Safety tips for a first time table saw owner

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Forum topic by Purrmaster posted 12-27-2012 09:20 AM 2418 views 1 time favorited 71 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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915 posts in 2116 days

12-27-2012 09:20 AM


My parents very kindly got me the Ridgid R5412 table saw for Christmas. This is my first table saw. I’ve never even used a table saw before. Naturally I wish to keep all of my digits intact. And not destroy the saw.

So I’m soliciting for safety information from those more experienced. What sorts of things should I do (or perhaps more importantly NOT do)? What kind of safety equipment should I get? The saw came with a push stick and I have two push blocks I got for my jointer. But what else? I don’t know what a featherboard is, for example.


71 replies so far

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13606 posts in 3365 days

#1 posted 12-27-2012 09:33 AM

work your way thru this purr

like driving

don’t just gun it and go

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

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2656 days

#2 posted 12-27-2012 09:54 AM

Your public library likely has several books on tablesaws. Mine does- and I used them to learn how to safely handle a TS. Heck, I didn’t even know what “kickback” was until I read the books. Glad I didn’t skip that chapter. LOL.
Seriously though. A qualified shop teacher or cabinetmaker wouold be the best source to learn from. But since such people can be hard to find for such a remedial lesson, a well-written/illustrated book is a reasonable second-best. Buying a well-reviewed book from Amazon might be a good investment and could be had for $10 or less.
Do you have an owner’s manual? Some manuals do a reasonable job covering the VERY basic operations of a TS.

View americancanuck's profile


416 posts in 2633 days

#3 posted 12-27-2012 09:57 AM

You must have very nice parents. If it wasn’t for the fact that I got my Rigid4512 about 2 years ago I would ask them to adopt me. I found that the push stick that comes with the saw is awkward and hard to use. purchase or make more. The most important safety rule is to respect the tool.

-- Retired and lovin it

View toddbeaulieu's profile


814 posts in 3028 days

#4 posted 12-27-2012 12:30 PM

Watch a lot of videos. Read a lot of articles and books. And BE CAREFUL!

I’ve had a few close calls now and they were all from being STUPID.

I ran a small piece of plywood through and then decided it would be OK to bring it back towards me. The saw caught it and spit it up and then drew it back at me (walking across the surface). It nailed me 1” from my business and left me on the floor for a good 2-3 minutes before deciding to try to stand. I had nice coloration from that one.

I was ripping heavy, SPLIT oak boards that had a lot of tension. A large “spear sized” chunk fell off and onto the blade, making it “spear acting”, hitting me in the hip.

I had another kickback that I can’t remember the details about, but kickback is a monster that you need to do everything you can to prevent.

Enjoy your saw!

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1747 posts in 2499 days

#5 posted 12-27-2012 01:01 PM

Do not stand directly behind the blade. Stand off to one side. If you are ripping a board and if the board past the saw cut begins to pinch, stop and put a screwdriver in the kerf to open it back up. If the kerf pinches, the board can ride up on the blade, and the blade will throw the board straight back at hundreds of miles per hour. This can hurt you very bad. This situation can also jerk your hand into the blade where very, very bad things happen.

Some people like to have their blade height just above the top of the board. This makes it safer from the standpoint of getting your hand or fingers in the blade. However, that also makes it much easier for the board to ride up and the teeth get under the board whereby the board becomes a dangerous missile.

Kickback is a serious issue and occurs when the teeth of the blade get under the board and hurl it back. Most people do not just stick their hand in the blade. Kickback pulls or jerks it in. Preventing kickback is the safest thing that you can do. Understand how to prevent it. Make some extra push sticks. I generally use two when ripping. One to hold the end down and push, and another to keep the board tight to the fence.

