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View hammeredon's profile

safety guards

by hammeredon
posted 02-02-2010 04:47 PM

29 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3545 days

#1 posted 02-02-2010 05:27 PM

I still have all my fingers but don’t use a table saw saftey guard. It’s just impossible to put on and take of a guard . I feel if you can use one you should.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3742 days

#2 posted 02-02-2010 06:46 PM

I have all my fingers and do not use table saw safety equipment on my saw. I know that I should but after 40 + years of not using them, I feel it hinders me more than helps me. I like to see, feel and hear the blade when I am cutting. The hearing part is not so good any more! Some of you old timers might know what I mean by feeling and hearing the the blade. This might sound stupid and more stupid that I do not use safety equipment on the saw. The guards and splitters on the new industrial saws are outstanding and I highly recommend that you use them. This is one of those, Do as I say, Not as I do!

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4214 days

#3 posted 02-02-2010 07:32 PM

I must say even after losing part of a finger I doubt if I’ll put it back on. I am just too used to using the saw without one, I will however put the splitter on that was on the guard. That would have prevented my accident. Not the guard.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3729 days

#4 posted 02-02-2010 07:43 PM

I’ve been woodworking since ‘83 and the saw guard is on all the time. Thru the years upgrades have given me anti-kickback pawls and a riving knife. The only time the saw is used without this guard is when dadoing or making non-thru cuts. Then I use a push block. I can’t even recall any “close calls”.

Apparently, most emergency room visits are made by experienced woodworkers and professionals. Disaster can happen in a split second, often with a chain of minor events and distractions. Murphy’s law is always in place.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View MrHudon's profile


114 posts in 3178 days

#5 posted 02-02-2010 08:02 PM

Still have all my fingers…knock on wood.. Been woodworking for 35+ years, never used any guards or riving knife on my table saw.

-- Mark,

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3790 days

#6 posted 02-02-2010 08:39 PM

I still have all ten, although I did sharpen my left index finger a decade back. I used to never use a blade guard or splitter but with my current saw it takes less than a minute to take them off or put back on so I always use them.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View webwood's profile


626 posts in 3218 days

#7 posted 02-02-2010 08:58 PM

i have no guards – spending most of my life in the printing industry taught me to never take mt eyes off my hands – i’ve known many in the press room to be distracted for a split second and lose a hand or an arm – respect and focus can keep you alive – i get very annoyed when someone tries to talk to me while i’m operating. oh – yes i still have all my digits – several scars from printing – but no loses

-- -erik & christy-

View Bobby's profile


108 posts in 3020 days

#8 posted 02-02-2010 09:00 PM

I ALMOST lost my right index finger on my jointer… and that HAS a guard… well… kind of. It’s that thing that with the spring that covers the blades when nothing is passing over them.


View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3302 days

#9 posted 02-02-2010 09:44 PM

I don’t use a guard and I have never had a tablesaw accident in the 14 years I’ve had it. I do have a riving knife and I consistently use push sticks and I never get my hands close to the blade while the saw is running. I did cut myself twice quite some time ago on the band saw due to stupidity once and careless the other time. Never say never, but I think I’ve learned my lesson.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View jussdandy's profile


157 posts in 3175 days

#10 posted 02-03-2010 02:26 AM

I have never used a guard and so far so good, but on a sad note one of my customers and good friend did loose 3 fingers yesterday, havnt gotten the details yet but they were able to sew them back on.

-- Randy I have the right to remain silent, just not the ability ; )

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18249 posts in 3644 days

#11 posted 02-03-2010 02:48 AM

I use it when it’s not in the way. I can still count to 10 after growing up on a farm, then doing wood and electrical work for 40 yrs ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View flyingoak's profile


68 posts in 3076 days

#12 posted 02-03-2010 03:10 AM

I have all my equipment. I guess Im a coward….. i use all the guards and splitter.

-- where is the duct tape.....

View dlmckirdy's profile


199 posts in 3101 days

#13 posted 02-03-2010 03:16 AM

I had the splitter, kick-back pawls, and blade guard on my TS when it took a bite out of my right thumb. I hate the blade guard, but use it when it does not interfere with the work/visibility. I am going to devise a quick release for the guard, so that I can keep the splitter/pawls in place most of the time. I never use the saw with the blade fully expended, but rather only about half the gutter depth above the stock, both for cleaner cuts on the wood and less damage to my hands if I do contact the blade again (maybe that’s why I still have my thumb).

