In the Workshop
WHILE EXTREME CARE HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED IN THE
PREPARATION OF THIS SELF-HELP DOCUMENT, THE AUTHOR AND/OR PROVIDERS OF
THIS DOCUMENT ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS, NOR IS
ANY LIABILITY ASSUMED FROM THE USE OF THE INFORMATION, CONTAINED IN THIS
DOCUMENT, BY THE AUTHOR and / OR PROVIDER.
Read the legal disclaimer page - click the legal link in the menu
So you would like to set up a workshop, perhaps in the basement, take
over part of the garage, or in an external building from the main home.
Unless you are only using small occasional use tools, you will have to
plan carefully what your power requirements are as new circuits to
handle the electrical demand for your new workshop will be required. I
would recommend consultation and use of a licensed electrician for this,
if your jurisdiction allows the homeowner the option of completing the
work, you still need need to arrange an inspection that must pass before
the new installation is utilized, consulting a head of time will prevent
you having to spend more time and money redoing items that did not pass
If the workshop is significant in size, for an added measure of safety I
would recommend that you consider an electrical sub panel [read the
article called 'Sub
Panels'] in the
workshop area for the circuits used in your workshop, what this allows
you to also do is to be able to switch off all circuits within the sub
panel and lock it to prevent any untrained unauthorized use of the
workshop. Although by most codes the panel must be completely
accessible however sub panels may have their own rules, how the inspector interrupts a locked sub panel is something
that should be checked on in order to satisfy the requirements in the
jurisdiction in which you live but still allow you to be able to lock
out all power to the tools in your workshop from unauthorized use.
wet areas & flammable areas such as auto repair areas I would
highly recommend to use air power tools, there is no danger of
shock from the air power tools, as the tool itself is not powered
by electricity but by compressed air, and the air compressor which is
connected to electricity is located far from the actual tool
working location. The air tool is connected to the air compressor
by a special rubber hose which is non conductive to electricity.
Make sure your workshop
is not cluttered and all tools are stored safely away after use.
This will not only make your tools easier to find, it prevents
Plan the location of your outlets power feeds where fixed
powered tools are / will be located such a table saws / band saws,
jointer planers and so on; you do not want power cords over the floor
that is an accident waiting to happen where someone could trip on it.
Table saws, band saws, jointer planners and so on can draw a lot of
current and then there is with all motors a brief power surge at start
up, so a few 20 amp dedicated circuits will likely be required. Really
heavy duty fixed power items may even require a 220 volt connection.
An power on / off switch must be located at the item itself such as a
You must also have proper ventilation in your workshop
which will prevent or lower the level of sawdust for instance in the
Always use insulated shoes / boots including puncture
proof shoes / boots. Safety goggles should always be worn when operating
power tools, along with protective gloves. In high noise areas noise
dampening ear protection is also a must.
Use only power tools that are in absolute perfect
condition that has passed a highly recognized consumer protection
testing facility. Any damaged tools should be taken out of service and
discarded. Power cords should be inspected regularly and any damaged or
frayed items promptly repaired or discarded.
Always turn off the breaker to the circuit when doing
maintenance on any fixed power item, even if the switch at the item
itself is off.
Double / all insulated are the only tools that are
allowed to be used without the added protection of a earth ground
connector as part of the power cord.
For portable power tools such as a circular saw or drill,
I would strongly recommend NOT using any option that allows the tool to
stay on when the trigger switch is released, if it slips out of your
hands you want it to shut down immediately. Never use an tool that has
the blade guard damaged.
This is one thing I learned the hard way, always keep
your hand and fingers at a same distance from any cutting blade; way way
back in high school in grade 8, in shop I used to on a jointer planner
allow my finger on a push guide to go over the cutting blade with the
wood under it, that was until one day when I got a little too close and
the rotating blade hit a knot in the wood and kicked back a bit leaving
my middle finger of my left hand hitting the blade, well I lost the
first joint of that finger, it all happened so fast there was absolutely
no pain, the school took me immediately to a local doctor then onward to
the hospital where they operated on it.
When working with power tools, remove all jewellery,
anything hanging around the neck, rings anything that could possibly get
caught in a power tool, anyone with long hair tie it securely into a
ball or other method so it can never fall in the path of a power tool;
jackets / long sleeve shirts are a danger is ever caught in a power
tools such as blades. Keep all loose clothing on the arms away from
power tools, work gloves that both go over the hands and up over the
bottom of long sleeve shirts will give some protection. Long hair is
left hanging could get caught in a power tool / blade and violently
forced with head / face into a high speed rotating blade and such an event
would likely be fatal, even if you survive you will never be the same.
Although few people actually do, and of course some of it
is legal readings are to cover the manufactures butt from being sued in the
event of an accident but still read all instructions in the information
provided when buying a new power tool, it will explain cautions / safety
procedures in the use of that power tool.
Now this is really where you have to check out the local
electrical codes, GFCI in a lot of jurisdictions are required in
unfinished basements, unfinished depends on the floor surface, finished
walls with a concrete floor is in regards to electrical codes is
unfinished. A finished basement without a finished floor is not finished
according to code provisions,. Outside accessory buildings, garages also require GFI
protected outlets. There are exceptions to this for single outlet
dedicated circuits to a corded appliance such as a refrigerator, sump
pump, washing machine.
The NEC (United States) and CEC (Canada) although I know
in Canada, Some provinces such as Ontario has additional electrical
codes - Electrical codes in it's legal written form can be complex in
nature with exceptions to certain rules, so for an elaborate workshop I
would advise to at least consult with a professional. Electrical
codes are also amended from time to time, and new versions of the
electrical codes are released, sometimes as a result of tragedies and
then experts in the field try to figure out how to prevent the same
incident in the future.
Do not allow young children into the workshop
particularly when the circuit power is on the tools themselves even if
the power tools are off at the power tool location. In addition to that
the noise / dust and debris that may be in there is not a safe
environment for children.
Written: Jan. 1, 2012
Revised: July 2, 2013
Proof Read / Released: July 11, 2013
By: Donald Kerr