Safety Measures and Tool Information

Safety Overview

An important part of your experience in making will be learning to follow practices and procedures that will prevent injuries to YOURSELF and OTHERS. Develop a positive attitude toward safety. This means that you have a strong desire toward safety and are willing to give time and attention to learning the safest way to perform your work. It means that you will be certain to work carefully and follow the rules – even when no one is directly watching you.

Carefully study the safety rules which follow. The I-Create Lab staff may also recommend some additional rules. If you follow the rules and directions carefully, many of them will soon become safety habits that you will perform automatically. Please note that experience in a lab does not equal good safety awareness. Many accidents occur not to beginners but from experienced workers that feel more comfortable in the lab and therefore become more casual in their approach to safety guidelines.

NEVER be afraid to ask a staff member for help.

NEVER use a new machine without first asking for assistance from a staff member.'


Safety in the I-Create Lab is the highest priority. Accidents may result in serious bodily harm or death. Following proper safety procedures and conforming to the policies as outlined in this handbook will greatly reduce any chance of injury. 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 and your privileges to utilize the lab may be revoked.

General Lab Safety Rules

In any lab that you work in, the potential hazards for injury can be numerous. In an emergency call 4444 from a school phone, or 911 from a cell phone. All patrons entering the lab must acquire appropriate safety gear prior to operating any machine or tool. All patrons must clean up after themselves; patrons who do not clean up after themselves will lose all lab privileges for a minimum of 1 week.

Personal Protection

There are several measures you must take to protect yourself from work hazards.

  • Put on your safety glasses/goggles when working with the CNC Router.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing.
  • Do not wear loose fitting long sleeve shirts/sweatshirts.
  • Do not wear neckties.
  • Jewelry should not be worn in the lab.

Make certain that long hair is not loose but is pulled back away from equipment.

If you neglect to follow all safety rules and practices, severe injury could result and your privileges to utilize the lab may be revoked.

Safety guidelines

Follow these guidelines for general work safety:

  • Always wear appropriate safety gear and protective clothing, including closed toed shoes.
  • Know where the fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.
  • Never work impaired.
  • Always ensure that the exhaust fan is on while you are working on the equipment.
  • Know the hazards associated with your work. Be sure you are fully educated on the proper use and operation of any tool before beginning a job. If you cannot do a job safely, don’t do it. Think through the entire job before starting.
  • If you are unsure about how to safely execute the operation of a tool, ask for help. Have the lab supervisors assist, demonstrate, and observe to help you become familiar and comfortable.
  • If you have not worked with a specific material before, consult the lab supervisor for precautions, methods and instruction prior to beginning work.
  • Do not work in the lab if you are in a hurry, this almost always ruins the work and often results in injury.
  • Leave tool and equipment guards in place.
  • Before starting any machine be sure to check that it is set up correctly and fully operational.
  • Check power cords and plugs on portable tools before using them.

CNC Safety Rules

  • Safety glasses and hearing protection are required.
  • A dust mask may be worn if necessary.
  • Never leave machine unattended while it is in operation.
  • Never reach into the working envelope of the machine while it is running.
  • Visually ensure that all tools and bits are completely stopped before removing guards or performing any clean-up or maintenance.
  • Always make sure you have inserted the correct bit for the job you are doing.
  • Check your horsepower is suitable for the material you are cutting.
  • Make sure that all workpieces are securely clamped down.
  • Do not force material into the router.
  • Don’t try to increase the depth of the cut by inserting less of the shank into the collet.
  • If the bit is acting up or breaks, shut down the machine straight away.
  • Do not use non-routing tools, even though their shanks may fit into the collet.


  • Small parts that become loose during cutting may be thrown.
  • Poorly secured stock can fling out.


  • Do keep eyes, hands, hair and clothing away from running router
  • Do stay within reach of pause and/or stop switch during jobs
  • Do properly and safely secure stock
  • Do shut down power to router spindle before changing tools
  • Do use a sharp and appropriate cutting tool
  • Do create jobs such that all pieces remain attached to stock material
  • Do use a safe spindle speed (this often means more RPM!)
  • Do leave the machine and nearby area cleaner than you found it
  • Do cut plastics, formaldehyde -free mdf, wood and aluminum


  • Don't wear long sleeves, ties, hoodie strings, jewelry, or gloves
  • Don't leave a running job unattended
  • Don't let excessive chips build up between jobs
  • Don't clear chips while spindle is running
  • Don't use hands to hold down parts that come loose during cutting
  • Don't cut fiberglass, mdf, carbon fiber, or other composites.

Laser Cutter Safety


The laser cutter may be used only for lawful purposes. Users will not be permitted to use the laser cutter to create material that is:

  • Prohibited by local, state or federal law.
  • Unsafe harmful, dangerous, poses an immediate threat to the well-being of others, or is otherwise inappropriate for the library environment.
  • In violation of another’s intellection property rights. For example, the laser cutter will not be used to reproduce material that is subject to copyright, patent or trademark protection.
  • The I-Create Lab reserves the right to refuse any laser cutter request.
  • Supervision of the use of the laser cutter by library staff does not constitute knowledge, or acknowledgement, of any unapparent final use of the fabricated product, and the I-Create Lab specifically disclaims any knowledge thereof.
  • Abuse of the laser cutter may result in loss of use privileges.

