on a table saw, what exactly is the guard for?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Safety in the Woodworking Shop forum

Forum topic by Mike Gager posted 12-03-2009 03:04 PM 8743 views 1 time favorited 65 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3445 days

12-03-2009 03:04 PM

ok seriously with all the table saw mishaps, missing fingers and such, are all these people who cut their fingers off on the table saw NOT using a guard? i mean is it as simple as that? what im asking is if these people ARE using the guard and still getting these horrible injuries, what exactly is the guards purpose?

everybody just loves the idea of a sawstop but shouldnt a guard covering the spinning blade tell you to keep your fingers away without the need for the expensive saw stop?

i personally dont use a guard on my saw but i also dont get my fingers anywhere near the blade. i have been considering reattaching the guard just to be on the safe side but really does it even help?

65 replies so far

View Karson's profile


35140 posts in 4578 days

#1 posted 12-03-2009 03:08 PM

I suppose that it would help. There are just some conditions where they get in the way so off they come.

Then it’s just a hastle to put them on and off so off they stay.

I don’t have one on my saw. I purchased a over the blade dust collector and it’s now off.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View highflyer's profile


35 posts in 3323 days

#2 posted 12-03-2009 03:29 PM

The gaurd was a good idea when they made it but it wasn’t a 100% way to keep from getting injured. You could still slip with the board your cutting and get caught under the guard. And not all injuries occur because your not watching sometimes it because a person is too cautious. Anothing thing to remember is, never say never. But you do bring up a valid point and everything that is done to avoid such injuries are good ideas.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3658 days

#3 posted 12-03-2009 05:54 PM

I dont use a blade guard on mine either. I do have the riving knife on it to prevent kick-back, but I agree with highflyer that not all cut fingers are caused by simply running your fingers into the blade. I think many times the board is kicked back or pulled into the blade with a persons hands getting pulled in with it. Course a blade guard may help there too. I dont use the blade guard because I think its hard to see what you are cutting and it sometimes seems to me to be more dangerous that leaving it off.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4000 days

#4 posted 12-03-2009 06:32 PM

As mentioned the reason that most people do not keep the blade guard on is due to the convenience factor. There are some instances , such as dado cuts and narrow strips, where the blade guard has to be removed to make the cut. And, if it is not convenient to replace it, the guard usually just gets left off. Manufacturers, recognizing the convenience factor, have begun incorporating quick change blade guards on their saws. But with the older saws this simply is not available with stock blade guards.

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

View Mark's profile


1807 posts in 3452 days

#5 posted 12-03-2009 06:35 PM

even if i had my guard on, over time it gets so dusty you cant even see your piece through it. i never had a problem without a guard. and without it you can make the craftsmans cuts, the impossibles, thin cuts, etc. i say its just in the way

-- M.K.

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 3891 days

#6 posted 12-03-2009 06:50 PM

i cut alot of tenons on the table saw , so you have to take the guard off for that, then it just stayed off. you just need to remember rule number 1 always keep your fingers away from the sharp spinning thing.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View patron's profile


13635 posts in 3519 days

#7 posted 12-03-2009 06:57 PM

i think that the guards were for industry ,
where repetitive cutting was done for hours ,
or where larger panels were being cut .
we as woodworkers are somewhat a new breed ,
( in the power tool world )
as we are constantly doing singular cuts and special cuts .
the guards are many times in the way ,
and as we all know seeing thru the sawdust on them (thanks mark ) ,
makes it impractical to use .
i have found that when you use the guards for thiner ripping ,
there is less control to the piece being cut ,
they may bind or lift with the guard in the way .
i don’t use one , but i dont use those pointy push sticks either ,
i use one like a boot , with the top way down and up over the fence ,
and the front down on the work for 6” to hold things down from fliping up,
and the heel to push forward .
no where that i have worked in 45 years have the guards been in use or required .
i guess they are for the insurance and lawsuit side of things .

just pay attention , thats the best guard !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3640 days

#8 posted 12-03-2009 07:06 PM

I think the guard is a manufacturer after thought because of OSHA and other regualtory safety agencies. As the others above me have stated it gets in the way and is then removed. Most of the standard supplied guards are pretty cheesy and useless. I personally will not put m hands any closer than 6”. I have an older Delta unisaw and the guard was missing. I keep my eyes on what I am doing and where the blade is.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3448 days

#9 posted 12-03-2009 09:47 PM

I think the guard is there so that the manufacturer doesn’t have to face a lot of lawsuits. I don’t think they provide much safety to current woodworkers…as aptly said by Patron….It’s like the stupid cautions on certain items…..i.e. the one on fuel cans that tell folks not to use a match to see the level…..You know that someone would sue the manufacturer if they sold the saw without the guard….and say they didn’t know the sharp spinning thing was dangerous….

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

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3410 days

#10 posted 12-03-2009 09:57 PM

It is a RARE occasion that I take my guard off. The guard is there, in the case of my Shark Guard, for 2 reasons.

#1. To keep errant fingers, arms, legs, and small furry critters from contacting the spinning blade. Of course you can run UNDER the guard and get nicely mechanically separated as well… #2. Provide a dust collection port for the top side of the saw. Especially important for those of us that use ZCTPs…

Out of abject paranoia I keep my fingers WELL away from the blade at all times. I have fabbed up a LOT of little work holding jigs for the TS…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View WoodSparky's profile


200 posts in 3280 days

#11 posted 12-03-2009 10:27 PM

Installing the blade guard was the last and finial step on setting up my new table saw. There were multiple pages on how to install it and adjust it. I’ll get back to it. 3 years later, still no guard. I still make a point of lower the blade below the deck when not in use.This makes me feel a little better.
I don’t know if horror stories are shared. At a local wood shop, guy tripped and his hand landed on to a table saw that was running while someone else was batch cutting boards. The guard was on the saw, but same cannot be said for the gentlemen’s 4 fingers.

-- So Many tools, So little time

View Boneski's profile


143 posts in 3311 days

#12 posted 12-03-2009 11:06 PM

I always use the blade guard on my saw and don’t take it off unless the particular cutting operation requires. The guard is there for a good reason and as some of you guys have already pointed out, it doesn’t matter how careful you are, it only takes one mistake to cause a life changing injury.

As Dbhost said – there are a lot of jigs that you can make in a short time to make things safer. My jig for ripping thin stock took all of 10 minutes to make from scrap MDF and it allows me to keep the guard on.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is use a bit of common sense and treat your table saw with the respect it deserves.

Work safe, play safe!

-- Blinded by brilliance

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 3869 days

#13 posted 12-03-2009 11:52 PM

I think we all play with dangerous tools everyday that could hurt us badly but we know the dangers so we know to keep little pinkys from very sharp spinning things

And for the record i took my blade guard off the day i got my TS

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View rustedknuckles's profile


160 posts in 3929 days

#14 posted 12-04-2009 12:23 AM

The guard is for removing. It gets in the way and luls inexperienced users into a false sense of security. Pay frigging attention to what you are doing and you won’t have any problems.

-- Dave- New Brunswick

View KevinVan's profile


91 posts in 3329 days

#15 posted 12-04-2009 01:52 AM

Don’t be fooled into thinking you are too skilled to have an accident.
The truth is you have been lucky…

-- ALS IK KAN “to the best of my ability,”

showing 1 through 15 of 65 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics