Hand-held tools are not necessarily easy to use. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that each year almost 100,000 people are treated for injuries resulting from hand-held tools. These are injuries that could have been prevented by using simple safety guidelines.

Eye injuries are among the most traumatic accidents. Safety experts advise putting on safety goggles before reaching for any tool. But goggles should not be the sole item in the safety wardrobe. Gloves can also add to the margin. Heavy-duty leather gloves can protect the hands from flying chips when using a hammer and chisel. Gloves can also help secure a good grip.A respirator should also be in the workshop. Most people do not think of a block of wood and a piece of sandpaper as hand tools, but they are. Sanding produces particles that can lead to allergies and respiratory sicknesses. Remember that simple dust masks do not protect against the fumes of solvents and spray paints. Those need respirators.

The average homeowner owns just one hammer, usually a carpenter's claw hammer, which is used for many tasks. That is a bad idea. A claw hammer should be used just for driving and pulling nails.

There are dozens of styles of hammers. Each is designed for a specific purpose, and injuries can and do result from using wrong hammers. Ballpeen hammers should be used with chisels and for metal work. A lightweight tack hammer is designed for driving small nails and brads. A club or hand-held sledgehammer should be used for driving masonry drills.

Do not use a hammer that has a loose head or a broken handle. Always strike with the face and not the cheek. When using a hammer and a chisel, choose a hammer with a face larger than the chisel head.

When using chisels, check the cutting edge. A dull chisel can cause more injury than a sharp one. Chisels with mushroomed heads and cracked or chipped shafts should be discarded. Match the chisel to the job. Never use a hot chisel for cutting metal or masonry.

Like hammers, screwdrivers come in many shapes and sizes. The homeowner should have a variety. Short stubby screwdrivers help in tight spots, and long-handled screwdrivers enter hard-to-reach places. Never use a screwdriver as a chisel, pry bar, punch or a scraper.

Never hit a screwdriver with a hammer. Do not apply excessive torque to the blade by twisting the shank with pliers or a wrench. When working on a small piece, hold it in a vise or a clamp, not your hand. If the screwdriver slips on a hand-held piece, a result could be a nasty cut.

Make sure that screwdriver tips are in good condition, not chipped or worn. When purchasing a screwdriver, choose a model with a flange where the blade enters the handle. That prevents the hand from slipping when a downward thrust is applied.

Pliers are designed to grip objects and to form and bend metal and wire. They are not wrenches and should not be used to apply torque to nuts, screws or pipes. Choose pliers that have the proper grip span for your hands.

When using pliers, hold them at a 90-degree angle and use a steady, even pressure. Avoid rocking motions. When the jaws or handles of the tool become worn, chipped or broken, it is best to discard it. Fixing pliers, and indeed all tools, by welding or brazing is not recommended.

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Wrenches are designed to apply torque. They do have limits. Never try to increase torque by adding a makeshift extension to the handle or by hitting the handle with a hammer. Use adjustable wrenches for limited torque applications and open-end, or box, wrenches for jobs that require greater force.

To avoid having the wrench slip off the work, make sure that it is the proper size. Never use inch wrenches for metric work. The jaws of wrenches should be smooth and parallel. When using a wrench, stand firmly on both feet and apply force with the arms and shoulders. Avoid leaning into or away from the work.

A vise is useful for holding work. Bolt the vise to the workbench. Do not use screws. Never use an extension on the handle. Lubricate the screw frequently and keep it clean.

When buying tools, look for ones with good balance, with handles that allow a good grip.

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