Fire Warning

This laser system uses a high intensity beam of light that can generate extremely high temperatures when it comes into contact with material being engraved, marked or cut. Some materials are extremely flammable and can easily ignite and burst into open flame setting the machine afire. This open flame is very dangerous and has the potential to destroy not only the machine, but the building in which it is housed.

Experience shows that vector cutting with the laser has the most potential to create an open flame. Many materials are susceptible to igniting, but acrylic, in all its different forms, has been shown to be especially flammable when vector cutting with the laser.

Please read the following warnings and recommendations and follow them closely at all times!

  • Stay with the laser. Never operate the laser system while unattended.
  • Keep the area clear. Clean around the machine and keep the area free of clutter, combustible materials, explosives, or volatile solvents such as acetone, alcohol, or gasoline.
  • Be prepared with a fire extinguisher. Know where it is located and how to operate it in case it is needed.
  • Use Air Assist. Always use the system’s Air Assist feature when vector cutting.
  • Use caution when vector cutting. Many materials have the potential to suddenly burst into flames when cut with a laser – even materials that may be very familiar to the user. Always monitor the machine when it is operating.
  • Clean the laser. A buildup of cutting and engraving residue and debris is dangerous and can create a fire hazard in its own right. Keep your laser clean and free of debris. Regularly remove the Vector Cutting Table to clean any small pieces that have fallen through the grid.

Laser Safety

The Epilog Laser System is a Class 2 laser product, as defined in International Standard IEC 60825-1.

The output of the embedded high-power C02 engraver is fully contained. The laser cabinet has safety interlocks that turn the laser off if the door is opened during operation. The visible output beam of the Laser Diode Pointer (Red Dot Pointer) is accessible to the operator. While this device employs the same technology as the familiar laser pen-pointers, like them it is potentially hazardous if its beam is directed into the eye.

The operator of the Epilog Laser should observe the following general precautions:

  • DO NOT disassemble the machine or remove any of its protective covers.
  • DO NOT attempt to defeat the door interlocks.
  • DO NOT view directly into the beam of the Laser Diode Pointer (Red Dot Pointer).
  • DO NOT operate the Laser Diode Pointer (Red Dot Pointer) without the machine’s focus lens in place. If the unfocused beam strikes a reflective surface, it could be directed out of the cabinet.
  • CAUTION – Use of controls or adjustments or performance of procedures other than those specified herein may result in hazardous radiation exposure.

Electrical Safety

The AC input power to the Epilog Laser System is potentially lethal and is fully contained within the cabinet.

  • DO NOT open any of the machine’s access panels while the unit is plugged in. Opening a panel may expose the operator to the unit’s AC input power.
  • DO NOT make or break any electrical connections to the system while the unit is turned on.


Do Not Run the Laser Unvented: Never operate the machine without a properly operating vent to the outside or to a filtration unit! Most material will only produce an irritating smoke when engraved. Some materials, including but not limited to paint, varnish, composition board and plastics, produce compounds that can be harmful if concentrated. A properly installed vent is the only way to ensure that problems do not occur.

Do Not Engrave or Cut PVC: Never engrave or cut any material containing PVC or vinyl. When engraved, a corrosive agent is produced that will destroy your machine. Your warranty will be void if your machine is damaged by corrosion from engraving or cutting PVC or Vinyl.

Do Not Operate Machine While Unattended: Never operate your machine without someone watching the system. There is significant risk of fire if the machine is set improperly, or if the machine should experience a mechanical or electrical failure while operating.

Do Not Vector Cut While Machine is Unattended: Never laser cut any material with the laser without someone watching the system. Because vector cutting moves relatively slowly compared to raster engraving, a tremendous amount of heat is applied to the material being cut. This buildup of heat can cause significant fire risk and the machine should always be monitored. Additionally, the Air Assist should always be turned on when vector cutting to reduce the risk of fire.

Do Not Operate the System While Doors are Open: Never operate with any of the covers or enclosures removed, and never modify the enclosure. The laser beam is invisible and is very dangerous.

  • Use a brush, or special tool for the removal of ships, shavings and debris. Do not use your hands to clean shavings or cuttings – they can be sharp!
  • Keep your fingers clear from the point of operation of machines. Never use a rag near moving machinery.
  • Keep the work area free from debris, clean spills immediately and remove all sawdust and wood chips.
  • Clean up after yourself. Before you leave be sure all tools are returned to their appropriate position and all machines are clean.
  • Earphones, cell phone use and texting are not allowed in the lab. 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. Go downstairs into the Atrium to use your phone.

Failure to follow these guidelines, procedures and the instructions of the staff will result in the loss of privileges of the entire lab indefinitely.