Safety Tips for Working with Table Saws - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 27 Old 03-13-2017, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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Safety Tips for Working with Table Saws



More than 60,000 table saw injuries occur every year. About half of those are from hobbyist woodworkers and half are on-the-job injuries. While not every accident may not be avoidable, observing good safety practices when working with a table saw can save a lot of pain, lost hours and possibly limbs.

Make a Habit of the Obvious

The basics of table saw safety should be so ingrained in your daily habits that you don't have to think about them -- but that doesn't mean you should ignore them, either. Elementary concepts like not reaching over the saw while it's in motion (or even plugged in) seem a little obvious, yet they're easy to forget when you're in the groove of working on a project. Basic safety habits go out the window when you're tired or rushed. Try not to work with your saw when you're feeling exhausted and give yourself plenty of time to complete a project.

Inspect and Clean


Table saw safety begins before you ever start your project. Inspect your equipment: have you put the blade on correctly? Is it sharp? Is it the right blade for the job? Clean any debris from your work table before you begin, even if you think it isn't in the way. Check your power cord for any frays or tears prior to plugging in your saw.

Take inventory of yourself, too. Are you feeling foggy-headed or tired? Do you have an injury or ache that might make standing a certain way too difficult? For example, you should always firmly plant your weight on both legs and avoid leaning on your saw table to avoid injury should the wood lurch or kick. If your knee is hurting, you might not be alert enough to avoid falling onto the saw if the wood reacts in an unexpected way. Make sure your personal protective equipment is in good order, too. At minimum, you should have a serviceable pair of safety goggles. PPE does no good if it's sitting on a shelf, so don it before starting your work.

Expect the Unexpected


Woodworking is an adventure and sometimes the wood acts unpredictably. Anticipate kickback from the saw. Consider that it could happen at any time. Check and double check the positioning of your equipment and yourself every time you switch spots to make a new cut. Know your limits and respect them – there’s nothing so important that you should lose a finger over it. Keep the guard on and use a push stick for cuts six inches or closer to the blade.

Table saws are fast and they're powerful – that's what makes them one of the most invaluable tools in your workshop. Give them the respect they deserve by recognizing their potential to cause devastating injuries and be diligent in your safety practices while operating the equipment. Make safety a habit to avoid injuries.

What safety tips would you add to this list?

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post #2 of 27 Old 03-13-2017, 08:25 PM
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another "fake" photo?

If you are going to post a photo of a saw being used, why not have an actual cutting process "stopped" to take the shot? The photo you show makes no sense what so ever. The miter gauge is being used on a rip cut for no apparent reason. It has always been advised not to use both the fence and the miter gauge simultaneously. It may also be in the way of the hand position needed to safely make the pass. The blade is not raised high enough to cut through the plank.

You also failed to mention the 2 distinct types of table saw injuries... flesh cutting and kickback. Each requires specific conditions which will cause the mishap. Your topic should be greatly expanded to include specific cause and effect examples.

There is also no mention of outfeed support tables, splitters, and other accessories that add greatly to the operator's safety. I supposes it's a place to start the discussion.....
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post #3 of 27 Old 03-14-2017, 10:11 AM
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Most obvious in that photo is the TS is missing the blade guard! Be safe!
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post #4 of 27 Old 03-14-2017, 10:27 AM
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Maybe the photo is to illustrate what not to do

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post #5 of 27 Old 03-15-2017, 08:09 AM
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Table saw safety tips, the videos .....

https://video.search.yahoo.com/searc...=&action=close

There are a whole bunch of videos on table saw safety by some pretty well known woodworkers as well as some unknowns. I have my own theories, some of which are included in these videos, and other which may not be.

The very first tip I have is to have a clean, well lighted work space with no dust or scraps on the floor OR on the saw table itself. This is my table saw setup made from 3 separate saws bolted together, Sawzilla as some folks here have called it. I have my reasons for this concept, and I realize that not every woodworker has the space or the inclination, but some here have been inspired to make their own using 2 saws:
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post #6 of 27 Old 03-15-2017, 10:38 AM
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the next safety tip

Next, make certain your saw is set up properly. The blade should be adjusted parallel to the miter slot as close as possible. If you can get it within .001" great. I find that if I extend the plane of the blade using a steel straight edge between the teeth, I can measure at each end giving a longer length than just the blade itself. I hold the straight edge with magnets at each end to keep it in contact with the blade.

I use either a tri-square or a calipers with a digital readout to measure. Adjusting the carriage requires loosening the bolts, usually 4 on a contractor saw and levering the carriage and arbor without the motor and belt attached. On a cabinet saw it's a bit easier since the table is attached to the cabinet separately. You have a choice of moving either the table or the carriage for this adjustment.

