table saw safety question

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Forum topic by cpd posted 09-03-2012 05:15 PM 3076 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 2345 days

09-03-2012 05:15 PM

Hi, I’m pretty new to using a table saw and I have a pretty basic safety question. I’ve mostly used the saw for cross cutting, but now I’d like to rip a piece of wood.

I have a 6’ tongue and groove plank and I want to cut the tongue off of it, so it is just a flush edge. Because that is only about 3/4” of material, I’m not sure how to make the cut safely on the table saw. Would I but the part that I’m keeping against the fence, and feed with a feeding stick? That way it doesn’t seem like I have a good way to apply pressure to it as it enters the blade. Alternatively I could put the narrow part that I’m cutting against the fence, but that seems iffy to me as well. I know this is a basic question—any advice?


21 replies so far

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2526 days

#1 posted 09-03-2012 05:23 PM

Your offcut (the tongue) should be farthest away from the fence, so that you are running the keeper piece of the board against the fence. This will ensure that the narrow offcut does not get trapped in between the blade and the fence. You don’t want to be be using a push stick in such a narrow space if you don’t need to.

-- John, BC, Canada

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5 posts in 2345 days

#2 posted 09-03-2012 05:25 PM

thanks. the board measures about 7 inches wide total, so I’d probably want to use the push stick anyway, right?

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2429 days

#3 posted 09-03-2012 05:40 PM

Yup, use a push stick. Good ones will allow you to put some downward pressure on the workpiece as well as push it forward. Don’t use one of the old-time ones that is designed just to push forward. It’s also a good idea to make a bunch of push sticks of different thicknesses and hook depths. By hook depth I mean the drop down from the part lying flat on the wood to the bottom of the part that hooks onto the wood. You don’t want to use the same push stick on 1” stock that you would use on 1/4 ply for example.

If you are new to ripping, also make sure your fence is properly aligned and that you have a splitter/riving knife that is also properly aligned. Both are very important in ripping. As is the guard of course !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

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1057 posts in 2517 days

#4 posted 09-03-2012 05:46 PM

Thanks for asking, use a push stick. You might even want to have two push sticks, one two hold the board against the fence, and the other two push it through. Make sure you don’t push to hard with the push stick, you might flip the board up, That can be dangerous. Be safe, and good luck!


View cpd's profile


5 posts in 2345 days

#5 posted 09-03-2012 06:37 PM

i only have one of those old time ones that has a tiny little notch. I’ve never felt very comfortable using it, but as I said, I don’t rip very often and when I do usually shorter lengths anyway.

do you have a picture or link to a picture of the type of push-stick you referring to? Is it one I could build easily—I’d rather not buy anything too expensive right now just to make a cut.

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2817 days

#6 posted 09-03-2012 07:14 PM

A router and flush trim bit is another way to handle removing the tongue.

That push stick you have? Throw it out. It’s dangerous.

Here's the type I use.
Adjust dimensions to your needs.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

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2202 posts in 3399 days

#7 posted 09-03-2012 07:50 PM

Yeah, just rule of thumb, the waste piece of wood always falls off the opposite side of the fence, when possible. This also has the additional benefit of assuring that your measurements do not have to account for the width of the kerf.

-- jay,

View rance's profile


4267 posts in 3401 days

#8 posted 09-03-2012 07:58 PM

The worst kind I’ve seen is this:

You simply have NO control of your workpiece.

One of the simplest ones to make is similar to this:

Dimensions aren’t critical.

As for cutting on the TS. Draw a line(an imaginary line) between the blade and your reference surface(rip fence, in your case). Somewhere along this line is where you should be ‘controlling’ the wood. Using the rip fence, as you stated, push between the blade and the fence. Generally, the piece between the blade and fence would be larger than what is being removed, regardless which piece is being kept for your project. If need be, use a featherboard just before the blade to keep the material held against the fence.

Here’s a poor example of how to push material through:

The bulk of the material is on the wrong side of the blade, and the push block should be between the blade and the fence.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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5 posts in 2345 days

#9 posted 09-03-2012 10:25 PM

thanks guys for responding with very useful images. I have been using the bad kind of push stick, it appears, which is probably why it feels so unstable and why I avoid ripping. I built a cross cut sled and that serves most of my purposes very well. But I will gry to construct one of these better versions, and maybe even buy a feather board for added safety.

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2526 days

#10 posted 09-03-2012 10:39 PM

Feather boards and (good) push sticks are the way to go for ripping narrow stock. Anything that provides additional control while allowing you to focus on the cut will make life easier (and safer).

-- John, BC, Canada

View KnickKnack's profile


1094 posts in 3807 days

#11 posted 09-04-2012 06:37 AM

A lot of the wood I’ve used has been tongue and groove so I’ve done a lot of this.
I remove the tongue by hacking it off with a jig-saw, then planing ‘til it’s pretty close, and finish with the router and straight edge. Same when I want to remove the groove.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30153 posts in 2578 days

#12 posted 09-04-2012 06:53 AM

They answered better than I could. Welcome to LJ’s.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Woodknack's profile


12469 posts in 2620 days

#13 posted 09-04-2012 07:32 AM

A push stick will never ever give you the level of control you have with your hands, there is no need for a push stick with 7” between the blade and fence. Stand to the side of the board not behind and keep it tight against the fence while pressing down. If the board is hard to push, something is wrong. Keep your hands on the board. Feed at an even rate, not too fast so your saw doesn’t bog down (which shouldn’t be a problem just cutting a tongue) and not too slow.

-- Rick M,

View oldnovice's profile (online now)


7380 posts in 3608 days

#14 posted 09-04-2012 06:48 PM

Wormil is correct! With a 7” wide board there is plenty of hand control space available; however if you don’t feel comfortable doing it the way wormil described then I would use the push piece of some kind. I use the ones with the non slip pads on one side and a handle on the top side typically used on Jointers.

If you don’t feel comfortable using those, use one of the ones described above AND a feather board to hold the material next to the fence.

Regardless of which way you end up using, SAFETY first;
  1. safety glasses
  2. make sure all guards are in place and functioning
  3. stay out of the path of any cutoff
  4. keep other out of the way

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3376 days

#15 posted 09-04-2012 07:24 PM

I prefer to use push blocks, one in each hand. I like the Bench Dog blocks for wide cuts, Grrippers for narrow cuts. I get a firm grip on the work and it would be pretty difficult for the blade to come far enough through the block to bite me. I also use push blocks almost always when feeding work through my router table. Using push blocks I almost never see a need for feather boards.

-- Greg D.

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