Frostic School of Art

Woodshop Handbook


General Information

Woodshop Mission

Woodshop Access


Woodworking Apprenticeship ProgramWoodworking Studio

Policies and Procedures

   Eye Protection

   Injury-Causing Accidents

   Non-Injury Accidents

   Woodshop Occupancy Limit

   Reserving the Woodshop for Class Use

   Open Shop Hours

   Storage of Materials and Projects

   Cleaning of Woodshop Facility


General Shop Safety Rules

Machine Safety

Hand-held Power Tools

Hand tool Safety

Band Saw

Miter Saws


Drill Press

Scroll Saw

Air-Powered Nail Gun

CNC Router/Digital Fabrication


General Information

Western Michigan University

Frostic School of Art Woodshop

K1140 South Kohrman Hall


Brad Smith - Woodshop Supervisor

The woodshop is located on the first floor of South Kohrman Hall and is a support facility for the students, faculty and staff of the Frostic School of Art (FSoA).

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Woodshop Mission

The mission of the Frostic School of Art Woodshop is to provide a safe and reliable work environment for the exploration and study of wood-related materials and the possibilities and limitations of the tools and techniques used to shape them.

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Woodshop Access

Woodshop access  for new art students

Woodshop access for returning art students

Woodshop access for faculty and staff  

Woodshop access for non-art majors

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Safety in the woodshop is the highest priority.  Accidents may result in serious bodily harm or death.  Following proper safety procedures and conforming to the woodshop policies as outlined in this handbook will greatly reduce any chance of injury.

If you are not 100% sure about any tool operation or the safety of a cut - STOP and ask Brad Smith or the woodshop monitor for assistance.

Do not experiment with the tools or try to figure out how to use a machine on your own.  If you do not use a tool or machine exactly how you have been shown or neglect to follow all safety rules, severe injury could result.

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Fine Woodworking Apprenticeship Program

Please Visit the Apprentice Information Page

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Woodworking Studio

Under the direction of Brad Smith, students involved in the “Fine Woodworking Apprenticeship Program”, design and create commissioned pieces of wood art and functional furniture.  Proceeds from the work created in the Woodworking Studio help to support the woodshop and the apprenticeship program.

Commissions are selected based on educational value and the size and scope of the project.  Preference will be given, but not limited, to non-profit organizations and units/individuals within the Western Michigan University community.

The student apprentice benefits by learning traditional and modern woodworking techniques while gaining real-world experience.

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Policies and Procedures

Eye Protection

Eye protection must be worn while working in the woodshop facility -  safety glasses are provided.

Consistent failure to wear eye protection will result in loss of shop access.

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Injury-Causing Accidents

In the event of an injury-causing accident, the following procedures must be followed:

Notify the shop supervisor or monitor on duty immediately.  Shop personnel will follow established first-aid procedures.

All injury-causing accidents requiring outside medical attention requires a meeting with the woodshop supervisor to determine the cause of the accident and as a preventive measure against similar accidents in the future before shop access may resume.


No loose fitting clothing while working in the woodshop.  Hair needs to be pulled back and secure.  Footwear should cover the toes, heel and top of foot.

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Non-Injury Accidents

In the event of accidents resulting in machine damage, material “kick-backs” or other unsafe events, the following procedure must be followed:

If gross negligence is determined to be involved in the course of a non-injury accident a meeting is required between the user(s) and the woodshop supervisor before shop access may resume.

If an individual is consistently working in an unsafe manner, shop privileges will be revoked.

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Woodshop Occupancy Limit

In order to maintain a safe work environment, strict user limits will be enforced. Faculty need to be aware of this limit when planning woodshop use and should utilize some type of rotation or other strategy to avoid exceeding the occupancy limit.

The maximum number of individuals allowed to work in the woodshop at any given time is 9.

This occupancy limit was decided upon in consultation with the department of Environmental Health and Safety at WMU.  The official report and recommendation can be made available upon request.

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Reserving the Woodshop for Class Use

At least two weeks notice must be given to reserve the woodshop for class use. This includes orientation/training, demonstrations and student use of the woodshop.

Contact Brad Smith to reserve a day and time.  Reservations are made on a first-come, first-served basis.