The fence must also be parallel to the miter slot to avoid binding of the workpiece. The miter slot is the only reference on the saw that can not be changed since it's milled in at the factory. All measurements therefore are referenced from the miter slots. Binding of the workpiece during a pass will cause the blade to stall or throw the piece backwards, a kickback.

Older saws came with a plate called a splitter that is bolted to the carriage and is inline with the blade. It must be adjusted parallel to the blade using the straight edge which is the best method. The splitter plate must be just slightly thinner than the kerf made by the blade. New blade may be "thin kerf" so you will nee3ed to measure the splitter for that dimension. Newer saws have a riving knife which will move up and down when the blade is raised or lowered, a better idea. Blade covers or guards come in many flavors. I don't like anti-kickback pawls and have removed them from my splitters.
I have experimented with several blade guards fro a simple two sided wood cover to dust collecting PVC systems. There are times the blade guard is just in the way and can not be used to make certain cuts.

The blade must be adjusted 90 degrees to the saw table using the tilt adjustment and the 90 degree stop. The stop is usually in the miter slot and adjusted with an Allen wrench from the top. There are 2 stops, one for the 45 degree cut and the other for the 90 degree cut. Do not rely on the markings on the side or front of the cabinet to set your angles. Use a draftsman's triangle or a digital cube like a Wixey.
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post #7 of 27 Old 03-15-2017, 10:47 AM
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operator gear

You should wear safety glasses at all times. Hearing protection I feel is optional. A leather apron holds pencils and will help protect you in the event of a kickback. I use a leather welder's apron from Harbor Freight, about $10.00 or so. Do not wear gloves around spinning blades. Do not wear long sleeved shirts unless you roll them up and secure them with a rubber band. Do not operate machines with long or loose hair styles. Wear non slip shoes with steel toes if possible. Nothing like having a full sheet of plywood fall on your big toe in a pair of sneakers..

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post #8 of 27 Old 03-15-2017, 10:54 AM
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zero clearance throat plates

You can't really talk about saw blades without getting into the safety aspects of a zero clearance throat plate. I never used one for years until I understood why they are a great idea. I would have thin strips of cutoffs get wedged into the factory opening and want to pull them out while the blade is still spinning so I could make the next cut. This is a really bad idea. You can buy them in blanks form or make them using a router and a flush trim bit. I like the UHM blanks from www.ptreeusa. They have the height screws built in and are really slick.
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post #9 of 27 Old 03-15-2017, 11:17 AM
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why so many saw blade types?

Saw blades can be a confusing topic for a newbie. There are thin kerf and full kerf, and 24 tooth, 40T, 50T, 60T and 80 tooth blades. There are carbide and HHS blade, but they have mostly been made obsolete by the carbide. Simply put, the fewer the tooth count the more rough the cut. The fewer the tooth count, the bigger the gullets between the teeth and the more efficiently/faster it will rip. I hate changing saw blades and that's one of the big reasons I have for my 3 saw setup. I keep a 24 tooth on the far left, a 50 tooth combination in the center and a dado set on the right side. I rarely need to change out a blade.
When is a cut a rip or a crosscut? If you are using the rip fence, it's a rip, and if you are using the miter gauge, it's a crosscut. It doesn't matter what the material is, plywood or hardwood lumber. Ripping hardwood lumber has special considerations since it has internal stresses that my open or close the kerf on the blade. Plywood, particle board and MDF is stable and will not do that. The advantage of a splitter or riving knife is that it will prevent this condition avoiding a bind and potential kickback. The other less known advantage of a splitter is that it will not allow the workpiece to come off the fence at the rear, causing the workpiece to ride up and over, coming back at you with considerable force. This has happened to me several times before I reinstalled the splitter on my saws. Again, I just didn't know any better or understand how and why they worked.

The table saw is used for ripping lumber more than any other machine. It comes with a "rip fence" which is used for this operation. As mentioned previously, the rip fence must be aligned parallel to the blade or a binding condition will result. Binding during the cut is a potentially dangerous situation. It may require you shut the saw off and remove the workpiece. My saws have a large paddle STOP switch that I can bump with my leg while I keep both hands and eyes on the top of the saw until the blade stops. I have used this feature countless times.

