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  • Tablesaw Safety

    As I have been looking at tablesaws, my wife came to notice the risk and severe injury one can suffer from kickback and/or a slip of the fingers into a spinning blade. She took note of this while we were at a Woodcraft store, which had a SawStop saw on display along with a video showing the risks of a TS and how SawStop addresses it.

    Despite reading all I can find, I have never actually used a table saw. I need to know how well the risk can be managed if all reasonable precautions are taken. What causes so many TS accidents? What is it I should (and should not do)?

    I am OK with risk, as long as I can manage it. I ride fast motorcycles for fun (even at my age of 55), but the thought of losing a few fingers is scarier than bailing off the bike. I see SawStop is going to release a contractor type saw with the same safety technology as the full size saw, and supposedly the price will be around $1,000. That is a lot more than any Ridgid table saw, but perhaps it is worth it. I certainly felt that way after a few bike crashes using top notch safety gear.

    Thanks,

    - Phil

  • #2
    Re: Tablesaw Safety

    Originally posted by Phil3 View Post
    As I have been looking at tablesaws, my wife came to notice the risk and severe injury one can suffer from kickback and/or a slip of the fingers into a spinning blade. She took note of this while we were at a Woodcraft store, which had a SawStop saw on display along with a video showing the risks of a TS and how SawStop addresses it.

    Despite reading all I can find, I have never actually used a table saw. I need to know how well the risk can be managed if all reasonable precautions are taken. What causes so many TS accidents? What is it I should (and should not do)?

    I am OK with risk, as long as I can manage it. I ride fast motorcycles for fun (even at my age of 55), but the thought of losing a few fingers is scarier than bailing off the bike. I see SawStop is going to release a contractor type saw with the same safety technology as the full size saw, and supposedly the price will be around $1,000. That is a lot more than any Ridgid table saw, but perhaps it is worth it. I certainly felt that way after a few bike crashes using top notch safety gear.

    Thanks,

    - Phil
    There are a lot of people who never get hurt with a table saw, just like there are a lot of people who never get hurt in a car. If you can afford the SawStop, and your wife is on board with it; you probably would not regret buying it. I don't think the contractor saw is released except to a few "beta" testers right now, but the general opinion of the cabinet saw that I read on several of the boards breaks down into 3 camps:
    (1) The SawStop cabinet saw has very good fit and finish, and is among the best saws out there regardless of the safety technology.
    (2) I want the safety technology, but can't afford it.
    (3) Steve Gass [the CEO] uses questionable data, and trying to force us all via government mandate to use safety equipment that he has patented.

    If you go to woodnet, you can find a thread on it. Via way of full disclosure, I am in camp 2; and if RIDGID would have licensed this technology I would have paid extra for it.

    I guess the other thing is that with any saw, you should have a safety budget for push sticks, a few feather boards, etc. Also, whenever you can, you should use your blade guard. SawStop will reduce the severity of an injury [hopefully turning what could be an amputation into a band-aid]; but if you don't touch the blade in the first place you are in a much better position.

    One safety feature RIDGID doesn't yet have is a rise and fall riving knife instead of a splitter. The general consensus seems to be that they are better than a splitter, but the only reason I see is because you don't take it off (like many people do with their splitter). If anyone else who is more knowledgeable can provide other reasons that riving knives are good, I would also appreciate it. I think that you can get a Jet, Delta, or Grizzly with one of these.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Tablesaw Safety

      Phil,

      Table saws, or for that matter any "circular" saw, scares the heck out of me! Kickback is a very real problem, and perhaps just the nature of beast, so to speak.

      When I was fourteen, I witnessed my father remove two fingers and mangle a third when the saw grabbed the workpiece. A real mess and one which took him a while to recover from. For me, it was more a mental shock kind of thing and it took me a lot longer. I didn't buy a table saw until I was 62!!!

      As I look back I can see there are a lot of reasons for that accident and all could have been avoided. Lack of knowledge, wrong cutter, too tired, rushing, and no safety devices like a push stick, splitter, etc.

      Since that accident way back in 1958, a lot has happened to make table saws safer and to educate all of us on the hazards presented in modern woodworking. But much of my father's accident are still present in all of us.

      My fears were recognized very early and my High School shop teacher, steered me toward the Radial Arm Saw and over the years that's been my favorite tool. Yet the majority of woodworkers would certainly argue that the RAS is far more dangerous. But that's a whole other story.

      What I've learned though, is that any power tool can be dangerous, although probably none more evident then the table saw; if for no other reason than it's popularity and essential place in woodworking.

      From my experience much of the danger falls into two catagories, with the first being those who have little or no experience and have not taken the time to know the tool, its dangers, and the proper and safe operating techniques. The second, is those who have come to be so experienced that operation becomes "second nature" and their comfort level with the tool has caused them to drop their cautionary guard.