When I upgrade my router table fence, I will install a bit guard on it. All other tools that came with guards have them in place and are nearly always used.

-- Doug, Bakersfield, CA - I measured twice, cut it twice, and it is still too short!

View woodworm's profile


14465 posts in 3558 days

#14 posted 02-03-2010 03:19 AM

As Topamax said, use it when it’s not in the way.
I had my left thumb cut with less then a cm skin left – so it did not drop. That was 46yrs ago when I was 10.
I was cutting betel palm with big long knife (we called it parang) and surely no guard installed.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View mdbohica's profile


26 posts in 3015 days

#15 posted 02-03-2010 03:27 AM

I was taught to always use all the safety equipment I could muster. So do that.

That being said, I find it a PITA to “feel” everything working and moving with the guards and safety glasses on.

When I turn on any power tool, I always remember what my 7th grade shop teacher always used to tell us. “Don’t you dare get my tools rusty!!”

View nordichomey's profile


100 posts in 3070 days

#16 posted 02-03-2010 03:35 AM

The company I work for has taught me a couple of things. It takes proper equipment (guards) AND safe behavior. Either one on there own is not sufficient. When I started 20 years ago we had safety measures that said a certain amount of reported injuries and fatalities was okay. Today, Zero reported injuries and fatalities is the standard. Our plants have confined spaces, lots of moving conveyors, high work environments, etc. The company standard is…. Your employees have injuries… you as the manager loose your job.

-- nordichomey

View RichClark's profile


157 posts in 3398 days

#17 posted 02-03-2010 03:40 AM

I’ve never had an accident but my new TS hasa riving knife that is faster to change then the blade…

Focus and paying attention is the key… I had dental surgery last firday and was dieing to finish a cabinet I am working on.. but I noticed I was light headed due to the meds… and Sat & Sunday I sat on my butt, noodling out the joinery for the front pieces… even then when I went back to my notes I noticed some mistakes.

Said this to remind us all that (driving a car/Operating heavy machinery) the warnings on Meds are real
and should be headed..

2 coppers in the fountain…


-- Duct Tape is the Force! It has a light side and a dark side and it Binds the Universe together!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18249 posts in 3644 days

#18 posted 02-03-2010 03:44 AM

A lot has changed in the last few decades. When I was an apprentice, I was walking steel beams 45 feet up with bundles of conduit on my shoulder. That is the way it was, if you wanted to work. A few years later, Congress passed OSHA. It tool a long time for employers to get the idea that a certain amount of injuries and fatalities were not part of the cost of doing business.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18249 posts in 3644 days

#19 posted 02-03-2010 03:47 AM

Woodworm, I suppose the things I did as a kid on the farm and what you did would be considered child abuse today :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 3397 days

#20 posted 02-03-2010 01:21 PM

I have all of the safety equipment and guards for my shop and I use most of them most of the time. However, there are some shop tasks that just don’t work so well with all the guards, etc in place. I do believe that I become more aware of the hazards when I work without some of the safety items. Maybe that is why I still have all ten.

Yes I have all ten but one of them is sort of disfigured from a kickback off the shaper. I don’t think that would have happened if I had been using the safety devices properly. That was fifteen years or so ago and I still have flash backs whenever I set up to do any shaping. In fact, I sorta avoid the need the shape anything.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4045 days

#21 posted 02-03-2010 03:52 PM

I may be missing a finger, but it was NOT from using the table saw! I do not use the guard on my saw, to difficult to use and will not work with the zero clearance plates. (I do have my home made splitter installed in the plate though)

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4186 days

#22 posted 02-03-2010 04:16 PM

Like some others have said. I use guards when possible for the cut I’m doing, but there are tomes when it just has to come off.

I think our most important piece of safety equipment is our brain. Whenever I set up for a cut, I try to visualize what could go wrong, and make sure I’m protected if that happens. That might mean using push sticks, standing a certain way, or even rethinking the cut entirely. There have been times when I set up a cut, thought it through, and then decided I just didn’t want to do it that way.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View jasony's profile


47 posts in 3046 days

#23 posted 02-04-2010 06:06 AM

Been woodworking for about 8 years now. Owned a TS for 7. The only cuts I’ve ever made w/o the guard are dado cuts. To me, making a cut with the guard off is something I’ll NEVER do (unless unavoidable). I promised my wife and myself I would always be safe using the thing, and adhering to the guard is #1 on that list. Oh, I don’t mind the few minutes it takes to remove/replace the guard. It’s nothing compared to live without a significant part of a hand.