I keep a push stick handy on the right side of the fence to push the workpiece safely through past the blade.
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post #10 of 27 Old 03-15-2017, 11:33 AM
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cross cutting and mitergauges

The miter gauge is used for crosscutting. The factory supplied gauge is not sufficient in my opinion, for safely making crosscuts. It will not push the cutoff piece past the spinning blade, leaving it in the way and temping you to pick the piece up coming dangerously close to the blade. There is a simple fix. Just make a secondary wood fence that extends past the blade on either side. This wood fence is "sacrificial" in that you saw through it when crosscutting your workpiece. This gives you the exact location of the saw kerf and makes locating your cutting mark real easy. It also acts as a push block to get the cutoff piece past the blade where it can be removed OR pushed along by the next pass.

DO NOT reach around a spinning blade to retrieve a cutoff!

Another advantage of an extended fence on the miter gauge is the use of a stop block for making multiple piece of the same length. Do NOT place your stop block on the cutoff side of the blade when using an extended fence. You can place a stop block on the fence side of the blade allowing a few inches for the cut off to safely lay there without binding. You can locate your stop block on the left side of the extended fence and bump your workpiece to it for each succeeding cut.
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post #11 of 27 Old 03-15-2017, 01:09 PM
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ripping warped or twisted boards

DO NOT place a twisted or warped board on the table saw. DO NOT try to cut a board with a curved edge against the fence. Either of these conditions will result in a bind/kickback or a unsatisfactory cut.
Only flat and straight edged boards go against the fence, having been previously jointed and surfaced. This photo shows a twisted board not laying flat on the table. It is "what not to do"......
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post #12 of 27 Old 03-15-2017, 01:18 PM
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supporting the workpiece

It took several years for me to figure out how important a good solid outfeed table was not only for ease of operation, but for safety reasons. Obviously, if the workpiece falls on the floor after making a cut it may get damaged and you'll have to walk around to gather it up for each piece. You should NEVER reach over or around a spinning blade to catch a falling workpiece. If it should slip out your grasp, the natural tendency would be to grab it before it hits the blade.... a flesh cutting disaster. If it hits the spinning blade, it will get thrown back at you so fast you'll get injured. My saw setup has an outfeed extension which is butted to an assembly table. This amounts to about 48" of support at the rear of the saw. When ripping extra long pieces even that is not enough. I have had to open the French doors on occasion for longer lengths.
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post #13 of 27 Old 03-15-2017, 01:38 PM
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table saw fence types

The photo above shows the 3 types of fences I use on Sawzilla. They are all Unifence by Delta, now discontinued. Each is different however. The far left is the stock Unifence bar that came with the Delta head. The center bar is an aftermarket T track with UHM side from www.ptreeusa. The wood fence is shop built for making rabbetts and is sacrificial.

Stock fence is a 2 position bar. It has a low position and a tall position. I like the low position because it leaves room between the fence and blade for your fingers or a push stick. These are "staged" photos and do not show the use of a push stick. I recommend that you use one when ripping small, narrow pieces like this.







I have one saw that has a Biesemeyer fence. It's a great heavy duty fence that always locks down parallel to the miter slots, a very important condition. It's not as versatile as the Unifence but I still like it:

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post #14 of 27 Old 03-15-2017, 11:37 PM
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do not place a curved edge board against the fence

To make a rip on a board with a curved edge use a "straight line rip jig". A curved edge will not completely register all along the fence and you will end up with a board with a slightly less curved edge. I may also bind and kickback. I made a simple jig using hold down clamps and some 1/4" Masonite to straight line rip curved or live edge boards:
I needed to straight line many, actually dozens of pieces, so I made a "jig" rather than scab on strips each time, which is way too time consuming for me.... "snap on" then rip and "snap off'"...next piece...
I made two sizes,one long enough for 8 footers and a 54" for shorter boards. I used 1/4" hardboard for the bottom and a 1 X 3" piece of Oak for the toggles to mount on. It looks like this:




I did that entire stack as fast as I could clamp them, rip them, unclamp them and stack them.

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post #15 of 27 Old 03-16-2017, 02:38 AM
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
https://video.search.yahoo.com/searc...=&action=close