      My own procedures are to never approach working power tools if you're tired, distracted, or otherwise unfocused on the task at hand. Pay attention to what you are doing, and especially the steps you are going to take for any operations that you are going to perform with the tool. Most important perhaps is knowing the tool; is everything adjusted properly, is the tool performing well, and is everything where it should be and operating perfectly? Visual inspection and using all of your senses to continually analyze the tools operation is very important.

      You also need to practice the "what if's" constantly. For example: What if the saw kicks, where are you standing and is there anything or anyone in the path. What if the saw stalls? What if you blow a circuit, loose your lights, need to get to the power switch, need to push something away from the blade... what if, what if, what if ??? And if the "what if" occurs, what's your next move and how quick can you make that correction?

      Like many things that are totally enjoyable (your motorcycle for example), there are dangers. Some are technicalities of the equipment, some are accidental occurances, and some are just events of the moment that are there, but unrecognized. One needs to approach with safety in mind, but also with enough education and skill that the experience is satisfying.

      Be careful and enjoy,

      CWS

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Tablesaw Safety

        I find the fact that you ride fast motorcycles but won't use a table saw a bit ironic. Fast motorcycles are more likely to cause injury...especially if you are riding on the street. The other drivers are the ones most likely to cause you harm on the street, and you can't control their actions. You can control you actions around a table saw.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Tablesaw Safety

          I used a table saw for the first time about a year ago. I did not have my own, so I borrowed one from a friend. He took the time to educate me on safety procedures, and I followed them carefully. After completing that project, several months passed, and I decided to start another project. I borrowed the table saw again feeling much more comfortable with it.

          To make a long story short, one day back in January, I found myself trying to rush through some cuts to be able to have pieces ready to glue up that night. I got a little too careless with saw and mangled the tip of my right middle finger. It's taken two full months to get it almost back to normal, but, fortunately it will recover fully.

          I can tell from your post that, although you have taken a few spills on motorcycles, you continue to enjoy riding them. I am the same way with the table saw. The next night after my accident, I was back in the garage (with a bandaged hand) cutting away, but with a much more heightened sense of awareness and safety. I actually bought my own table saw (Ridgid TS2410LS) a week ago today, and I'm about to go down to the garage to fire it up for the first time.

          My purpose in posting this is twofold. First, to share my opinion there is a lot of satisfaction to be derived from using a table saw (and other tools) to make things. And second, to urge everyone to maximize that enjoyment by always being safety conscious without letting fear and anxiety control you. This can actually lead to stress levels that can cause more accidents than they prevent.
          Last edited by dc-tn; 03-21-2008, 11:21 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Tablesaw Safety

            I don't have one myself, but my old man does, and I used them all the time at an old workplace, as well as back in shop class in high school. I've had a fair bit of usage time on them over the years - no accidents or near-accidents myself, knock on wood.

            Yes, they can definitely be a scary and intimidating tool. But, with the respect and know-how that this tool deserves, they are an invaluable asset.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Tablesaw Safety

              Originally posted by workerbob View Post
              I find the fact that you ride fast motorcycles but won't use a table saw a bit ironic. Fast motorcycles are more likely to cause injury...especially if you are riding on the street. The other drivers are the ones most likely to cause you harm on the street, and you can't control their actions. You can control you actions around a table saw.
              Well, I never said I won't use a tablesaw. And while debating which is more likely to cause injury is debatable, it is not my aim here.

              Motorcycle riding has inherent dangers, not unlike a tablesaw. I have educated myself and developed the skills to minimize the chance of an accident, though they have happened (in early years). I am trying to go through the same process for using a tablesaw (hopefully better, with no accident). However, unlike a motorcycle crash, where injuries could be none (to admittedly fatal), contact with a blade is almost always going to be bad.

              All that said, it is apparent, risk management for motorcycles, tablesaws, bungee jumping, or any other risky endeavor is about education, alertness, preparation, executing safety procedures, and equipment set-up. Not unlike riding the bike, I know why many people crash on a bike, and I learn from that so I don't repeat their mistake. I do not know so well what missteps tablesaw accident victims made, but would like to so I can be a safer operator.

              - Phil
              Last edited by Phil3; 03-21-2008, 11:34 PM. Reason: Grammar.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Tablesaw Safety

                No matter what kind of safety doodads your tools may have, the most important piece of safety equipment is the stuff between your ears.
                ‎"I've never let my schooling interfere with my education" -Mark Twain

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Tablesaw Safety

                  Originally posted by res057 View Post
                  No matter what kind of safety doodads your tools may have, the most important piece of safety equipment is the stuff between your ears.
                  I agree, well put by res057. The other factors are don't let yourself get distracted or overconfident when operating any power tool.