A sharp blade is also safer than a dull one. If the blade is not cutting easy, change it out.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3486 days

#6 posted 12-27-2012 01:32 PM

LIke Norm says, ” Read, understand and follow all of the safety rules that come with your power tools.” There is no reason to be afraid of any power tool but they do garner some respect. The table saw can change your life in the blink of an eye, and even take one out. One of the biggest mistakes I see new woodworkers make is cutting at too slow or too fast of a pace. Jamming a piece of lumber into a blade that is spinning towards you is asking for disaster. Too slow and the blade will burn the wood and increase your chance of a kick back. Use push sticks that keep your hands away from the blade and use a guard, splitter or riving knife as much as possible. NO long sleeves, long hair or jewelry that could possibly get caught in the blade. Most of all use common sense, if it doesnt feel safe, it probably isnt.

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

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8056 posts in 3399 days

#7 posted 12-27-2012 01:46 PM

Using a sharp blade that’s the correct blade for the task makes the TS easier and safer to use.
Tips for picking a saw blade

Keeping the surface waxed allows the workpiece to slide more easily, and cutting flat straight wood is makes the cut more predictable.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2708 days

#8 posted 12-27-2012 02:08 PM

I’m betting that in this day and age, your owner’s manual is going to be 200 pages long, 180 of which are going to discuss safety (and may conclude that you never turn it on).

View allwood's profile


84 posts in 2187 days

#9 posted 12-27-2012 02:38 PM

When I went school yrs ago for cabinetmaking, we were shown some safety videos that made many a student cringe and to this day my power tools make me think twice about the operations I perform on them. Use common sense, if it doesn’t feel safe, don’t do it. Always pay attention to what your doing and always keep your body to the side of the blade, not in line with it. Reading books is always a great source of info, as is the LJ site, tons of help and info here. Safe and happy woodworking.

View Planeman40's profile


1179 posts in 2784 days

#10 posted 12-27-2012 02:50 PM

I’ll add to the above . . .

Make yourself some good push-sticks and jigs for various types of cutting. These hold the work and keep your hands and fingers away from the blade.

Another thing is to always know where your hands and fingers are in relation to the blade. Most accidents happen when a finger drags across a blade. Over time it will become a habit to move your hands, arms and fingers in a way to stay clear of the blade. Develop these “automatic” movements and subconscious awareness so you always keep clear of the blade.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

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4758 posts in 2375 days

#11 posted 12-27-2012 03:13 PM

Don not under any circumstances when making a through cut use the miter gauge and the rip fence at the same time. Learn about zero clearance inserts and make several for your saw. Get several feather boards and use them.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Bill White

4948 posts in 3984 days

#12 posted 12-27-2012 03:19 PM

and most of all:
DO NOT REMOVE BLADE GUARDS, ETC. unless making such cuts as prevent the use of said guard (dado, rabets, etc.).
Google can be your friend when it come to seeing proper saw use.
I know that there are those who don’t use all the safety stuff, but it is there for a reason.
I’m a woose, but I still have all ten (so far).
Good luck, and be safe.


View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2600 days

#13 posted 12-27-2012 03:23 PM

Grab this book, read it all the way through, especially the safety and tuning sections. And even though the video is older, it’s still an excellent resource.

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

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1162 posts in 2714 days

#14 posted 12-27-2012 07:06 PM

Maybe you can get your parents to buy Tage Frid’s Woodworking Trilogy for your birthday. Google it.

I’ll start you off with some basic rules -

#1 – stand centered on the board between the blade and the fence

#2 – never switch push sticks during a cut, never use two at the same time

#3 – anything left of the blade will fall away without your help or anyone else’s, don’t touch it until the blade stops

#4 – never let anyone else touch the saw or the board while the blade is moving

#5 – always look at the board touching the fence, make sure it stays against the fence, you don’t need to look at the blade

#6 – until you know the rules, don’t break any of them

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2267 days

#15 posted 12-27-2012 07:16 PM

I’d suggest taking a basic woodworking class, maybe at your local college? I’ve used table saws before, but didnt have experience with other tools like routers, jointers, planers, etc… I took a 10 week course (just 1 day a week) and while learning woodworking basics, dos and donts, the most valuable part of the class was having an experienced group of woodworkers to talk to and ask questions… Especially regarding the equipment and best practices. I also managed to score my own cabinet table saw from the school since they had upgraded to the Sawstops. Got a steal of a deal there. I highly recommend considering it…

Research, learn, and get to working.

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

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