The very first tip I have is to have a clean, well lighted work space with no dust or scraps on the floor OR on the saw table itself. This is my table saw setup made from 3 separate saws bolted together, Sawzilla as some folks here have called it. I have my reasons for this concept, and I realize that not every woodworker has the space or the inclination, but some here have been inspired to make their own using 2 saws:
How do 3 table saws bolted together improve safety? I can understand 3 table saws in 3 different locations, but not 3 saws bolted together. In my opinion, it increases clutter and reduces work space which could be a negative safety feature. What can 3 table saws bolted together achieve that a single saw cannot?
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post #16 of 27 Old 03-16-2017, 07:23 AM
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Huh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jig_saw View Post
How do 3 table saws bolted together improve safety? I can understand 3 table saws in 3 different locations, but not 3 saws bolted together. In my opinion, it increases clutter and reduces work space which could be a negative safety feature. What can 3 table saws bolted together achieve that a single saw cannot?
You can have your "opinion" but you seem to be in conflict within it. "You can understand 3 separate saws in 3 different locations....HUH? How would that reduce clutter OR reduce work/floor space? Having 3 separate saws would increase the need for floor space. If you read the entire thread, you would know how 3 saws can make woodworking easier and more safe. I know of several members here who have 2 saws in the same table or are "bolted together" so it can't be such a terrible idea. Here's one example:
Bill, A.K.A Woodnthings inspired table saw build
Also see post number 3 who says he has the same setup.

Addiitionally, I NEVER made the claim you are expousing, that 3 saws bolted together is a SAFETY "improvement"....show me where I did.

However, since you brought it up so, I will deal with it. The wide table surface is SAFER when dealing with large sheets of material like plywood, since it is well supported on either side of the blade. The additional width makes wider panel cuts SAFER since the fence can be adjusted to a wider dimension. Having different types of fences available within arm's reach makes for SAFER cuts when speciific operations demands it.




Not having to stop to change out a blade for a specific operation is SAFER in that it reduces "down time" and the work flow can be maintained. Reaching into the throat plate with sharp edges and sharp blades can be dangerous, so that step is eliminated.

For a guy who makes his own "table saws" using circular saws mounted upside down in plywood you don't have any credibility in my opinion. You don't even own a real tablesaw, only makeshift ones that are cobbled together. Show us your saws so we can judge for ourselves how safe they are. People who live in glass house shouldn't throw stones.... How about adding some useful information or "tips" to the thread instead of just being critical of another member's attempt to be helpful? Post up or shut up ....

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post #17 of 27 Old 03-16-2017, 08:16 AM
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I am not going to respond to your negative personal comments, since you have no idea what kind of setup I have. And when a person puts on condescending air, I just ignore it. You could have answered my query without being obnoxious. Since you have posted 12 posts about your setup in this thread, I wanted to know how 3 table saws bolted together could add anything to safety. This is a safety thread or not?

And regarding floor space, my point was about 3 saws in different locations, such as garage, backyard, workshop, etc., not in the same work area.

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post #18 of 27 Old 03-16-2017, 09:47 AM
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Hearing protection is a must, just like eye protection. I wear them any time a power tool is on, whether it is a drill, TS, lathe or whatever. I wear HP especially when vacuuming as my shop is small and noise is amplified off the concrete.

My wife gives sound advice. 99% sound and 1% advice.
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post #19 of 27 Old 03-16-2017, 11:07 AM
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no tips?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jig_saw View Post
I am not going to respond to your negative personal comments, since you have no idea what kind of setup I have. And when a person puts on condescending air, I just ignore it. You could have answered my query without being obnoxious. Since you have posted 12 posts about your setup in this thread, I wanted to know how 3 table saws bolted together could add anything to safety. This is a safety thread or not?

And regarding floor space, my point was about 3 saws in different locations, such as garage, backyard, workshop, etc., not in the same work area.
I see that you have posted zero tips regarding table saw safety.
I do however, have some idea about your setup.
Most recently you posted in this thread.
First Table Saw Cut
See post number 8:
Sorry to learn about your injury. I never reach out over the blade to pick up the cut piece. I have 3 make-shift table saws set up to cut maximum depth (2-1/4", 3", and 5-1/2" respectively), and as a rule never let any part of my hands closer than 6" to any of them until the blade has completely stopped. Have kept all my fingers and thumbs so far!

You posted this in a thread about 8 months ago:
A Woodworker's Guide to Table Saws
See post number 5:
Table saws are great tools, provided you have the money and shop space for them.
I use circular saws mounted under the table with portable mounts which can be removed when not in use. This has saved me money and a lot of workshop space. But ... some of my friends here may not find it 'safe'

And in this thread:
Can I run split logs through a planer
See post number 3:
I rip my logs on a make shift table saw with a 14" blade after planning one side by hand. But this is not recommended for a novice woodworker.

Like I said 3 "table saws" cobbled together from circular saws....

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post #20 of 27 Old 03-16-2017, 12:52 PM
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My only tip is to be careful (not overconfident)

The most dangerous thing when working with table saws is hubris. To think "my saw has all the safety features, what could go wrong", and the next thing you know ... Bang! This is what the original poster is highlighting.

So adopt a humble attitude when working around table saws, and be ever watchful! Also, don't keep too many saws bunched up together as you might trip and fall over them.
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