Using power tools

Home Building tipsWhen getting the most out of your power tools – remember safety first!

There is nothing more satisfying than creating or fixing something all by yourself, from a sense of pride and impressing your friends and family with your mad DIY skills. HOWEVER, using power tools can be difficult and dangerous as accidents tend to occur quickly and easily! Always take precautions and be safe:

What to wear when using power tools:

  • Safety goggles - Always wear safety goggles or other eye protection to prevent flying fragments or dust from getting into your eyes.
  • Thick gloves - Tool accessories can get hot during use, wear gloves to avoid contact with your skin. When operating hammer drills or demolition hammers, wear cushioned gloves to reduce vibration. Also take frequent breaks to limit exposure.
  • Dust mask - Wear a dust mask or respirator when involved in grinding or demolition work that generates airborne dust or debris.
  • Ear muffs - Wear hearing protection when using the tool for long stretches of time.
  • Hard helmet
  • Safety boots or non-skid shoes

Always read the instruction manual

It is always better to take the time to read the instruction manual and make sure that you know exactly how to get the most out of your power tool and how to operate it with the maximum safety, rather than try and correct errors in your project afterwards.

home building toolsThe right tool for the job

Select the right tool for the right job. You will get far more satisfaction and a better finish on your project if you select the right tool. Don’t use lightweight tools or attachments to do the job of a heavy-duty tool and don’t use a tool for a purpose that it was not intended. If you are unsure, ask for expert advice when purchasing your power tool, to ensure that you have made the correct choice.

Don’t be tempted to cut corners by multitasking on several tasks with one power tool. For example, if you are woodcutting, then use a woodcutting tool, if it’s metal-cutting project, use a metal-cutting tool. Don’t get one tool to do the other one’s job.
Also use the right accessories for the right application – this is important for power tool safety and it’s important to remember that accessories do expire after a certain time, particularly angle grinder disks, which have expiry dates on them.

Ensure that your power tools are in good-working condition

  • Keep your tools clean and dry, and the handles free from oil and grease. Follow the lubrication instructions and be sure to change the consumable e.g. blades, sanding disc, etc. regularly. Keep cutting tools sharp and clean for more effective and safer performance. Inspect your tools electrical cord regularly, and if damaged make sure it is professionally repaired. This applies to your extension cord as well.
  • Always maintain a neat and dry power tool storage space – this will prevent accidents that might arise due to water damage on your power tool. Power tools exposed to rain or wet conditions can lead to a short and cause an electric shock.
  • Another helpful safety note is to buy a trusted brand with a warranty.
  • Before using a concrete grinder, for example, inspect the grinding wheel for chips, cracks, or missing segments. Replace damaged or worn wheels immediately, and always operate the grinder with the guard in place. This tip does however, apply to all power tools.


Other helpful tips:

  • Stay alert, concentrate on what you are doing and use your common sense, don’t overreach, keep your footing and balance at all times.
  • When using tools outdoors, only use extension cords made for this purpose and don’t work in the rain.
  • Ensure that your power tool is turned off when plugging it into a wall socket – likewise for the plug point.
  • Ensure that your tool is switched OFF when shifting its position within the area you are working in, don’t carry a plugged-in tool with your finger on the switch.
  • Switch off and unplug tools before changing accessories such as bits, blades and cutters.
  • Don’t work in wet, damp locations. Make sure that the area is well ventilated and lit, and away from flammable liquids and gases.
  • Keep your work area clean and uncluttered.
  • If your machine has got two handles, use both of them. Keep your hands out of the way of moving parts like drill bits and blades.
  • Plan the job properly and allow yourself enough time to get the job done without rushing or cutting corners.
  • Remove jewellery and baggy clothing before working with a power tool – if these get caught in the mechanics of a power tool you could get injured.
  • If you have long hair wear a protective hair cover or make sure your hair is tied back.
  • Keeping your power tools in the optimum condition
  • Check your power cord and extension cords regularly. We also recommend that you use the plug that comes fitted to your tool and/or follow the instructions of charging batteries and charger care carefully.
  • Don’t force your tool, it will do a better safer job at the speed for which it is intended, and here again use the right tool for the application for which it is intended.
  • Clean and check your tools before storing away in a clean dry place. Use the carry case if provided and keep out of reach of children.
  • Read your manual for service and storage recommendations.


Compiled by Kayla Myburgh for Home Inspirations. Sources: Peter Schneider from Rutherford – distributor of Makita and Maktec Power Tools, Easy DIY.

Photograph credits: Webco, M & E Supplies and Metabo.

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