Safe use of a Tablesaw

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    Eastern shore of, Pa

    I agree with Dan, I wouldn’t do the walk around


    I’ve done the walk around a few times and it’s scary, I never let go of the piece and didn’t take my eyes off of the blade either. But I felt very uncomfortable doing it. When your instincts tell you it’s not safe then it probably isn’t.

    Belgrave, Ontario , Canada

    I have a bunch of tablesaw guards they just aren,t on my saw 🙂 My fingers are always within a 1/2″ – 1″ away from the blade so I am always alert to what I am doing .

    Honesdale, PA

    John how many hours a week do you spend ripping down stock on the saw?


    I will say it again, when you use any power tool and you do not feel comfortable with an operation then you should not do it. When you are the only one in a shop and you do not have a large outfeed table and the board is heavy and maybe long then you are very safe to walk around (Board Balanced) and pull it through. Short light boards should always be pushed from one side with a proper push stick. You can also flip the board 180 degrees if you don’t want to walk around and pull it out. The only problem with that is you may not have an even cut.

    Should you ever get a board which pinches the blade because the wood is not dry, learn how to push down on the feed end to get it off of the blade OR RAISE IT UP ON THE FEED END TO GET IT OFF THE BLADE. NEVER REACH ACROSS THE BLADE TO TAKE IT OFF. LEARN HOW TO GET AT THE KILL SWITCH IN AN EMERGENCY.



    I don’t use a blade guard either. But I use the blade separator and anti kick back paws. And safety glasses always. I agree the zero clearance insert is a lot safer when blade is 90* to table.

    Belgrave, Ontario , Canada

    Brian when I use the tablesaw it is usually for 8 – 10 hours at a time . Most of the cutting is done at once .


    I cringed with I saw Tommy freehand feeding a rip into a table saw (without guards BTW) on This Old House this week. Irony is, the rip fence was only about 3″ away. He should spend time in the stocks for even showing this. That’s how the idiot won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Ryobi.

    Do I use guards? No. They’re awkward and get in the way. I do, however do all crosscuts and miters on guarded sliding cut-off tables and use two push sticks when ripping or grooving. Or two fingers of the pushing hand is over the rip fence.

    I just wish that mfrs had gotten more serious about guards such as riving knives. They had 70 years to do so.

    Birmingham, Alabama

    I always tell the new guys ‘If you get cut by the table saw you might be able to sew it back on or together, but the router won’t leave anything for stichin up!


    I would never freehand on a table saw. I don’t do crosscuts either, that’s why I have a SCMS and a track saw. My guards are missing.

    I consider myself very aware of the dangers and how things go, when using a table saw. I won’t rip anything longer then about 8′ by myself. I do walk around the table all the time and knock on wood, I’ve never lost the piece of wood. I’ve gotten pretty adept at keeping a hand on the piece as I switch sides. I do use a push stick for narrow rips.

    Like any saw, I adjust the height of the blade to just clear the work piece.

    Mark E.

    Pioneer, CA

    Working Pro 1972 - 2015
    Member since Jan 22, 2013

    Birmingham, Alabama

    My main concern after the initial safety training, is with debris around the base of the saw.
    While you are focused on the blade…you can get hurt if you trip on trash and fall into the spinning saw.


    That’s a really good point Rob, tripping hazards anywhere in the shop are dangerous but they are super dangerous around the table saw. I always make a point of keeping the saw dust cleaned up around my table saw too so that the floor doesn’t get slippery.




    All of these are great ideas. I would also stress, NEVER be in a hurry. There is always time to get the job done, but you can’t go back in time to prevent a bad accident. I have had 2 close calls and both times I was just rushing. Luckly I can still count to ten with out taking my shoes off:-)


    Amen Brendan. Also stand so that if there is kickback you are not in the line of fire.


    Lon, as a teacher I had alot of boys in my classes. I always showed them the proximity of the tablesaw height and the human groin. they seemed to grasp the com=ncept immeditly 🙂


    haha that is true Brendan. Kickback isn’t only about wood flying towards you in general, but also at a certain height :(… Gotta keep protected!

    John S


    I upgraded my cabinet saw to include a riving knife — it was a retrofit and it works great. I also use an overhead gaurd. Of course, since moving to a track saw system I have not turned my cabinet saw on in some time and keep debating about selling it and freeing up some room. Not sure…I like it, but it is a dangerous tool that can bite quickly.

    Orange County, CA

    halifax, nova scotia

    simply not paying attention is the big thing. on tuesday one of our hardwood flooring guys wasnt paying attention and cut the tip of his finger on the table saw.. it was just a nick but still needed 4 stitches

    heres a tip, dont fart in a space suit


    Yes, Jeff…I agree. Not paying attention or being in a hurry/tired is a big culprit. I had a nasty kick-back on my table saw a few years ago trying to make one more cut, not thinking and trying to cut a small piece. Within milliseconds bam…piece shot back and left a nasty bruise and road-rash on my side (all the skin was gone). Luckily I was using a push stick as that went into the blade when the piece shot out…could have been worse but I still to this day think about that injury whenever I approach the saw. Hard lesson to learn and I was extremely lucky. Now I am always cognizant and if I am the slightest bit tired I turn off the light in the shop and come back when I am rested.

    Orange County, CA


    That is excellent advice Scot. That has been my motto along with even 1 beer at dinner means no power tools that night.

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