Oh, and what do I do for a living? I’m a musician/piano player, so I take these things to heart.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18249 posts in 3644 days

#24 posted 02-04-2010 06:21 AM

Seems to boil down to comfort level. Craftsman who use tools everyday are a little comfortable with them than the weekend warriors ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Steve Maskery's profile

Steve Maskery

48 posts in 3352 days

#25 posted 02-04-2010 01:10 PM

I’m over in the UK and we think that the average American is way ahead of us on skills and kit and space, and way behind us on safety!
A tablesaw can always be guarded, although not necessarily with the guard that came with the saw. Many guards are designed solely for ripping and just get in the way for anything else, especially any kind of blind cut, like grooving or cutting tenons. The answer is not to remove the guarding, but to use different guarding. I have a SUVA-style guard that I use most of the time and a stand-alone magnetic one that I use when the SUVA gets in the way. The guards have to be quick to change otherwise the temptation is simply not to use them at all. Some of my jigs have guarding built in to the design of the jig.

As to splitters, we don’t have them over here. I’ve never even seen one in the flesh. We have riving knives, and I believe they now becoming the norm over there, too. I hope so, because your market drives the world, and the new designs, which are not available over here, appear to me to be very good indeed. They will, eventually, trickle down to the rest of us.

Remember, everyone who loses a finger thought that they were OK up until then.

If you’d like to see the guards I use, here are a couple of films which show them:
Planer knife honing jig
Ultimate tablesaw tenon jig
These are promo videos, so you may wish to skip the ad at the end!

I have plans to modify the SUVA-style guard so that it pivots at the centre of the cover so that it stays level. It’s not often a problem, but it does stick up a bit if I’m cutting 2” stock.

What the world really needs is for a US manufacturing company to employ a European designer on their design team. That way way they would end up with a world-class product. Even the top-class recent models from Powermatic, Delta and I-forget-whoever-it-is-that-does-the-granite-thing, wouldn’t cut the mustard over here because of braking and direction of tilt.
Oh for the perfect tablesaw that is properly guarded in a way that doesn’t make common tasks impossible!

PS And yes, my tablesaw is a trad US Delta clone, with all its flaws and foibles. And I love it! :)

-- The Complete Tablesaw -

View MrsN's profile


985 posts in 3494 days

#26 posted 02-04-2010 08:17 PM

I got the tip of my finger on a table saw with a guard on it. The piece I was cutting got wedged between the fence and the guard (it had a slight tapper I didn’t pay attention to before I started cutting). I figured I could jiggle the guard and continue to make my cut, I did and got my finger too close.
I was in college and called my dad on my way to the urgent care, he said “are you ok” i said yeah, he said “how could you be so stupid”. When I called my mom to tell her, she said “I bet you wish you got that math minor now”. such compassion from my parents.

I keep the guards on the table saw when ever I can.

View Mogebier's profile


170 posts in 3001 days

#27 posted 02-05-2010 03:45 AM

I have all my fingers and it’s going to stay that way!
I use the guards on my table saw unless I cant get the wood around it. I use a variety of home made push sticks and always 100% of the time know where my bits are in relation to that spinning bit of sharp metal.
I also use a face shield when I lathe as my dental work has cost me too much.

-- You can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4, than you can with just a kind word.

View rsmith71's profile


269 posts in 3010 days

#28 posted 02-05-2010 05:48 AM

In 20 years I’ve had close calls and knicks, but I was using my push stick when I got hurt the worst on a TS. Cutting 1/8” trim and the piece blew up in the saw. A piece ran up the push stick and the end of my thumb split open like a ripe melon. That said, I don’t use the guards and I have been fortunate. The best safety equipment is your head. If you’re uncomfortable without the guards, use them. I agree with ND2ELK, I like to be able to see, feel and hear what’s going on. Safety equipment has improved over the years.

-- Robert - Haven Wood Crafts

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3176 days

#29 posted 02-05-2010 05:59 AM

I try to use safety equipment when possible, but I don’t count on it to keep me safe. Mostly, I make an effort to pay attention to what I am doing and think before and during each cut. Our best guard is between our ears.

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