Safety Shields

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Blog entry by richgreer posted 01-03-2010 11:45 PM 2164 reads 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I don’t know what kind of response this post will get – but I am curious.

I’ll begin with an honest confession – as I write this the safety shields on my table saw and jointer are not in place. I only put them on when someone else is joining me to do some work in my workshop.

My excuses are a little lame. I dislike taking them off when using a dado on my table saw or using my jointer to cut a rabbet.

I’m curious, how many of us use our table saw and/or jointer safety shields on a regular basis, occasionally or not at all?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

23 comments so far

View David Murray's profile

David Murray

187 posts in 3084 days

#1 posted 01-03-2010 11:53 PM

I must admit I almost never use me safety shield on my table saw. I guess it’s because I just don’t like it. I do however always use the one on my jointer.

-- Dave from "The Sawdust Shed"

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3239 days

#2 posted 01-03-2010 11:54 PM

I have mine on at all times unless I am using a dado blade on the table saw….for my router table…I use feather boards mostly and leave the plastic shield at the top….I don’t have a jointer yet…but am planning one in the near future (I use my friends now when I need a flat face/long rabbet). I always wear a face shield instead of safety glasses though….and a heavy apron which has a few marks from items that would have stuck in me without it. I have found that every time I shortcut – (i.e. why put the riving knife back on when I have my zero clearance and just making one cut) – that is the time I get burned….Like I said above….I have several marks on my apron….have replaced the face shield a few times from scratches/scrapes all from close calls from “shortcuts”.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Uncle_Salty's profile


183 posts in 3042 days

#3 posted 01-04-2010 12:01 AM

I use them whenever possible… now! I used to use all the lame excuses, too.

The bad part about experience is you usually have a “bad” experience before you get good and experienced!

I still got all ten… and I will do all I can to keep it that way from now on!

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3338 days

#4 posted 01-04-2010 12:20 AM

I always use them, with really rare exceptions, like cutting breadboard tenons on table tops.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3737 days

#5 posted 01-04-2010 12:26 AM

i don’t use one on the table saw…. but thats because i don’t have one. If i did i would use it. For my jointer i do use it all the time. i wouldn’t want to slip into that blade.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3791 days

#6 posted 01-04-2010 01:00 AM

I use mine all the time, especially on the jointer. Using a jointer without a guard on it is an accident waiting to happen. I will remove the blade guard on my table saw when I am making a dado cut but that is just about it. With my old saw changing the blade guard was a challenge and I ran it for years without putting it back on but with the saw I am running now switching from the blade guard to a riving knife or removing them altogether takes less than a minute to complete.

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

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3143 days

#7 posted 01-04-2010 01:14 AM

I use what safety features I have, whenever it is physically possible to use them.

For example, cutting my tenons or using my crosscut sled, on the table saw, requires I remove them.

After activities like that, though, they go back on. On my saw, that’s about a 15 second process … or less.

Some argue that safety features (bicycle helmets are a classic example) create more risky behavior, by imparting a false sense of security. For me, I don’t buy it. For my woodworking, I definitely don’t buy it.

More than a few LJs have lost a digit, or a partial digit, just since I’ve been on this site. Scary stuff.

Either way—and I don’t judge—be safe, huh?

-- -- Neil

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 3755 days

#8 posted 01-04-2010 01:24 AM

I have to say I dont use the one for my TS but my jointer is in place.
I just had a scary moment about two weeks ago with the TS but luckly all I received was two very bruised fingers and a small cut on the thumb for the pressure of the wood binding and the pinch point coming togather.
Safety gear is always a good thing!

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View woody57's profile


650 posts in 3396 days

#9 posted 01-04-2010 01:26 AM

I don’t use one on the table saw because it is too hard to take off and put back on for dados etc.,but mostly because I’ve never used one and have gotten used to it that way. The saw in my high school wood shop didn’t have one. I have worked in 3 different cabinet shops and none used a guard on the table saw. I have visited many shops and have never seen anyone with a guard on a table saw.

On the jointer, everyone I know including me keeps the guard on at all times. I know they are designed for it, but I have never seen anyone use a jointer for rabbits. I have always used the table saw.

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3044 days

#10 posted 01-04-2010 01:43 AM

I think I am going to have to rethink my position on safety shields on the jointer in particular. I heard recently that the jointer is responsible for more workshop accidents than any other tool, except the radial arm saw (which I no longer have). The thought of getting ground up in jointer blades scares the crap out of me.

I have used the jointer to cut rabbets because in just a few seconds it is ready to go. It is so much quicker than mounting a dado or setting up a router. Nonetheless, I need to rethink that as well.

Regarding my TS. Will some manufacturer please make an overhead guard at a reasonable price (i.e. a guard I could leave in place when cutting a dado).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View ROY53's profile


77 posts in 3147 days

#11 posted 01-04-2010 02:00 AM

Perhaps a further question could be in order on this topic. How many trips to the ER for shop accidents?
For me safety shields: none (don’t own a jointer anymore but used the safety shield when I did) 1 trip to ER 7 stitches and $3200 (TS) no serious permanent damage.

-- Roy L, Arizona

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3044 days

#12 posted 01-04-2010 02:08 AM

I’ve been to the ER twice in the last few years. Once because an innocent looking piece of walnut decided to jump off my lathe and hit me (very hard) in the head. The other time was due to a problem with my drill press. I’ve never been to the ER (yet) for any problems with the TS, jointer or any other of the “so called” dangerous tools.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View hunter71's profile


3158 posts in 3156 days

#13 posted 01-04-2010 03:11 AM

I do not use one on mt TS. I feel that by keeping my blade set just above my work I have less of a chance of being cut badly. Another point is keeping a sharp blade. My Delta Unisaw had plenty of power and I don’t ever force any work through it. An old saw was underpowered and I felt it was a problem waiting to happen.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3730 days

#14 posted 01-04-2010 03:24 AM

My saw guard is always in place when doing thru cuts – no exceptions. When using the stacked dado I use rubber bottomed push blocks, never getting my hands in harm’s way.

Using the jointer to cut rabbets is rather controversal. My jointer has a “feather board” type of guard which is akward to remove, so I make this kind of cut with the dado set-up on the table saw. I think this is becoming the preferred method.

Using a jointer without a guard is extremely dangerous. This machine is a real “meat grinder”, once getting ahold of you it will draw your hand in further. Very grusome injuries – nothing left for the surgeons to re-attach.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View finns's profile


161 posts in 3086 days

#15 posted 01-04-2010 03:47 AM

It took me one trip to the ER with the loss of an index finger tip to take workshop safety seriously. Since then, guards stay on all equipment and I practice safety the best I can. Accidents do happen, but as I learned there are precautions I can take to reduce my chances of visiting the ER.

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