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I work for a company that produces a tool that is specifically designed to address the issue of tablesaw safety, and whether I worked for them or not, after having used the tool, I would not want to operate a tablesaw without it.
It is called the Grip-Tite Magnetic Featherboard, and not only does it vastly decrease the probabilty of tablesaw injury, it also has the added benefit of greatly improving the quality of many of the cuts you make on a tablesaw, and also makes some cuts possible that would not otherwise be.
If you are interested you can see some short video clips of the Grip-Tite Magnetic Featherboard System in use at www.grip-tite.com.
I recently bought a scooter to ride back and forth to work, and I must say that I find riding it in traffic to be much more frightening than using a tablesaw!
This feather board grip-tite is great been using it for years and it has certainly helped me out as far as safety and quality of cut is concerned..great product! My hats off to the inventor..
I am new to woodworking and never had much exposure to power tools growing up (dad was lawyer that spent all his time in the office). In the 8-10 short months I have been making sawdust I have had some mishaps that has been kind of scary. The good thing is I havent lost any digits but did almost break my arm from kickback on a planar. Regardless I always keep safety first which is why those accidents werent more serious.
When it comes to table saws push sticks and featherboards are the easiest and some of the most effective measures to take. Safety glasses are also very important (just ask Norm). Hearing protection isnt a bad idea as well. Once you start using one you will develop a comfort level and feel safer using it. If you do have something go wrong take the time to figure out why and you will able to manage it better the next time. You can also take a class from a place like woodcraft that cover the basics of saftey. And like others have said be alert and make sure you are thinking clearly. Using a table saw should fun and enjoyable but never stop respecting it.
I find motorcycles way more dangerous than any table saw (I live in a state that doesnt require a helmet - why some idiots dont wear one is way beyond me). I personally know about 5 people killed on bikes but not a single one on a table saw. The point is you are not adverse to risky activties so go out, get a table saw and enjoy the projects you turn out.
BHD very well stated post. You are so right that unexpected things can happen at any time. I have seen people injured seriously doing simple tasks. Safe practices, caution, respect, and patience go a long way to safety.
I wish everyone the best in safety.
Table saws bring no more danger than repairing your own microwave oven, or unplugged computer power supply. Safety comes with awareness and calm thinking and a quiet work area. (No kids running through your garage or playing hoop basketball with your garage door open which may unwittingly distract attention.)
A sharp blade is safer than dull blade. No difference if using a saw blade or pocket knife. Table saws are actually a lot safer today than they were 40 - 50 years ago. Myself, I still don't install the safety guard - I feel it obstructs my vision, besides I'm so used to not seeing a guard over my 70 years having had dozens of Table saws.
But I do suggest 1 important item (if not 2).
Their called "Feather boards" and "Safety Glasses"
A push stick should be obvious without saying so. If a push stick came to your mind then you are already safety conscious.
A feather board will prevent kickback, further it will keep your work down, and a 2nd feather board will keep the stock against the fence and blade.
Now you only need one hand that operates the push stick. You hands will be far from the blade.
And speaking of Motorcycles. I was raised in the Alps. That's all we had to drive in my days because roads didn't support large cars. I was in 3 accidents on a bike with all 3 cutting in front to make it into the far right lane. I was cut-off 3 times (in Los Angeles) the 3rd time the car panicked and stopped dead in front of me. That was my last ride, it put a hole in my helmet and I flew 20 feet over the car. Put an antenna through my lowers and busted my pelvic, and paralyzed my legs (miracle the paralysis disappeared a year later) BUT; I operated saws and machinery for 70 years without incident. All I can add is that you are in control when operating a saw, while on the road the car next to you is in control.