Safety tips for a furniture painting workshop
The longer I paint furniture, the more I realize how important it is to take basic safety precautions whenever you’re engaging in this type of work. Doing a blog post on safety isn’t the most exciting content to push out into the world, but I think it’s really important because it’s something I engage in every single day.
Now I have to put this out there before we get started – I’m not a safety professional. The tips I’m sharing here on this blog post are those that I have found helpful in my years of painting furniture. This list is not exhaustive. You should always follow the manufacturer’s safety recommendations on the products and tools you’re using in your workshop.
So here are some basic safety tips that I can share with you from my Eight Hundred Furniture-sized world!
wear a mask or respirator
I placed this tip at the top of my list for a reason – it’s the most important safety device you can have in your workshop!
I use two types of masks to protect my lungs. The first is a basic mask.
I buy these little guys in boxes of 20 or so and they do a great job protecting against dust when I’m sanding. I also use them in my paint workshops so my participants can protect their lungs as well. They’re disposable, making them ideal for quick uses.
The other type of mask that I have in my workshop is a respirator.
This mask is a little bit beefier. It has filters on either side that you can swap out depending on the type of protection you need. These pink filters protect against lead, asbestos, cadmium, arsenic and MDA particulates. This is the mask that I wear most often when I’m doing long rounds of sanding with my orbital sander or when I’m using a very smelly product that has a strong chemical odor, like Bondo.
wear gloves when working with chemicals
Gloves are always in stock in my workshop. I wear them for almost every project I complete! There are different types of gloves you should have on hand (pun intended) depending on the product you’re using.
I use plain old nitrile gloves most often.
This is the exact box that’s down on my workshop shelf now and I get them from the paint aisle of my local hardware store.
I use these gloves when I want to keep my hands clean while I’m staining with General Finishes products, wiping away Hemp Oil or wax from a Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint project, or when I’m cleaning a freshly stripped piece of furniture with Mineral Spirits.
These gloves are also disposable, making them ideal to have on hand for paint workshops.
The other type of gloves that I have are more suited to protecting my skin against caustic chemicals like strippers.
You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations that are on the label of the product you’re using, whether it’s mineral spirits, chemical stripper, paint, etc. If they advise using chemical resistant gloves, then that’s what you should use!
wear safety glasses/splash goggles
How many times have you gotten a speck of something in your eyes? Just a tiny bit of dust, dirt, or even an eyelash can cause major discomfort. So imagine how important it is to protect your eyes from sawdust, bits of wood flying up from a table saw or staples flying out of your upholstery project!
Safety glasses fit like regular glasses and sometimes have little wings that stick out on the side. They’re often shatter proof and are essential to have on hand whenever you’re working with things that can fly in your face.
Splash goggles are a little bit different. They have protective edges that wrap all the way around your eye so there’s no chance of any liquid chemicals from getting into your eyes.
This is one area of protection that I never used to think about until recently. I would always find my ears to be ringing after a long round of sanding or running my vacuum cleaner to suck up dust from distressing furniture.
I recently popped over to my local Harbor Freight to pick up a pair of ear muffs.
This is the pair that I bought and they work great! They’re adjustable so they can fit a head of any size or shape.
reading your labels
This is probably the most important safety tip of all! I can’t tell you how many questions I receive from people on social media that could be answered if they simply read their labels.
Most paint-related product manufacturers have instructions for use, surface preparation guidelines, safety recommendations and disposal instructions on the labels of their products. They tell you exactly how to use their stuff!
General Finishes is a GREAT example! Their new labels are top notch and packed with tons of vital information.
I know we live in a fast-paced society and we want answers quickly. We don’t want to research and learn for ourselves. We want a quick answer from someone and we take their word as gold. We don’t cross-check our information with multiple sources to make sure we’re on the right track.
(Uh, hello! Guilty party of one, right here!)
But when it comes to safety information, you need to go straight to the source. You can find SDS information by visiting the website of the product you’re using. There are YouTube videos that the manufacturer has available to show you how to properly use it. Heck, some even have Facebook groups dedicated to educating folks on proper use!
So do your due diligence as a consumer, slow your roll and read your labels.
pin for later
I hope this little blog post helped you start to wrap your mind around some basic safety precautions you can take in your workshop.
Pin this post and keep it handy for your next project!