The power tools of today are not the same as the ones that were carefully placed on the pegboard near your grandfather’s workbench- they are actually quite far from it. Modern technology has made amazing advances in the simplest of features, including automatic shut-off, enhanced guarding and more resilient materials just to name a few. But one trait has come to be worth its weight in gold within the power tool industry, and that’s the owner’s manual.
Today’s manuals not only have better graphics showing its users what each part of the device should look like (and what to do when it doesn’t), many individual manufacturers will have explicit directions and instructions for the safety and maintenance of each individual power tool. Of course, no instructions are completely fool proof, especially if the content of such manuals isn’t completely understood by the user. This is why many manufacturers have implemented training seminars and classes for both companies and individuals on the proper procedures for optimum performance and safety. Local home improvement stores often hold such classes and seminars on a regular basis.
However, a bit of common sense and know-how never hurt anyone, so there are a few safety guidelines which should be followed by all users of power tools. For example, wearing the proper clothing is essential, and you should never wear loose clothing that could easily get caught in a power tool. Safety gear is crucial- hard hat, safety goggles and gloves, along with the proper footwear. Using the right tool, whether it be size or something else, for the job at hand, including the right type of extension cord (indoor, outdoor, proper length) if applicable. The work area should be clean, uncluttered and well lit. Keep all electric tools away from water and flammables. Do not use power tools with frayed or damaged cords. Damaged parts anywhere in a power tool, including saw blades and drill bits, can cause damage to the tool itself or the individual performing the task. Unplug all electric power tools when finished with or before changing to another tool.
As far as the maintenance aspect of such power tools, common sense is again of the highest importance. For example, making sure that the proper guards are placed on saw blades when not in use is both a safety and maintenance issue. Saw blades need to be sharp to deliver the best performance possible, but can also be incredibly dangerous, so taking the proper preventive measures will yield the best results in all aspects, not just project outcome.
For more information on power tool basics, the U.S. government has many publications that can be of high value to consumers. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers product recall information, and OSHA has a few such publishings regarding both general industry and personal use of power tools.