First off, any tool with a spinning cutter can do significant damage.
Basic tenets of table saw operation.
1. The blade spins downward as you push the work into it, or away from you. For the first several inches this works in your favor, pressing thew work slightly down on the table. Then, as the work starts to pass the rear of the blade it is lifted slightly off the table. Your job is to keep it pressed down, moving forward and in constant contact with the fence. If the work leaves the fence at the rear it will be pushed up and back toward you by the blade and it may come back with considerable force, a kick back. I started with kickbacks because they are more common than flesh cuts and are seldom reported or require a visit to the ER.
2. The larger the table, the better the work is supported, from side to side and front to rear. One of the best safety accessories you can make is a outfeed table support for your table saw. This is like having a second hand or helper to keep the work from dropping away and to keep you from reaching over a spinning blade....NO...NO...
3. You will find that ripping, cutting down the length of the work piece, on the table saw is it's best function. Cross cutting shorter lengths works OK, but longer lengths are best cut using a miter saw. When the work is large , heavy or long move the saw into it. When the work is short and small move it into the blade.
4. When your work piece is warped or twisted and will not lay flat on the table and square against the fence, you should not saw it.
This is a kickback waiting to happen. How do you make certain your workpiece is straight, square and flat? For that you need a jointer, a specialized woodworking machine with a wide cutter, unlike a table saw with a narrow blade. The cutter can take small amounts off the workpiece until it's flat.
Another specialized machine is a thickness planer. Once you have a straight, flat surface coming off the jointer you can run it through the thickness planer to make it a constant thickness along it's entire length.
With the 3 machines mentioned above you can process any type of rough sawn wood within their physical limits which opens up a whole new world of woodworking possibilities. :smile3: