of which are bad for your work and your tools. Use one or two adjustable work rests to make sure this doesn’t occur

–inspect the tool (with it unplugged) checking the blade and the general wellbeing of saw -next, adjust the tool so that roughly .25” of the blade is protruding through the material. Do this by loosening the nut on the right-hand side of the tool, manually adjusting the foot, and then tightening the nut

-this is mainly for safety’s sake, less blade exposed is better.

-finally, with everything set up, LOOK DOWN THE LINE OF YOUR CUT

-you do not want to take off the corner of the table, or destroy the saw on a bench vice or on the adjustable workrests! Look and be sure!

Next is the table saw. This saw is particularly effective for making long, accurate, straight cuts, especially in large sheet materials. It is powerful, but it is one of the most dangerous in the shop. Its blade is very large and spins at roughly 200mph. However, when used intelligently, it is incredibly effective.

-The first major danger of the table saw is its blade. In use, it exerts a lot of force on the material and can be quite exposed.

-Observe the plane of the blade! Always keep your hands out of this line! That way if anything slips, your hands will remain away from the cutting action.

-next, ALWAYS have push sticks and push blocks handy. They are almost always stored on top of the rip fence. They help you grip the material and help you apply consistent and controlled force through the cut. You should always use push sticks and blocks on any cuts under 10” wide.

-finally, make sure all the safety guards are in place and adjusted correctly. Again, we’re looking for about .25” of blade protrusion through the material, just enough for the troughs to clear the wood.

-fortunately at the MS we have a “SawStop” table saw. These saws operate with an electrical current running through the blade at all times. This current is precisely calibrated so that when it comes into contact with material that is beyond typical kiln dried lumber, it immediately slams a large piece of aluminum into the blade and drops it below the surface. This technology is so quick that contacting the blade with your body will result in only a small cut, whereas with most table saws one would lose a finger, if not more.

-however, this technology is not perfect. Because it operates via an electric current, it is extremely important we avoid cutting anything conductive. This ranges from aluminum backed foams, to pressure treated lumber (treated with heavy metals) to reclaimed lumber with lead based paint or hidden nails. All of these materials run the risk of setting off the sensor and destroying the saw blade. DO NOT CUT THESE MATERIALS WITH THE SAW.

-additionally, new wood that has not been adequately dried can set off the sensor. You can test the wood by touching it to the side of the blade with the saw on but not running, checking to make sure the RED light is not flashing.

-at the SLOMAS we can turn the sensor off so please don’t try and fudge something that youre not 100% confident about. Come and talk to a worktrader and we can switch the sensor off for you. Setting of the sensor destroys the blade and takes the tool out of operation for about a week! Don’t take the risk!

-now that we have a basic understanding of the table saw’s operation, we can address the second major danger of the table saw: kickback.

-kickback occurs when pressure is applied to a non-cutting surface of the blade. -this happens in two major ways:

-first, you must always be cautious when moving your material through the blade of the table saw. Unlike the circular saw, the TS cuts as you move the material through it. To insure an accurate cut, one must apply force through the saw in two ways; forward through the blade for cutting and sideways to the fence to ensure accuracy.

-the saw’s design indicates your posture. Stand with your left knee closest to the ON/OFF switch, staggered with your right for support. Stay out of the area between the blade and the fence. Make sure no one or nothing is back there either.

-Remember as the saw begins to engage the material, it begins to create a joint, just as we discussed with the CS. Always observe the point at which the saw engages the material and NEVER apply pressure towards the fence beyond this point!!!! Applying pressure beyond that point does not keep the material against the fence, it chokes the blade from the sides, pinching it between your material. With the table saw, there is too much force and too much weight behind they saw, and when the blade gets pinched, it will violently throw the material.

-next, we DO NOT use the rip fence and the miter gauge simultaneously. As a general rule, the rip fence is designed to cut materials longer than they are wide. The miter gauge is for the opposite, materials wider than they are long. It is very tempting on a wide piece of stock to set the fence to a dimension and then use the miter gauge to push it through. However when the saw engages the material it begins to apply back pressure. This pressure rotates the piece around the miter gauge pushing it against the inside of the blade. As the cut progresses this rotation creates too much pressure and causes kickback. This is why we choose one or the other when making cuts AND NEVER BOTH! -QUESTIONS?!

Thefinalsawinthecircularfamilyisthecrosscutormiterorchopsaw. Thissawwasoriginally designed to make precise angular cuts ACROSS the grain of long material stock. Although these saws can also be used to cut engineered materials they are designed to cut through a stock’s SHORT DIMENSION.