In order to ensure that there are sufficient open shop hours for all woodshop users, only one class per day may reserve the woodshop.

Brad Smith or a trained monitor must be present at all times while students are working in the woodshop.

When the woodshop is reserved for a class, it is closed to other students.

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Open Shop Hours

Visit the Open Shop info page here

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Storage of Materials and Projects

A limited number of small lockers are available for materials/project storage on a first-come, first-served basis.  The following procedures apply for items that will not fit in lockers:

Special arrangements may be made for large material storage.  Such storage is only allowed for limited periods of time and requires a specific removal date.  All materials stored beyond the removal dates will be subject to discard.

Projects may be left on workbenches for a specified period of time after consulting with the woodshop supervisor.

Lockers will be emptied at the end of finals week of both fall and spring semesters.  Any contents not immediately claimed will become the property of the woodshop.

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Cleaning of Woodshop Facility

Each user is  responsible for clean-up and tool return.

Each machine and work area should be cleaned immediately after use.

The last person to use a machine is responsible for cleaning the machine and surrounding work area.

Users who consistently fail in their clean-up responsibilities may be denied shop access.

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With the exception of the scrap bins below the miter saw  tables and garbage cans, the woodshop does not provide free materials.  The woodshop does sell a limited selection of hardwoods, picture frame stock and materials to make canvas stretcher frames. Purchases can be billed to student/employee accounts or paid by check or cash. See woodshop staff for more information.

Tools and Machinery in the woodshop are intended for cutting and shaping wood and wood based materials only.  Please see the shop supervisor if you wish to work with other materials in the woodshop.

Used wood and wood based materials may be processed in the shop as long as the material is clean, free of dirt, grit, grime or abrasive materials.  Material that is excessively contaminated with dirt or grime should not be processed on any of the workshop equipment.  Material should also be free of paint or finishes (varnish, enamel) and free of metallic objects (nails, screws, staples).  Shop users using used materials may be found liable for damage to the tools and equipment caused by those materials,

No pressure treated/chemically treated wood allowed in the woodshop.

No green wood - tree limbs, etc. unless they are completely dry.  Consult with Brad Smith before attempting to cut unstable materials (limbs, etc) as they pose potential dangers when processing.

Plaster objects may not be worked on any of the equipment or machines in the woodshop.

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General Shop Safety Rules

The woodshop is open during posted hours or by appointment.  

Open shop hours are posted on the website and woodshop door.

Don’t work if you are tired, distracted or under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication.  Working with this equipment requires your full attention.

Every person is required to wear eye protection while working in the woodshop.

Tie back long hair when operating machinery.

No loose jewelry or clothing.

Footwear must cover the toes, heel and top of foot.

All accidents, even if very small, must be reported to your instructor/woodshop supervisor or the shop monitor on duty.

A safe attitude will protect you and others.  Think - practice and develop good, safe working habits.

Respect the rights and property of others.  Be thoughtful and helpful toward others in the shop.

Horseplay, running, yelling and/or fighting is absolutely forbidden in the shop.

Do not use stationary equipment work surfaces for sanding, project assembly, layout, applying finishes, etc. Or for uses other than their intended purpose.

Make sure machines are in the “off” position and motion has stopped, before leaving them after use.

All safety guards must be kept in place while operating equipment.  If a guard or safety device is an impediment to safe operation of a machine - ask for help.

Use equipment only for its intended use.

Do not use equipment until you have received proper and safe instruction and feel comfortable with its operation.

If you have made an adjustment to a piece of equipment, return it to its normal position after you are done.

Do not use broken or damaged equipment; report immediately to the woodshop supervisor or monitor on duty.

Do not attempt repairs to any equipment that is broken.

Make sure the machine’s work surface is unobstructed and clean before use.

Always be aware of the proximity of moving machine parts to body parts - fingers.

Never talk to someone operating a machine.

Avoid talking or other distractions while operating tools and equipment.

Clean up your mess!  Pick up your materials.  Put away tools.  Sweep the benches and floors.

Return all tools to their proper storage place after using.

Absolutely no tools out of the shop.

