What’s a lockout and why should you use it? Consider the following scenario. You’re in the middle of repairing a tool or an appliance. You’ve unplugged the equipment and are working in a safe manner. Then someone else enters the room and for whatever reason plugs the equipment back in. What follows may be nothing, it may be damage to the equipment, or it may be serious injury and death.

A lockout provides a physical barrier to prevent a piece of equipment from being restarted. You can, of course, purchase lockouts. They are used in factories and laboratories around the world. Hobbyists may not often use them, but they should. Even if you are alone in your shop, you may accidently reenergize a tool.

My lockout works by encasing the plug portion of a tool. I use a container that used to hold wood screws. Besides the container, you will need a lock, a label, an electric drill, a drill bit (sized to the lock), and a knife.


Start off by removing the old labels. Then, using a marker, draw out a semi-circle a little bigger than the diameter of an electrical cord. Do this on the body of the container, right at the point it meets the lid (see photo). Cut out this portion with a knife.


Closing the lid, you will need to drill two holes for the lock — one through the lid and one through the body of the container (see photo).


Put a new label on the lid with a warning message. That’s it! The lockout is ready to be used.