                  Follow the link in my signature line for tips on using power tools if you are new to them.
                  ---------------
                  Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                  ---------------
                  “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                  ---------
                  "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                  ---------
                  sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Tablesaw Safety

                    on any tool with moving parts, one needs to set safety clearances, when I was teaching my kids I went so far to paint a red "rectangle" around the blades of many of the shop tools

                    2" on the band saw,
                    3" inches on the table saw,
                    4" on the radial arm saw,

                    and so on, the same for the drill press and other tools,

                    the idea of this is to remind one to keep your hands that far away from the blade, sides, top, front, and rear,

                    If you need to get closer you use a push stick or some type of tool that will allow you to safely move the wood through the blade,

                    not saying that will remove all risk, but it will limit it extensively.

                    I would venture to guess that 98% of all accidents that happen when some one takes a "chance" and put there hand/fingers in risk zone, (not saying some one could not slip or have some condition that would allow some form of accident in another form,

                    It is jsut like some stamping presses have two handles that have to be griped before the machine will cycle, you can't hardly get your hand smashed or removed if your gripping the safety handle, same with the saw keep your body in the safety zone or out of the danger zones and you will normally not have a problem.

                    Also hold things in such of a way if something goes wrong it will not pull you into the blade,

                    99% of the time when I am pushing wood items through the saw and my hand is between blade and the fence, and nearing the danger zone, I will hook my finger or fingers over the fence to keep my hand in place regardless of what happens to the wood,
                    Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
                    attributed to Samuel Johnson
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Tablesaw Safety

                      Originally posted by res057 View Post
                      No matter what kind of safety doodads your tools may have, the most important piece of safety equipment is the stuff between your ears.
                      Absolutely. I just want to be sure the gray stuff is well informed and educated. - Phil

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Tablesaw Safety

                        Originally posted by Bob D. View Post
                        I agree, well put by res057. The other factors are don't let yourself get distracted or overconfident when operating any power tool.

                        Follow the link in my signature line for tips on using power tools if you are new to them.
                        Wow, excellent link! Thanks! I am pretty good about focus and avoidance of distraction, but also need to forcefully discipline myself not to rush.

                        - Phil

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Tablesaw Safety

                          Originally posted by BHD View Post
                          o

                          Also hold things in such of a way if something goes wrong it will not pull you into the blade,
                          How one can be "pulled" into the blade puzzles me. Exactly how does that happen?

                          - Phil

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Tablesaw Safety

                            losing a board is not a normal, but does and can happen, probly had it happen a few times in the last 40 years,

                            Kick back. of various types,

                            pinching the blade , stress wood, can cause the wood to bind into the blade,

                            a knot exploding out of the board, (lose piece breaks away and catches the blade)

                            twisting of the lumber on a small piece,

                            cutting an angle creates more problems,

                            some one startling you, (do not move your hands regardless) (hard not to react normally),

                            lumber not properly supported and you lose control of it as it is being cut,

                            jsut believe me things happens on occasion,

                            I have been cutting along and some thing binds and the wood is no longer there, (usually on smaller pieces), (but like I said only a few times in the last 40 years),

                            Are table saw dangerous, YES, there designed to cut things, that makes them dangerous in it own right, are they some thing that is unsafe to use, depends on how one uses it, and yes there are some inherent dangers but with a few simple precautions I think most can be avoided,

                            jsut like your motor cycle, are they dangerous, (yes to sit on two wheels at 60+ mph per hour with nothing but your shorts between the potential pavement and your butt, or the windshield of the other cars, makes them dangerous) are they unsafe to ride they can be, but a lot of it is how you do it and the chances you take, yes the stuff can hit the fan on any one and not be there fault, but then if you follow a few precautions, and wear some of the proper gear the safety of the bike is greatly increased,

                            but you can not get up in the morning with out taking some chance of injury, or can one stay in bed either.

                            The saw you talked about is a good saw from all the reviews I have seen, and looks to be a great safety feature and it works most of the time correctly but have read some reviews that is is not 100% reliable, but neither are brakes on a car, not saying do not buy one because on one test it failed. (personally I would like to have one in my shop).
                            (do not like the guy trying to lobby to require it on all new saws tho, and to make others buy rights to his idea).
                            Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
                            attributed to Samuel Johnson
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Tablesaw Safety

                              Originally posted by Phil3 View Post
                              As I have been looking at tablesaws, my wife came to notice the risk and severe injury one can suffer from kickback and/or a slip of the fingers into a spinning blade. She took note of this while we were at a Woodcraft store, which had a SawStop saw on display along with a video showing the risks of a TS and how SawStop addresses it.

                              Despite reading all I can find, I have never actually used a table saw. I need to know how well the risk can be managed if all reasonable precautions are taken. What causes so many TS accidents? What is it I should (and should not do)?

                              I am OK with risk, as long as I can manage it. I ride fast motorcycles for fun (even at my age of 55), but the thought of losing a few fingers is scarier than bailing off the bike. I see SawStop is going to release a contractor type saw with the same safety technology as the full size saw, and supposedly the price will be around $1,000. That is a lot more than any Ridgid table saw, but perhaps it is worth it. I certainly felt that way after a few bike crashes using top notch safety gear.

                              Thanks,

                              - Phil
                              Phil,

                              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!

                              Comment

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