Ask the woodshop supervisor for approval before storing materials or projects in the shop.

All used lumber must be inspected prior to working.

Do not use previously painted or finished wood in the shop.

Do not use pressure treated (green treated) lumber in the shop.

Do not use plaster or similar material on any power machines.

Earphones, cell phone use and texting are not allowed in the woodshop. We need to be able to get your attention and you need to hear what’s going on around you. Cell phone use and texting are distractions.  Simply go elsewhere to use your phone.

These rules are meant to insure a safe and orderly work environment; please respect them.

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Machine Safety

To operate a machine safely, you must know more than just how to turn it on and off.  You must know how to perform the basic operations and how to make simple adjustments.  Always maintain a healthy respect for the tool’s capabilities and limits.  Never use a machine for a job it was not designed for and never experiment - if you are unsure about how to perform a certain operation, ask for help.  The more you know about a machine, the safer you will be.  Don’t become over confident - that leads to carelessness, which causes accidents.  The following are general guidelines for stationary machines.

Wear eye protection at all times - some tools such as the lathe may

also require the use of a face shield.

Always keep your hands a safe distance from cutters and blades.

Make sure all guards and safety devices are in place. Do not use a machine

without the proper guards.

Know the physics of the machine and where the cutting force wants to throw the


When feeding material through a machine with the hands, be aware of the

direction you are pushing (away from blade or cutter).

Never operate a power tool when alone in the shop.

Defects in the wood can be dangerous. Check the stock carefully for knots,

splits, and other defects.

Keep the machine clean. Remove all tools, lumber, and unnecessary materials.

Objects left on the machine can vibrate into revolving cutters. They can then be

thrown from the machine with great force. Never clean a machine while it is


Always work with a plan of procedure. Consider and think through each step

ahead of time.

Never make an adjustment unless the power is off. The tool must come to a

complete stop.

Your stance is also important - stand in a comfortable, balanced (defensive)

position when working with power tools. Both feet should be firmly on the floor.

If something doesn’t sound right, or feel right - turn off the machine and inform

the supervisor or monitor.

Above all, think before you perform any task. Know the tool’s capabilities and the work it is intended for. If you feel unsure, STOP and ask for assistance.

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Hand-Held Power Tools

Only change blades, bits, etc., when the tool is off and unplugged. It is very easy

to turn it on by mistake when you pick it up.

Know what direction it should go and be prepared to react and compensate for

the torque of the motor.

Many rules for the corresponding stationary machinery apply as well to the hand


Turn off before unplugging, and always check that it is turned off before

plugging in.

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Hand Tool Safety

These tools, while they do not involve the same dangers as power machinery, should be used cautiously. Often, the type of injury sustained while misusing these tools are small cuts and lacerations - sometimes requiring stitches. Please observe the following guidelines while using hand tools.

Never use a dull tool - it is actually much more dangerous than a sharp one.

Think about the direction your energy is going while performing an operation. If

you are holding material in your hands, be sure the action if going away from

your body. Better yet, clamp the material in a vise or to the surface of a


Like power tools, think through a procedure before you attempt it. Many times,

we become complacent or are rushing through a job - that is when accidents are most likely to occur.

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Band Saw

Most find the band saw one of the less-threatening pieces of equipment, however this fact can lull you into a false sense of security. Although less catastrophic than injuries on other machines, accidents on the band saw can occur if the operator doesn’t follow proper safety guidelines.

Know and follow the general safety rules for operating stationary woodworking


Adjust the upper guide so it is from 1/8 to 1/4 inch above the stock.

Keep your hands out of line with the blade. Keep your fingers at least 2”

away from the blade at all times.

Never perform an unfamiliar technique without hands-on training.

Don’t push the wood with your fingers moving toward the front of the blade.

Wood can split and your fingers can go into the blade. Keep you energy directed

away from the front of the blade.

Use the proper size blade for the task you want to accomplish, i.e. resawing vs.

cutting tight curves.

Make sure the guides are properly set.

If you hear an unfamiliar sound, stop the machine and inform the supervisor.

Keep work area free from debris.

