Some of our readers took us to task for our April cover selection. They took exception to us featuring prominently someone working in a professional woodworking business using a power tool while not wearing safety glasses. They also were critical that the featured woodworker was wearing a ring and a bracelet and appeared to have no hearing protection either.

Those are all good points. It is never our intention to promote unsafe practices. This industry has long had a reputation for being dangerous, and there are lots of woodworkers who have paid a high price for a lapse in safety with the loss of a digit or even a limb. It’s indeed a serious matter.

Modern practices in industrial woodworking are helping to improve safety mostly by separating the operator from any dangerous proximity to a cutting device. For example, the operator of most of the latest CNC routers would have a really hard time even getting within arm’s length of the cutting head while in operation.

And technology can improve safety even on conventional woodworking equipment, such as the SawStop system for table saws. SawStop recently announced shipping its 50,000th saw, so clearly there is a market for safety.

But woodworkers shortchange themselves if they think they can rely solely on technology for safety. Ultimately, everyone in the shop is responsible for his own safety. I saw a sign in a shop once that I really liked. It declared: “Safety is your obligation and responsibility.” That means everyone has both a duty to be safe and to endeavor to promote safe practices by personal example. It also extends to alerting others to unsafe practices they might overlook.

We thank our readers for encouraging us to promote safety and personal responsibility in woodworking. Only each individual can truly decide for himself or herself what is a safe practice and what is not.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.