-When using this tool, always keep your hands out of the clearly marked “NO HANDS” zone. -often this will not be an issue, but occasionally you will have to get creative with clamps and pressure in order to totally secure your stock.

-be conscious when cutting material that may not be totally square. If it is circular or partially circular, it may want to rotate when you engage them with the saw.

-this saw is very effective at cutting the same length of material repeatedly. Utilizing our clamp jig will allow one the ability to not have to continually measure and re-measure your cuts.

-remember the material subtracted by the saw blade!

-these tools typically have the ability to rotate to angles in order to help you make joints, sometimes in both plan and section

-for the most part the indicators on the saw cannot be trusted! If it’s important, measure

with a protractor and a speed square!

-we have two compound miter saws at the MS, the DELTA and the TERRATEK. The TERRATEK is a sliding compound Miter saw, which gives it a larger cut capacity.

-This saw requires an additional safety concern. ALWAYS pull the saw out to its full extension before cutting! Because of the circular blade and the sliding function, if the

saw is not pulled out fully when you begin the cut it will “run” out towards you. This is dangerous! Know your tools and their forces, being sure its forces are being resolved safely!!!

-The process with this tool then becomes: place material, pull out saw to full extension, activate the saw, slowly push it down, and push it through the material until the conclusion of the cut. Lift up the blade and release the power trigger!

Step 11: Perpendicular Bladed Saws

Picture of Perpendicular Bladed Saws

Next we will discuss perpendicular bladed saws. These include the jig saw, the scroll saw, and the band

saw. Although similar, each of these operates in a different fashion, so it is really important to observe the distinct uses and strengths of each.

-the jigsaw operates in a manner reminiscent of a hand saw. Just as a handsaw subtracts material as you repeatedly drag it back and forth, the jigsaw does this same action on a smaller, faster scale. The motor moves a small blade up and down beneath the foot of the saw, subtracting material and allowing the user to cut along curved lines in thin stock.

-one of the most important safety considerations of the jig saw is ensuring your material stock is securely clamped or held. The jig saw applies a lot of jerky up-and-down force to your material, so its important it be properly secured.

-operate the jigsaw with a slight downward/neutral pressure. Make sure the foot of the saw is always in contact with the material, and as with all tools, NEVER start the motor unless the tool is totally unengaged. No moving parts should be touching the tool until it reaches operating speed!

-next! The jigsaw has a huge variety of potential materials it can be used on. To ensure a good, safe, and efficient cut, ALWAYS select the bit appropriate for the job. As a general rule, finer toothed blades (many small teeth) are more appropriate for harder materials (metals), while coarse tooth blades (fewer larger teeth) are more appropriate for soft materials (wood, some plastics, ect.). You always want to be sure, so at the MS we advocate members to purchase blades specifically for their project, so they know its perfect! Blades typically will say which materials they are designed for on the packaging.

-Additionally, make sure you’re using the right blade for the saw. This means using a “T-shank” style blade for our blue Ryobi saw and a “eye-shank” blade for our red Skill saw

-once you have the material and the tool adjusted and secured correctly you can begin cutting. -again, work slowly, letting the machine subtract at its pace. Be conscious of twisting the blade while in the material, in order to make curves you must move forward while rotating in order to get a smooth radius.

-When finished, remove the blade, stick it to the magnetic strip above its shelf andplace the jig- saw (with cord wrapped) back on its shelf.

-Don’t forget to clean!

Step 12: Other Tools and Tips

Other tools in the shop include:



Chop(miter) Jig

Drill press Sanding

Grinder Benchtop grinder Wire wheel

Air tools

the skillsaw can be understood like a handheld tablesaw. using its foot we can run it along a pre-made guide to produce the four sides of our shelves. it is useful for both quick cuts and measured angled cuts in large sheets of material.

miter/chop saw

this saw is great for cutting long stock into different lengths. it will allow us to cut an angle into our sides for the bottom shelf.


the tablesaw is an accurate, powerful tool for cutting very straight lines through material. using the rip fence and miter gauge, we will cut the shelf planes.

drill press

the drill press is good for drilling precise, perpendicular, holes in a variety of material types. we will use it to create holes to hang our lathe tools.


the bandsaw is a an effective tool for cutting curves. because of its totally perpendicular plane of blade it is also useful for carving out pockets in material. we will use it to give our holes a relief to slide the tool through for easy storage.