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Miter Saws

The miter saw is used for cutting materials to length. It excels at precision 90 degree and angle cuts, including compound joints. They are fast, and cut angles with repeatable accuracy. All miter saws have scales showing the angle of the cut, as well as detents (positive stops) at often used miter angles. When used with a stop block, the miter saw can make short work of cutting stock to length. A big advantage is you can get a cleaner cut, especially when cutting long lengths. As opposed to the table saw - with the miter saw, you are moving the blade into the stock instead of the other way around.

Guard should be used at all times.

Don’t start saw with wood touching the saw blade.

Always be aware of where your fingers are in relation to the blade.

Don’t hold the wood on the left side of the saw with your right hand.

NEVER place your hands closer then 6" from the blade.

Don’t start cutting until the blade is moving at full speed.

Cut only one piece of wood at a time.

Maintain a balanced stance - stand to the left of the machine while cutting (with

right hand).

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The most common injury when working with stationary sanders is abrasions to fingers and knuckles. Follow general safety guidelines for stationary machinery when using sanders. While using the disc sander, work on the “down” side of the disc - most likely the left side. Hold the work firmly.

Use a dust mask if needed. Fine dust particles are inevitable even with the use

of a dust collection system.

Don’t attempt to sand very small pieces on the belt sander.

Be sure that sanding belts are tracking properly.

Don’t use with a torn belt or disc.

Do not touch moving belts or discs.

Support the work securely against the guides before moving it against the


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Drill Press

The drill press is not inherently dangerous, but it deserves respect and warrants some precautions. The greatest hazard is spinning work. Large bits muster enough torque to rip work from your hand; it is best to clamp the work to the table to prevent this.

Run drill at correct cutting speed - dependent on bit size and material.

Use a vise or clamp to hold material.

Remove chips with brush or compressed air, never by hand.

Ease up on pressure as bit breaks through material.

Don't drill with too much pressure, if the bit is dull - replace it.

If drill binds, shut off machine; turn chuck backwards by hand to free bit.

When drilling deep holes withdraw drill to clear chips frequently.

Never wear gloves, loose clothing or jewelry when using a drill press. Tie long

hair back.

Support the underside of the stock to be drilled.

Insert bit into drill chuck and tighten with the chuck key. Remove chuck key from

the drill chuck before starting the drill press.

Make all drill press adjustments with the power shut off.

Keep hands and fingers at least two inches from rotating drill bits.

Never stop the rotation of the drill chuck and spindle with your hands or


Always clean the drill press table and work area upon completion of the drilling


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Scroll Saw

The Scroll Saw is the ideal tool when fine, intricate curved cuts are


Be sure blade is tensioned properly before cutting.

Keep your fingers at least 2 inches from the blade at all times.

Be very careful at the end of the cut to keep fingers clear. The blade can spring

forward as it completes the cut.

When steering along a curved cut, do not warp the blade sideways from its natural position.

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Air-Powered Nailer

The use of air - powered nailers speed the process of assembling and fastening components.

Be sure air supply is turned on.

Use the appropriate nailer and nail size for the work you are doing.

Be very careful how you hold the work while nailing. Never place your hand

where the nail can leave the material and strike your finger.

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While this handbook does cover numerous safety issues, it is not a replacement for time spent practicing safe work habits in the woodshop.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the woodshop user to follow all safety procedures as outlined.  Failure to do so could result in serious injury.

Completing the process to become Shop Certified in no way makes the user an expert.  Becoming accomplished at working with wood-based materials and the equipment used to shape them takes time, patience and hard work.  One should plan ahead and ask for assistance.  The woodshop staff is available to help and offer advice.

Finally, the user needs to understand the limits of the equipment, the materials, their own technical ability and the size and scope of the project when considering work in the woodshop.

Contact Brad Smith if you have any questions about the School of Art Woodshop.

Brad Smith

K1140 South Kohrman Hall


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Woodshop Mission


Book Appointment

Woodshop Handbook

New Student Info

Faculty/Staff Info

Open Shop Hours

Woodshop Orientation

Woodworking Fundamentals

Apprenticeship Program


Student Work

Woodworking Studio

CNC Router

Equipment List

Woodshop Store

Brad Smith

Woodshop Staff

Contact Info