Max Lab - Safety Practices

Safety Practices

The Max Lab contains many power and hand tools for your use, but many of these tools are dangerous if used improperly. Important safety precautions must be obeyed.

There is a general Stanford-wide Health and Safety Policy.

General Safety Common Sense

Use common sense to keep the lab safe and your fellow lab users happy. Examples of common sense:

  • If something seems like a bad idea it probably is. Don't do it.
  • Don't leave things on the floor that people may trip on.
  • If you run an electrical cord across the entire lab, someone will probably trip over it.
  • If you are about to make a loud sound or turn on a loud tool, warn those around you.
  • Please speak up if you see anyone in need of some coaching on any of these points.

Work in Pairs

It is always a good idea to have someone else around while you are working in the lab, especially if you are using power tools. Try to avoid working alone wherever possible.



  • Wear appropriate clothing for what you are working on.
  • Avoid bulky clothes that may get caught or snagged on tools or soldering irons.
  • Remove long necklaces or dangling jewelry.
  • If you have long hair, tie it back.
  • Wear closed-toed shoes (i.e. NO FLIP-FLOPS). Even if you are not using them, there may be others around using heavy or sharp objects like clamps or cutting tools that can fall on your feet. 


Safety Gear

Safety glasses, disposable foam ear plugs, dust masks and work gloves are available for your use. Eye protection must be worn at all times while you are cutting, drilling, soldering, or near to anyone who is doing any of these. Use your discretion for when to use ear plugs and dust masks.


Ventilation and Dust

The Max Lab is not set up with an industrial ventilation system. Furthermore, it contains and is used to produce many sensitive electronic devices. This means that you should avoid using hazardous chemicals or creating large amounts of dust in the lab. If you are soldering or making moderate amounts of dust, open the windows to help air circulate. Make sure to close the windows when you leave. And as always, thoroughly clean up your mess and one other before you leave.



Absolutely no alcohol may be consumed in the lab. Do not use the lab if you are intoxicated or your coordination may be impaired. This includes fatigue. Especially toward the end of term you may be run down and working late. If you are very tired, its not a good idea to operate power tools.


Appropriate Use of Tools

The Max Lab contains many specialized tools. However, it is not a machine shop or a woodworking shop, and doesn't have every tool that you may need. It is generally a bad idea to use a tool for something for which it was not intended. This is a great way to break tools and cause accidents. For example, a jigsaw is not meant for cutting through-holes, and the drill bits we have are not for cutting titanium. If you have a very specific need, you may need to look to work elsewhere, the Product Realization Lab, for example. Also, things like screwdrivers or hammers should not be used as percussion mallets. Feel free to use your own tools for this purpose, but not those from the lab. If you do not know how to use a tool, ask a staff member. Some general principles apply:

  • Your work should always be securely or properly fixtured – this applies to any cutting or finishing tools.
  • Keep electrical cords away from cutters or sources of heat or liquids.
  • Never orient a cutting tool toward your body. Don't drill something while holding it in your hand, and always move a power saw away from you.
  • Don't try to use a drill bit as a milling tool. We have some endmills for milling with the drill press and cross vise. Ask someone for help if you aren't sure how to do this.