Would there be fewer injuries if with less powerful tools, especially table saws?

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Forum topic by TopamaxSurvivor posted 04-02-2011 02:37 PM 1524 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18283 posts in 3697 days

04-02-2011 02:37 PM

Topic tags/keywords: fewer injuries less powerful smaller tools table saw

I have been thinking I will probably need to replace my little 3/4 hp Craftsman table saw as I get into higher quality woodworking and more hard wood. I have been fire wooding a lot of pallets and saving a few choice pieces when I find them. I have an old 3/4 hp table saw I have been using for part of the demo. I was cutting up full pallets on it but they get to be a pain to handle and there is a lot of binding. The little motor gets bogged down and trips my circuit breaker once in a while. I gave that up a long time ago as a bad idea and just use it for cutting individual pieces. The crappy wood will still occasionally bind on the blade. If that saw were a 3 or 5 hp, this would be a really dangerous activity! I am wondering if lesser tools for most projects would be more appropriate and safer. Still counting to 10 without using toes ;-))

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

25 replies so far

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3362 days

#1 posted 04-02-2011 02:49 PM

pallets by nature are ‘rough’ wood mostly
twists bows and cups
keep it rocking and rolling thru the saw

needs to be straightened and flattened first
so it doesn’t bind
of course then it is smaller too

be safe

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

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4422 days

#2 posted 04-02-2011 02:53 PM

I don’t necessarily think that lesser power tools are safer. That be like thinking that dull tools are safer.

Me I’d use a skill saw or a reciprocating saw to cut up pallets. I’ve used a recipotang saw and used it to cut the nails in disassembly, I do this especially when removing studs when remodeling my home.

Cut the nails and then pull out the pieces.

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

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2825 days

#3 posted 04-02-2011 03:00 PM

I agree with david.. pallets are rough. you can find some parts that may be good, I’ve seen a lot of nice projects come out of pallet material.
As far as your saw…. with straight, flat work pieces, and a riving knife, binding would be minimal.
A lot o times, we create our own “un-safe” conditions.
Safety First, I’ve always been taught, and told. I try n practice this. With a larger motored saw, and, straight, flat stock, you would be safer, and much more happier with the finished cuts
Just my opinion/s
Please be safe

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2689 days

#4 posted 04-02-2011 03:25 PM

I have used pallet wood on some small projects,they turned out good
I did not have any problems with binding ,using my shop made riving knife
Best defence against binding , is sharp blade, splitter,or riving knife ,and proper fence alignment

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4240 days

#5 posted 04-02-2011 04:02 PM

Bob, I see your point, and I think it can work both ways. Working with an underpowered tool might sometimes cause a bind or other accident of some sort. On the other hand, there are probably times when you get into a jam and can outmuscle a 1 h.p. saw to keep yourself from getting injured, but a 3 h.p. machine would kick your butt.

Overall, I agree with Karson. A sharp tool is generally safer than a dull tool, even though it might be easier to cut yourself with. I would apply the same logic to power tools. More power is usually safer.

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

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18283 posts in 3697 days

#6 posted 04-02-2011 04:10 PM

Sharp and dull is an entirely different matter. That little motor really shows the difference after hitting a couple nails then being fed an oak 4×4 ;-) Where i have noticed a lot of stresses that cause binding is crosscutting hard wood even with the blade sharp. Maybe part of it is my lack of experience with hardwoods or the stresses in the low grade of lumber.

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

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2935 days

#7 posted 04-02-2011 04:14 PM

I am still cringing from that recent story of the guy who nearly bled out from a chisel accident and his 3 or 4 year old called 911 (story/911 recording hit the news big time). However, my thoughts are that one could just as easily get killed walking in front of a horse drawn chariot as walking in front of a MAC truck.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3072 days

#8 posted 04-02-2011 04:29 PM

If a piece of wood is going to bind from internal stresses being released, then it’s going to bind. That is where a riving knife or splitter is really helpful, whether it’s a 3/4-HP motor, or a 3-HP motor (although the 3-HP will tend to “muscle” through it better as mentioned above).

I would not personally disassemble a pallet on a tablesaw. I feel that it is easier to maneuver a small handheld tool like a reciprocating saw, or a circular saw, as opposed to a big, unwieldy pallet. I’ve taken a couple pallets apart, but only a couple. I started with a reciprocating saw, but also used my 7-1/4-circular saw. Both worked well, although the circular saw was faster.

Whichever route you decide to go, just remember to consider safety first by taking the proper precautions and respecting the tool. I’m not saying you don’t personally practice safety first… it’s more of a general reminder to everyone.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2689 days

#9 posted 04-02-2011 04:44 PM

If you are putting a fully assembled pallet on a table saw to cut ,you are using the wrong tool

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 3086 days

#10 posted 04-02-2011 05:07 PM

I have to agree with Karson. As far as which power tool. You can get hurt. The only the difference might be how fast it happens. With good saftey habbits you should be alright.

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 2857 days

#11 posted 04-02-2011 06:54 PM


Do you use a cross cut sled? That may help with somebinding. I found that when I upgraded from my first TS (a cheap $54 mastercraft) to a low end bigboy saw (technical term) the porter cable 270ts, those kicbacks and bindings went away with better alignment and power.


-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View patcollins's profile


1685 posts in 2887 days

#12 posted 04-02-2011 08:00 PM

Fall from a 5 story building vs fall from a 100 story building…

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18283 posts in 3697 days

#13 posted 04-02-2011 08:57 PM

No sled or anything else, this is demo work. Circular saw binds up some too, but not as bad as the TS. Like I said, I gave it up. Easier to do the initial break down with circular saw.

I was amazed at how easily the wood outmuscled the saw. Guess that doesn’t apply to cutting work pieces.

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

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4947 posts in 3982 days

#14 posted 04-02-2011 10:41 PM

Karson said it well. Dull? Safe? NOT!!!! You can shoot yourself with a .22 or a .45.
I’m gonna go with a more powerful and well-tuned power tool whenever possible.


View drewnahant's profile


222 posts in 3110 days

#15 posted 04-02-2011 11:26 PM

I think that the main safety issue is how you use the tool. safety guards are good to some extent, but they can create a false sense of security, and reenforce bad habits, then when you do that odd cut that requires you to remove your blade guard, or whatever other safety guard, those habits really cause harm. as far as power goes, I think that there is a balance, you dont want to use a 12” 5hp saw to cut 1/4” strips, but on the other hand, with more power, the saw does not bog down as much, does not grab as much, and does not encourage you to push so hard that a minor slip sends your hand flying forward toward the blade. Reminds me of the old lesson that a sharp kitchen knife is actually safer than a dull one, becuase the harder you have to push, the more likely you are to slip.

My personal practice is, remove the blade guard, use wedges in the kerf, and always keep my hands at least 6 inches from the blade and out of line with the blade so if I slip my hands are not going to slide into it. As far as kick-backs go, with big stock the weight of the board will keep it from really flying, and with small stock, just remember to stand to one side, and let it go. WITH PROPER HABITS, YOUR TOOLS SHOULD BE RESPECTED, NOT FEARED.

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