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Muddy Faces

Woodwork & safety

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Keeping woodwork safe: From woodwork in the early years expert Pete Woodhouse

Some of the most important health and safety guidelines:

  • Safety glasses should be worn at all times. With hammering, there is a very small risk that a nail could rebound toward the eye or an item being hammered may shatter. Wearing safety glasses eliminates this risk. If we believe young children are old enough to do woodwork then they are also old enough to learn about looking after and taking responsibility for their bodies with appropriate safety protection. Goggles (as opposed to safety glasses) are more problematic as children find them uncomfortable and they are distracted by constantly repositioning them and their peripheral vision is also restricted. This results in children having a diminished experience of woodwork and being potentially more likely to injure themselves. Small-sized junior safety glasses are now readily available that fit comfortably on even the smallest of heads.
  • Ensure all children are given proper instruction on the correct use of all tools. Draw attention to sharp edges/points of tools. Keep a checklist of who has learnt to use which tool to ensure all children get correct instruction. Remind children woodwork equipment remains in the woodwork area.
  • A good sturdy workbench with a vice is essential to hold wood securely for sawing and drilling.
  • When hammering into wood children will be using considerably force. They should hold the nail with finger and thumb and use gentle taps to get the nail started- until it is standing up on its own – then importantly hold the wood well away from the nail before hammering hard to get the into the wood. Short, thin nails are a lot easier to hammer in!
  • Sawing should be monitored 1:1 – This is particularly to ensure no children are watching from or passing in front of the sawing area. Child sawing with Japanese saw or pull saw to hold the saw with two hands or with European cross-cut saw with one hand – the hand not holding the saw to be well away from the saw and holding the bench. Wood must always be clamped tightly in a vice when being sawn. Staff to ensure wood is clamped tight in vice. After use immediately place saw out of reach (but visible to children).
  • Check wood for splinters. Avoid very rough splintery wood. Rough wood can initially be sanded. Sand edges after sawing if rough. Caution: Splinters can be a source of blood poisoning. First aid guidance varies so check your local guidelines – common sense would suggest if the splinter is protruding to remove it. Either way parents should be informed of splinters so the splinter site can be monitored for possible infection.
  • Ensure all nails and screws are picked up from the floor afterwards – a large magnet can work a treat for this – and there will be no shortage of volunteers to use it!

Learning Through Woodwork - Pete Moorhouse

£22.99 exVAT

Complete health and safety guidance for woodworking with Early Years is in Pete Woodhouse’s book.


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Heavy Duty Woodworking Bench

From: £218.90 exVAT

A strong and sturdy work bench, 1m in length, that has been designed by Muddy Faces. Available in 2 different sizes – 55cm and 70cm.


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Junior Safety Glasses

£3.29 exVAT

One piece lens with permanently attached side arms for durability.


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