Tools #5: Overhead Blade Guard

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Blog entry by mot posted 11-02-2007 05:46 PM 12634 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I’ve been meaning to blog this for awhile. I’ve gotten a few messages asking about my blade guard so I wanted to give the story.

As many of us know, the blade guards that come with standard table saws are awkward to use and often get taken off and never replaced. My original motivation for the blade gaurd, however, was not safety. It was dust control. When I set up my shop in my basement, I got overhead dust filters and dust collectors with piping. After cutting with my tablesaw, I always had a big poof of dust all over the place. I realized that a significant amount of fine particles come off the top of the saw.

I started hunting for plans for a blade guard and looked at some commercial offerings. Anyone that’s been through my shop tour or my shop cam have learned that I worked in a crammed space. It’s small and it’s bordering on over-tooled. I know that’s blasphemy, however, it’s a fact of life. Most of the overhead blade guards either mount to the extension tables or to the floor. With my setup, I just couldn’t do that and started looking to ceiling mounted solutions.

Excalibur, a Canadian company that makes scroll saws and blade guards was offering a new item. It was a ceiling mount blade guard, but without the mount. I thought, Canadian, blade guard, ceiling mount? It’s all good and ordered one. Excalibur has since been bought out by General, another Canadian company.

That left me having to design and build a mount for my shop. I’m a hobby woodworker and a hobby metal worker, so no problem. As I have rack of steel in my garage, I headed out to the shop to build the prototype.

Starting with some angle iron, I cut a recess in one end to accept another piece welded at a right angle. This is going to be my stop for the blade guard so it doesn’t swing too and fro.

I used 1” square tubing to weld an H shaped rack that would mount to the dimensions of the Excalibur unit.

I ground all the welds flush and got ready to take it down to the shop for the test fit.

After a bit of fiddling and realizing the floor joists are at 14” centres in my house, I got it attached to the ceiling of the shop.

The Excalibur unit attached to the new blade guard. It all fits and swings correctly.

Waiting for the paint to dry after the test fit.

And finally, with dust collection hooked up and ready to work.

For ripping smaller stock and for using mitre guages and cross cut sleds, the blade guard goes up to the ceiling out of the way. Well mostly. I’m 6’1” and it hangs at 6’ 3/4”. I do hit it from time to time. Also, as my outfeed table and tablesaw double as an assembly bench, it’s nice to get it out of the way as well.

Please note: This as of writing this, Excalibur no longer offers this variation to their popular blade guard.

Thanks for reading!


-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

9 comments so far

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4017 days

#1 posted 11-02-2007 06:16 PM

Good work around Mot. I will have to do similar with mine when I move to the new shop.
I will probaly sacrifice the extended table top on my saw for a panel cutting sled.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3958 days

#2 posted 11-02-2007 07:08 PM

That’s neat, Tom. I guess you just don’t move your saw around. But, I guess in your shop that’s not a problem. I sure do under stand about the flying saw dust while cutting. I hate cutting particle board because it feels like sand hitting me in the face.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4032 days

#3 posted 11-02-2007 07:19 PM

Yeah Tom, I keep my saw in a fixed location. If I run into a sheet good that is beyond the capacity of my setup, then I use my Festool TS55, or I take it out to the garage and make it easier to work with. I’ve found, for my use, if I have to keep moving things around to use them, I won’t use them. Then I won’t go into the shop. Then my mood degrades. That’s why the shop is setup to just be able to use things in place.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4093 days

#4 posted 11-02-2007 08:27 PM

I hate to admit it, but I have had a Biesmeyer over head guard sitting on my saw waiting to be installed for a while. The peacock is actually holding it down at the moment. I guess I need to get after it and get it installed.

(See my workshop if your wondering about the peacock comment)

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4061 days

#5 posted 11-03-2007 05:49 AM

Mot, I hope you win the never ending battle with dust in the shop – but it all uphill. What you really need in your shop is a Peacock.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6855 posts in 3975 days

#6 posted 11-03-2007 12:22 PM

Hi Tom;

Great solution!

I keep thinking of doing the same thing everytime I use my saw. Even with the best dust collection systems, the blade is throwing dust at you, or in this case, me.

I’ve been meaning to do something about it, and your idea is along the lines of what I had envisioned.

This past week especially, since I’ve been working with particle board and Melamine. That stuff tastes horrible!

I bought an overarm gaurd system for my unisaw, but it just wasn’t convenient, and offered no dust collection consideration. I ended up cutting the main arm of it, and machining a coupling, so I am able to rotate it out of the way, when desired. Maybe I can come up with a solution similar to yours, using this guard as a starting point.

If I do, I’ll post it.



-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3870 days

#7 posted 11-05-2007 08:49 AM

That’s a nice setup. The best thing about it is that it keeps the chips and dust out of your face. But once that thing is bolted to the ceiling, it seems you may as well take the wheels off your table saw, right?

Anyway, I like it. When can you install one in my shop?

-- Happy woodworking!

View Dan Pleska's profile

Dan Pleska

142 posts in 3956 days

#8 posted 12-03-2007 07:57 AM

Nice solution to the problem, Tom. I wanted to do something similar in my shop. I tried for weeks to get in touch with someone from Excalibur, but couldn’t get anyone to answer or return my calls. I finally found out that this was right at the time when they were selling out to General. Right after that I was at the big AWFS show in Atlanta and visited the General booth. They said there wasn’t enough interest in the overhead design and probably wouldn’t market it. I ended up going with a floor mount model from yet another Canadian company. I’m using the Exaktor overhead guard and am very satisfied with the dust collection. When using my sled, I rotate the end of the collector vertically out of the way.

-- Dan, West Virginia,

View Myron Wooley's profile

Myron Wooley

226 posts in 3891 days

#9 posted 12-03-2007 09:20 AM

I just installed a 4 inch Mega-Mouth Shark Guard from Lee Styron. His workmanship is impeccable, and the guard is very effective at dust removal. He makes them for just about every TS out there, and he’ll work with you to design one for your saw if he hasn’t done it already.

-- The days are long and the years are short...

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